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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.
Antimension of Varlaam (Iasyns'kyi), 1692
Woodblock print on linen (17 in × 20 in)
UHEC Patriarch Mstyslav Museum Permanent Collection
This antimension demonstrates in no uncertain terms the change in the status of the Kyiv Metropolia that occurred in 1686. Unlike Sylvester Kosov and Dionisii Balaban just a few decades earlier, Varlaam is no longer "exarch of the Most Holy Apostolic Throne of Constantinople" and he is acknowledging the political rule of Moscow.
Iasyns'kyi studied at the Kyiv Collegium, then continued with further studies in Poland and Bohemia. He went on to become the rector of the Collegium, a monk at the Monastery of the Caves, where he managed the monastery's printing shop. Although Varlaam was elected locally and attempted to shield the Kyiv Metropolia from Moscow's interference, he was ultimately powerless in the face of the forces against him.
Text transcriptionБ[о]ж[ес]твенный и С[вя]щенный Олтарь Г[оспо]да Б[о]га и Сп[а]са н[а]шего І[су]са Хр[ис]та, Ѡс[вя]щен Бл[а]г[ода]тію Всес[вя]т[о]го и Животворящаго Д[у]ха. Рукодѣйстве[нъ] же и Бл[а]г[осло]вен Правосла[в]ным М[и]л[ос]тію Б[о]жіею Митрополитом Кіевски[м] Галіцки[м] и Все[я] Малы[я] Росіи, ВАРЛААМОМЪ. При Державѣ Пресвѣтлѣйшихъ державнѣйшихъ и Бл[а]гоч[eс]тивѣйшихъ Великихъ Г[осу]д[а]рей н[а]шихъ Ц[а]рeй и Великихъ Кн[я]зей ІѠАННА АЛЕѮѢЕВИЧА ПЕТРА АЛЕѮѢЕВИЧА, Всея Великія и Малыя и Бѣлыя Рѡссіи Самодержцeвъ.
В лѣто ѿ Соꙁданія Міра 7200 от Воплощенія же Б[о]га Слова 1692 М[ѣся]ца Марта, дня 24, Воіже С[вя]щеннодѣйствовати на немъ Б[o]ж[ес]твенную Лѵ[ту]ргію В храмѣ [...]
[signature of Metropolitan Varlaam]
Text translationThe Holy and Sanctified Altar of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, sanctified by the grace of the All-holy and Life-creating Spirit. By the hand and blessing of the Orthodox (by the grace of God) Metropolitan of Kyiv, Halych, and all Little Russia VARLAAM. Under the rule of our most glorious, powerful, most benevolent and great rulers Tsars and Great Princes IVAN ALEKSEEVICH [and] PETER ALEXEEVICH, Monarchs of All Great, Little, and White Russia.
In the year 7200 from the creation of the world and the year 1692 from the Incarnation of God the Word, on the 24th day of the month of March, for the celebration on it of the Divine Liturgy in the church [...]
[signature of Metropolitan Varlaam]
View this antimension in its historical context