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The three-barred cross of the Russian Orthodox Church The Kievan period[ edit ] The Christian community that developed into what is now known as the Russian Orthodox Church is traditionally said to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew , who is thought to have visited Scythia and Greek colonies along the northern coast of the Black Sea. According to one of the legends, Andrew reached the future location of Kiev and foretold the foundation of a great Christian city. By the end of the first millennium AD, eastern Slavic lands started to come under the cultural influence of the Eastern Roman Empire. There is evidence that the first Christian bishop was sent to Novgorod from Constantinople either by Patriarch Photius or Patriarch Ignatios , c. By the midth century, there was already a Christian community among Kievan nobility, under the leadership of Byzantine Greek priests, although paganism remained the dominant religion. Her grandson, Vladimir of Kiev, made Rus' officially a Christian state. The official Christianization of Kievan Rus' is widely believed to have occurred in AD, when Prince Vladimir was baptised himself and ordered his people to be baptised by the priests from the Eastern Roman Empire. The Kievan church was a junior metropolitanate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Ecumenical patriarch appointed the metropolitan, who usually was a Greek , who governed the Church of Rus'. The Metropolitan's residence was originally located in Kiev itself, the capital of the medieval Rus' state. Transfer of the see to Moscow; de facto independence of the Moscow Church[ edit ] As Kiev was losing its political, cultural, and economical significance due to the Mongol invasion , Metropolitan Maximus moved to Vladimir in ; his successor, Metropolitan Peter moved the residence to Moscow in Following the tribulations of the Mongol invasion, the Russian Church was pivotal in the survival and life of the Russian state. Despite the politically motivated murders of Mikhail of Chernigov and Mikhail of Tver , the Mongols were generally tolerant and even granted tax exemption to the Church. Such holy figures as Sergius of Radonezh and Metropolitan Alexis helped the country to withstand years of Tatar oppression, and to expand both economically and spiritually. The Trinity monastery founded by Sergius of Radonezh became the setting for the flourishing of spiritual art, exemplified by the work of Andrey Rublev , among others. The followers of Sergius founded four hundred monasteries, thus greatly extending the geographical extent of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Russian Orthodox monks defended the Trinity monastery against Polish troops during the Time of Troubles. In , at the Council of Florence , some Orthodox hierarchs from Byzantium as well as Metropolitan Isidore , who represented the Russian Church, signed a union with the Roman Church , whereby the Eastern Church would recognise the primacy of the Pope. Isidore was in the same year removed from his position as an apostate and expelled from Moscow. The Russian metropolitanate remained effectively vacant for the next few years due largely to the dominance of Uniates in Constantinople then. In December , Jonas , a Russian bishop, was installed by the Council of Russian bishops in Moscow as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia  with permanent residence in Moscow without the consent from Constantinople. This occurred five years prior to the fall of Constantinople in and, unintentionally, signified the beginning of an effectively independent church structure in the Moscow North-Eastern Russian part of the Russian Church. Subsequently, there developed a theory in Moscow that saw Moscow as the Third Rome , the legitimate successor to Constantinople, and the Primate of the Moscow Church as head of all the Russian Church. Meanwhile, the newly established in Russian Orthodox initially Uniate metropolitanate in Kiev then in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and subsequently in the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth continued under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical See until , when it was transferred to the jurisdiction of Moscow. The reign of Ivan III and his successor was plagued by a number of heresies and controversies. One party , led by Nil Sorsky and Vassian Kosoy , called for the secularisation of monastic properties. They were opposed by the influential Joseph of Volotsk , who defended ecclesiastical ownership of land and property. The sovereign's position fluctuated, but eventually he threw his support to Joseph. New sects sprang up, some of which showed a tendency to revert to Mosaic law: In the s, Metropolitan Macarius codified Russian hagiography and convened a number of church synods, which culminated in the Hundred Chapter Council of This Council unified church ceremonies and duties throughout the Moscow Church. At the demand of the church hierarchy, the government lost its jurisdiction over ecclesiastics. Reinforced by these reforms, the Moscow Church felt powerful enough to occasionally