Archbishop of Novgorod
The Archbishop of Novgorod is the head of the eparchy of Novgorod the Great and is one of the oldest offices in the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

. The archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

s have, in fact, been among the most important figures in medieval Russian history and culture and their successors (as bishops, archbishops, or metropolitans) continued to play significant roles in Russian history up to the present day. The medieval archbishops patronized a significant number of churches in and around the city (several of which can still be seen today) and their artistic and architectural embellishments influenced later Russian art and architecture; they also patronized chronicle-writing, a crucial source on medieval Russian history.

The Republican period

The office of bishop of Novgorod was created around the time of the Christianization of Rus' (988), although the chronicles give conflicting dates for its establishment ranging anywhere from 989 to 992. The first bishop, Ioakim Korsunianin
Ioakim Korsunianin
Ioakim Korsunianin was the first bishop of Novgorod the Great . As his surname suggests, he probably came from the Byzantine town of Cherson on the Crimean Peninsula and was sent to Kievan Rus' about 989...

 (ca. 989-1030), built the first (wooden) Cathedral of Holy Wisdom
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Novgorod and the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy.-History:...

 (also called St. Sofia's) "with thirteen tops" around the time of his arrival in Novgorod. That cathedral burned in 1045, and the current, stone, cathedral, the oldest building still in use in Russia today, was built between 1045 and 1050 by Prince Vladimir Iaroslavich
Vladimir of Novgorod
Vladimir Yaroslavich reigned as prince of Novgorod from 1036 until his death. He was the eldest son of Yaroslav I the Wise of Kiev by Ingigerd, daughter of king Olof Skötkonung of Sweden....

. It was consecrated by Bishop Luka Zhidiata
Luka Zhidiata
Luka Zhidiata was the second bishop of Novgorod the Great . He replaced Efrem, who was not consecrated bishop, but who administered the eparchy from the death of Ioakim Korsunianin until Luka's appointment....

 (1035–1060) on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, September 14, 1052 (an eleventh century fresco just inside the south door depicts Sts. Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 and his mother Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

 who found the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 in the fourth century).

The office remained a bishopric until it 1165 when Metropolitan Kirill raised Ilya
Ilya (Archbishop of Novgorod)
Ilya , also known as Ioann , was Archbishop of Novgorod from 1165 to his death in 1186.-Life:The son of a priest, Ilya was himself priest of the Church of St. Blaise south of the Novgorod Kremlin. The church was rebuilt in 1407, destroyed during the Second World War, and has been rebuilt again; it...

 to the archiepiscopal dignity. Formally, though the status Novgorodian church remained unchanged and was still part of the Province of Kiev. While a number of archbishoprics in the Orthodox Church were autocephalous, answerable to the regional patriarch rather than the local metropolitan, Novgorod's was merely a titular archbishopric and always remained subordiate to the Province of Kiev and later Moscow. Indeed, in letters from the Patriarch of Constantinople, it was always referred to as a bishopric, and there are a number of lettes reminding sometimes recalcitrant archbishops of their subservience to the Russian metropolitan. Around 1400, the archbishops began referring to themselves as "Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov." In 1156, Bishop Arkadii (1156–1165) was elected by the veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

 (public assembly) because the metropolitan throne in Kiev was at that time vacant. Over the next several centuries, a process of local election either by the veche, by the local clergy, or by the drawing of lots developed. It was last used in the election of Archbishop Sergei in 1483, the first Muscovite archbishop of Novgorod. This local election gave the archbishops considerable autonomy in church matters, although they were consecrated by the local metropolitan and maintained ties to the Russian church throughout this period.

While some Russian chronicles refer to all Novgorodian prelates as archbishops, the office was not formally raised to the archiepiscopal status until 1165. There is evidence, however, that suggests that Nifont (r. 1130-1156) held the archiepiscopal title personally even before that. An antimins (embroidered communion cloth) from the St. Nicholas Cathedral on the Market bears an inscription referring to Nifont as archbishop. After the creation of the archiepiscopate, Martirii appears to have been the only one (before the creation of the metropolitanate in 1589) to have not been an archbishop, as none of his seals found in archaeological excavations speak of him as anything other than "bishop."

Politically the archbishop of Novgorod grew in power during Novgorod's period of independence, traditionally 1136 to 1478, until just before the Mongol Invasion (1237–1240) and then fell into decline until about the archiepiscopate of Vasilii Kalika (1330–1352). It then continued to grow in power into the early fifteenth century. During this time, the archbishops carried out a number of important political functions: they headed embassies to bring peace and ransom captives, they patronized civil (as opposed to ecclesiastical) construction projects such as the Detinets (Kremlin) in Novgorod, the fortress at Orekhov (also known as Oreshek) that was rebuilt in stone by Vasilii Kalika in 1352, the city walls built around Novgorod in the 1330s, and so forth; they administered the ecclesiastical courts, which in Novgorod adjudicated cases that elsewhere in the Orthodox world were left to secular courts; they signed treaties on behalf of the city; they oversaw standards of weights and measures in the city marketplace; their vicars may have administered outlying districts, such as Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

; and they generally shared decision-making with the boyars who ran the city.

