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(1685 to 1905)
With the tsar's accession of much of Ukraine came increasing control of its ecclesiastical hierarchy. As Moscow's political influence grew stronger through conquest and expansion while Constantinople's continued to wane under the Ottomans, Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius, via a Synodal Letter, and in exchange for compensation from Moscow, accorded to the Patriarchate of Moscow the responsibility of electing and consecrating the Metropolitan of Kyiv, provided, however, that the Metropolitan of Kyiv would continue to first mention the Ecumenical Patriarch during the commemorations at the Divine Liturgy, before commemorating the Patriarch of Moscow.
It was not long, however, before this arrangement was abandoned by Moscow, and it solidified its control over the Metropolia of Kyiv. After the death of his co-tsar Ivan in 1696, Peter I commenced an ambitious program of expansion and development, including a reworking of the Orthodox Church's administration. He effectively eliminated the position of Patriarch, replacing it with a body known as the Most Holy Synod. Over the next few decades, he succeeded in subordinating the Orthodox Church — including the Metropolia of Kyiv — into a bureaucratic department of the Russian Empire.
The Metropolitan of Kyiv would go from leading a full Metropolia containing multiple eparchies, to being simply the bishop of the Kyiv eparchy (while still keeping the honorary title of "Metropolitan"). Over the coming years, his title would even be occasionally demoted to "Archbishop".
Ukrainians were not passive in the face of these encroachments on their ecclesiastical and political life. During the Great Northern War (1700-1721), many Ukrainians, including Het'man Ivan Mazepa, sided with the forces of King Charles XII of Sweden, hoping for renewed autonomy in a strengthened Hetmanate allied with the Swedish Empire. These hopes were dashed when the Swedes and their Ukrainian allies suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. In a further example of the intersection of politics and religion in this era, Mazepa, who had been renowned as a builder and restorer of Orthodox churches and was major patron of iconography, was placed under an anathema by the Russian Church after 1709, one which remains in place to this day.
By the end of the 18th century, the position of Het'man had been abolished. In the 1800s, Ukraine became a de facto colony of Moscow, and even the publication of Ukrainian language books was forbidden. Efforts to make Kyivan Orthodox practice conform to the customs of the Church of Moscow were only partially successful, since leaders of the Russian Church were commenting on what they considered to be the peculiarities of religious customs in Ukraine even as late as the 1870s.
Perhaps paradoxically, Ukrainian church leaders had an outsized influence on the Russian Church, both before and after the loss of Kyiv's autonomy. The liturgical reforms carried out under Patriarch Nikon in the 1650s and '60s were largely the work of Ukrainian monk-scholars trained at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The implementation of these reforms led to a schism with the "Old Believers", and it fell to Ukrainian-born bishops, such as the Archbishop of Rostov, Dymytrii Tuptalo (1651-1709), to defend those reforms. Tuptalo, who was also a poet and composer of non-liturgical devotional songs in the Baroque style, is now venerated as St. Dymytrii of Rostov in both the Ukrainian and Russian Churches, along with St. Ioasaph of Belgorod (1705-1754) and St. John of Tobolsk (1651-1715). Leading composers of sacred music in the Empire during this era, such as Dmytro Bortniansky (1751-1825), were also of Ukrainian origin.
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Revolution and Ukrainianization
At the dawn of the 20th century, the Russian Empire was in a state of decay. The Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War was the trigger that caused the growing political discontent in the Russian Empire to boil over into the Revolution of 1905. While the tsar remained as monarch, an elected body known as the Duma was formed, which included a sizable and vocal Ukrainian faction. The restrictions on publication of books in the Ukrainian language were also lifted, allowing the publication of this translation of the Gospels with the approval of the Most Holy Synod:
The start of World War I in 1914 saw a bold attempt by the Russian Empire to add Greek Catholic Austrian Galicia to its political and religious sphere. This did not come to pass. In 1917, revolution rocked the Empire, resulting in the downfall of the Tsar and the dismantling of the state apparatus, plunging the region into civil war and political turmoil. This included a short-lived period of Ukrainian independence.
Three Ukrainian governments rose and fell over the course of a little over two tumultuous years. The first was socialist in orientation and did not want to get involved in matters of organized religion while it was battling for its own survival. The conservative government that replaced it, by contrast, had alliances with Russian monarchists who would have been antagonized by any attempt to break away from the Moscow Patriarchate. Only after the Directorate came to power in December 1918 was any serious effort made to wrest ecclesiastical jurisdiction away from Moscow.
On January 1, 1919, the Directorate passed the "Law Concerning the Supreme Administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Synodal Church", which mandated the creation of a Holy Synod independent of the Patriarch of Moscow, but which did not have a significant immediate impact. It also delegated Oleksandr Lotots'kyi, the former Minister of Religions and now the Directorate's top diplomat in Constantinople, to lobby the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Ukrainian autocephaly. This also did not achieve concrete results — in part because the Patriarchal Throne happened to be vacant and the locum tenens did not want to take responsibility for such a major decision.
On a more practical level, on May 5, 1919, Fr. Vasyl' Lypkivs'kyi celebrated the Divine Liturgy in vernacular Ukrainian for the first time in any Orthodox or Greek Catholic church. This took place at the St. Nicholas Military Cathedral in Kyiv, and included music created specifically for the occasion by Mykola Leontovych (the composer whose arrangement of the Ukrainian New Year's carol "Shchedryk" is now known around the world as "The Carol of the Bells"). The church leadership still loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate had a very negative reaction, and Lypkivs'kyi was censured and prohibited from serving as a priest.