challenge the policies of the tsar. Metropolitan Philip , in particular, decried the abuses of Ivan the Terrible , who eventually engineered his deposition and murder. Painting by Vasily Perov During the reign of Tsar Fyodor I his brother-in-law Boris Godunov contacted the Ecumenical Patriarch, who "was much embarrassed for want of funds,"  with a view to establishing a patriarchal see in Moscow. The four other patriarchs have recognized the Moscow Patriarchate as one of the five honourable Patriarchates. During the next half a century, when the tsardom was weak, the patriarchs notably Hermogenes and Philaret would help run the state along with and sometimes instead of the tsars. At the urging of the Zealots of Piety , in Patriarch Nikon of Moscow resolved to centralize power that had been distributed locally, while conforming Russian Orthodox rites and rituals to those of the Greek Orthodox Church , as interpreted by pundits from the Kiev Ecclesiastical Academy. For instance, he insisted that Russian Christians cross themselves with three fingers, rather than the then-traditional two. This aroused antipathy among a substantial section of believers, who saw the changed rites as heresy, although the extent to which these changes can be regarded as minor or major ritual significance remains open to debate. After the implementation of these innovations at the church council of —, the Church anathematized and suppressed those who acted contrary to them with the support of Muscovite state power. These traditionalists became known as " Old Believers " or " Old Ritualists ". Although Nikon's far-flung ambitions of steering the country to a theocratic form of government precipitated his defrocking and exile, Tsar Aleksey deemed it reasonable to uphold many of his innovations. Archpriest Avvakum Petrov and many other opponents of the church reforms were burned at the stake, either forcibly or voluntarily. Another prominent figure within the Old Ritualists' movement, Boyarynya Morozova , was starved to death in Others escaped from the government persecutions to Siberia. Several years after the Council of Pereyaslav that heralded the subsequent incorporation of eastern regions of the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth into the Tsardom of Russia , the see of the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Rus' was transferred to the Moscow patriarchate Peter the Great[ edit ] Main article: Church reform of Peter I Peter the Great — had an agenda of radical modernization of Russian government, army, dress and manners. He made Russia a formidable political power. Peter was not religious and had a low regard for the Church, so he put it under tight governmental control. He replaced the Patriarch with a Holy Synod, which he controlled. The Tsar appointed all bishops. A clerical career was not a route chosen by upper-class society. Most parish priests were sons of priests, were very poorly educated, and very poorly paid. The monks in the monasteries had a slightly higher status; they were not allowed to marry. Politically, the church was impotent. Catherine the Great later in the 18th century seized most of the church lands, and put the priests on a small salary supplemented by fees for services such as baptism and marriage. Numerous financial and political incentives as well as immunity from military service were offered local political leaders who would convert to Orthodoxy, and bring their people with them. In the following two centuries, missionary efforts stretched out across Siberia into Alaska. Eminent people on that missionary effort included St. Innocent of Irkutsk and St. In emulation of Stephen of Perm , they learned local languages and translated gospels and hymns. Sometimes those translations required the invention of new systems of transcription. Sophia-Assumption Cathedral in Tobolsk In the aftermath of the Treaty of Pereyaslav , the Ottomans supposedly acting on behalf of the Russian regent Sophia Alekseyevna pressured the Patriarch of Constantinople into transferring the Metropoly of Kiev from the jurisdiction of Constantinople to that of Moscow. The controversial transfer brought millions of faithful and half a dozen dioceses under the pastoral and administrative care of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', leading to the significant Ukrainian domination of the Russian Orthodox Church, which continued well into the 18th century, with Theophanes Prokopovich , Epiphanius Slavinetsky , Stephen Yavorsky and Demetrius of Rostov being among the most notable representatives of this trend. This was the situation until shortly after the Russian Revolution of , at which time the Local Council more than half of its members being lay persons adopted the decision to restore the Patriarchy. On November 5 according to the Julian calendar a new patriarch, Tikhon , was named through casting lots. The late 18th century saw the rise of starchestvo under Paisiy Velichkovsky and his disciples at the Optina Monastery. This marked a beginning of a significant spiritual revival in the Russian Church after a lengthy period of modernization, personified by such figures as Demetrius of Rostov and Platon of Moscow. Aleksey Khomyakov , Ivan Kireevsky and other lay theologians with Slavophile leanings elaborated some key concepts of the renovated Orthodox doctrine, including that of sobornost. No less evident were non-conformist paths of spiritual searching known as "God-Seeking". Writers, artists and intellectuals in large numbers were drawn to private prayer, mysticism, spiritualism , theosophy and Eastern religions. A fascination with primitive feeling, with the unconscious and the mythic was apparent, along with visions of coming catastrophes and redemption. In , a volume of essays appeared under the title Vekhi "Milestones" or "Landmarks" , authored by a group of leading left-wing intellectuals, including Sergei Bulgakov , Peter Struve and former Marxists. They bluntly repudiated the materialism and atheism that had dominated the thought of the intelligentsia for generations as leading inevitably to failure and moral disaster. The essays created a sensation. It is possible to see a similarly renewed vigor and variety in religious life and spirituality among the lower classes, especially after the upheavals of Among the peasantry there was widespread interest in spiritual-ethical literature and non-conformist moral-spiritual movements, an upsurge in pilgrimage and other devotions to sacred spaces and objects especially icons , persistent beliefs in the presence and power of the supernatural apparitions, possession, walking-dead, demons, spirits, miracles and magic , the renewed vitality of local "ecclesial communities" actively shaping their own ritual and spiritual lives, sometimes in the absence of clergy, and defining their own sacred places and forms of piety. Also apparent was the proliferation of what the Orthodox establishment branded as "sectarianism", including both non-Orthodox Christian denominations, notably Baptists , and various forms of popular Orthodoxy and mysticism. Russian Revolution In , there were 55, Russian Orthodox churches and 29, chapels , , priests and deacons , monasteries and convents with a total of 95, monks and nuns in Russia. On 15 August O. The Council continued its sessions until September and adopted a number of important reforms, including the restoration of Patriarchy , a decision taken 3 days after the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government in Petrograd on 25 October O. Legal religious activity in the territories controlled by Bolsheviks was effectively reduced to services and sermons inside church buildings. The Decree and attempts by Bolshevik officials to requisition church property caused sharp resentment on the part of the ROC clergy and provoked violent clashes on some occasions: In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1, priests were executed. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated materialism and atheism in schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed. Orthodox clergy and active believers were treated by the Soviet law-enforcement apparatus as anti-revolutionary elements and were habitually subjected to formal prosecutions on political charges, arrests, exiles, imprisonment in camps , and later could also be incarcerated in mental hospitals. It was impossible to build new churches. Practising Orthodox Christians were restricted from prominent careers and membership in communist organizations the party, the Komsomol. Anti-religious propaganda was openly sponsored and encouraged by the government, which the Church was not given an opportunity to publicly respond to. The government youth organization, the Komsomol , encouraged its members to vandalize Orthodox churches and harass worshippers. Seminaries were closed down, and the church was restricted from using the press. Theological schools were closed until some were re-opened in the latter s , and church publications were suppressed. However, the Soviet policy vis-a-vis organised religion vacillated over time between, on the one hand, a utopian determination to substitute secular rationalism for what they considered to be an outmoded "superstitious" worldview and, on the other, pragmatic acceptance of the tenaciousness of religious faith and institutions. In any case, religious beliefs and practices did persist, not only in the domestic and private spheres but also in the scattered public spaces allowed by a state that recognized its failure to eradicate religion and the political dangers of an unrelenting culture war. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin , northeast China. The Russian Orthodox church was drastically weakened in May , when the Renovated Living Church , a reformist movement backed by the Soviet secret police, broke away from Patriarch Tikhon also see the Josephites and the Russian True Orthodox Church , a move that caused division among clergy and faithful that persisted until The sixth sector of the OGPU , led by Yevgeny Tuchkov , began aggressively arresting and executing bishops, priests, and devout worshippers, such as Metropolitan Veniamin in Petrograd in for refusing to accede to the demand to hand in church valuables including sacred relics.
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