Antimension of Filaret (Amfiteatrov) and Paladii (Vidybida-Rudenko), 1849/1944
Engraving on silk (19 in × 23 in)
UHEC Patriarch Mstyslav Museum permanent collection
This antimension was issued by Metropolitan of Kyiv Filaret to the parish of the Holy Transfiguration in the town of Polychyntsi in 1849. However, this object is perhaps even more significant for what is written on the reverse:
The text is in Ukrainian (with some Church Slavonicisms) and reads: "This antimension, sanctified by the insertion of relics of Holy Great Martyr Barbara at the Metropolitan [Cathederal] of the Holy Myrrh-bearer Maria Magdalena in Warsaw, 25/12 June, 1944 by the member of the Holy Council of Bishops Archbishop Palladii. This antimension is the Holy Table for the church of the Holy Protection in the city of Utica, New York. [signed] The humble Palladii, Archbishop"
Palladii Vidybida was ordained within the Orthodox Church of Poland in 1941, and he played a key role in the 1942 Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church by supporting the renewal of the All-Ukrainian Orthodox Church Council. Obviously, this inscription was written by Palladii when he was already in the United States and the parish in Utica was presumably in his eparchy.
The two inscriptions written more than an century apart attest to this object's remarkable journey from Ukraine, via Poland and Germany, to the United States.
Text transcription (front)Сей Антімінсъ, сіесть Трапеꙁа с[вя]щенная, на приношеніе беꙁкровныя ж[е]ртвы въ Б[о]жественнѣй Літургіи, ѡс[вя]тися бл[а]годатію прес[вя]тагѡ и животворящагѡ Д[у]ха: сегѡ ради имѣетъ власть с[вя]щеннодѣствовати во храмѣ Преображенія Господня въ селѣ Поличинцахъ — неподвижно.
При Державѣ Бл[а]гочестивѣйшагѡ Самодержавиѣйшагѡ Великагѡ Г[осу]д[а]ря Нашегѡ ІМПЕРАТОРА НІКОЛАЯ ПАѴЛОВИЧА всея Рѡссіи: Бл[а]гословеніемъ С[вя]тѣйшагѡ Правительствующагѡ Сѵнода, с[вя]щеннодѣйствованъ Тогѡже С[вя]тѣйшагѡ Сѵнода Членом, Преѡс[вя]щеннымъ ФІЛАРЕТОМЪ, Митрополітомъ Кіевскимъ и Галицкимъ, и С[вя]щенно-Архімантритомъ Кіево-Печерскія Лаѵры, и Кавалеромъ. Лѣта міроꙁданія 7357, ѿ Р[о]ж[дес]тва же Хр[ис]това 1849 года, Індікта 8, Мѣсяца Ноемвріа въ [...] день.
Text translation (front)This antimension is a holy Table for the bringing of the bloodless sacrifice in the Divine Liturgy, sanctified by the grace of the Most Holy and Life-creating Spirit for the sake of having power to celebrate in the temple of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the village of Polychyntsi — permanent[?].
During the reign of our Most Pious, Most Sovereign and Great Ruler EMPEROR NIKOLAI PAVLOVICH of all Russia, with the blessing of the Most Holy Governing Synod, celebrated by the member of the selfsame Most Holy Synod, the most reverend FILARET, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich, and Hiero-Archimandrite of the Kiev-Pechers'k Lavra, and Knight. In the year 7357 from the creation of the world and the year 1849 from the Nativity of Christ, the 8th indiction, in the month of November on the day [...].
View this antimension in its historical context
Ukrainian translation of the Gospels (Moscow, 1913)
At first glance, the very existence of this book seems implausible, given that essentially all Ukrainian-language publications had been banned in the Russian Empire since 1876. But yet, it does exist, and represents one of the first glimmers of Ukrainianization in the Russian Empire.
The title page reads (in Ukrainian): "The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, in the Ukrainian language. Moscow. Synodal Printing House. 1913"
The colophon (left-hand page) reads (in Russian): "With the blessing of the Most Holy Governing Synod."
Although the book does not identify the translator, the text follows the 1861 translation by Pylyp Morachevs'kyi (1806-1879), at the time a virtually unknown retired secondary school inspector.
Interestingly, it was this very translation that in all likelihood led to the issuance of the 1863 Valuev Circular, which ordered Russian Imperial censors to disallow the printing of any religious or educational material in Ukrainian, and went as far as to insist that the Ukrainian language "never existed, does not exist, and cannot ever exist". The fear was that such publications, like this translation of the Gospels, would stoke "separatist" or anti-tsarist sentiment among Ukrainians.
The publication of literary fiction in Ukrainian was still allowed, but this loophole was closed by the Ems Ukaz issued by Tsar Alexander II thirteen years later. With these two edicts, the colonial status of Ukraine within the Russian Empire was fully solidified.
Only after the Revolution of 1905 were these bans lifted, and Morachevs'kyi's translation was first published with the approval of the Most Holy Synod in 1906 in an edition of 5,000, which sold out almost instantly. This copy is an example of the second 1913 printing.