The Muscovite period

After the Muscovite conquest in 1478, the office fell somewhat into decline. The first three Muscovite archbishops were removed in disgrace, although the second one, Gennady
Gennady (Archbishop of Novgorod)
Gennady was Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov from 1484 to 1504. He was most instrumental in fighting the Heresy of the Judaizers and is famous for compiling the first complete codex of the Bible in Slavic in 1499, known as the Gennady Bible. Gennady is a saint of the Russian Orthodox...

 (1484–1504), successfully suppressed the Judaizer Heresy
Sect of Skhariya the Jew
The Sect of Skhariya the Jew, much more commonly known as the Heresy of the Judaizers or Zhidovstvuyushchiye, was a sect that appeared in Novgorod the Great and Grand Duchy of Moscow in the second half of the 15th century and marked the beginning of a new era of heresy in Russia...

 (called the Zhidovstvuyuschiye in Russian) and compiled the first complete corpus of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in Slavonic (the Gennady Bible, now housed in the State Historical Museum
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of the prehistoric tribes inhabiting present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty...

). His successor, Serapion
Serapion (Archbishop of Novgorod)
Serapion was Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov from 1506 to 1509. He is a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church; his feast day is March 16 by the Julian calendar....

 was removed from office after only three years and the see sat vacant for seventeen years (1509–1526).

The office revived somewhat under Makarii
Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow
Macarius was a notable Russian cleric, writer, and iconographer who served as the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia from 1542 until 1563.-Early life and work on the Menaion:...

 (archbishop 1526-1542; Metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus' 1542-1563), who built a number of churches in the city, patronized the writing of saints lives, and began a number of important literary works in Novgorod, which he completed in Moscow. Most notably among these are the Velikie Mineia Chet'ii (The Great Menion Reader), a twelve volume series of saint's lives and prayers divide up by months; and the Stepennaia Kniga (The Book of Degrees of Royal Genealogy), a genealogy of the tsar and his ancestors linking them to the Romans.

Like the rest of Russia, the archiepiscopal office suffered hardship during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and the subsequent Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

. Novgorod seems to have suffered more than most, as the Oprichnina
The oprichnina is the period of Russian history between Tsar Ivan the Terrible's 1565 initiation and his 1572 disbanding of a domestic policy of secret police, mass repressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats...

 massacred a number of the citizenry in the city in 1570 and looted the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom and other places in the city. At around the time of the massacre, Tsar Ivan the Terrible removed Archbishop Pimen from office and sent him to Aleksandrov where he was apparently tortured. Pimen died in 1572 under uncertain circumstances in the Monastery of St. Nicholas in Tula. His successor, Archbishop Leonid, was beheaded in Moscow on Cathedral Square in the Kremlin on the orders of the Tsar in October 1575. Leonid's successor, Aleksandr, was elevated to the metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 rank in 1589, becoming the "Metropolitan of Novgorod the Great and Velikie Luki". (Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

 became its own eparchy in 1589, hence Pskov could no longer be part of the Novgorodian archbishop's title.)

During the Time of Troubles, Novgorod was occupied by the Swedes, and Novgorodian Metropolitan Isidor played a key role in negotiating the city's hand over to the Swedesin 1611 and in administering the city under Swedish occupation. The city was not returned to Russia until several years after the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty, and Tsar Mikhail is said to have distrusted Isidor for his role in the city under Swedish control.

The Imperial Period

The office remained a metropolitanate until 1720 when it was again reduced to an archiepiscopate. It was elevated to the metropolitan level again in 1762, and the title changed as the eparchy was included with St. Petersburg and later Finland and Estonia. It was separated from St. Petersburg in 1892.

The new city of St. Petersburg, when it was founded in late spring 1703, was initially in the Novgorodian Eparchy, and Metropolitan Iov consecrated the first wooden Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were...

 in the Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

 (the current cathedral is, of course, a later construction) in April 1704. Iov's vicar, Feofan Prokopovich
Feofan Prokopovich
thumb|Theophan ProkopovichFeofan/Theophan Prokopovich was an archbishop and statesman in the Russian Empire, of Ukrainian descent. He elaborated and implemented Peter the Great's reform of the Russian Orthodox Church...

became one of Peter the Great's key advisors on religion and helped establish the Spiritual Regulations and the Holy Governing Synod (which governed the church from 1721 to 1917.) Prokopovich was named Archbishop of Novgorod in 1725, after Peter's death.

Archbishop Dmitry (r. 1757-1767), served as Catherine the Great's spiritual advisor for the first few years of her reign and crowned her Empress in 1762.

Soviet and Post-Soviet Period

The Novgorodian Eparchy was combined again with Leningrad after the relegalization of the church in 1943. It was briefly separated in the 1950s and combined with Leningrad, again, in the 1960s. It was last separated in 1990, when it was recreated as a bishopric. It was raised to archiepiscopal level again in 1995. The current title is "Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Staraya Russa."

From 1922-1936, thirteen bishops of Novgorod were named by the Living Church
Living Church
The Living Church , also called Renovationist Church or Renovationism was a schism in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1922–1946...

, or Renovationist Church, a movement (now deemed schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

atic) that was sponsored by the Soviet authorities to split and thus weaken the Russian Church. The last of these, Veniamin Molchanov, was later Archbishop of Alma Ata, but nothing further is known of him after October 1936. He is thought to have been shot. The Renovationists fought with the patriarchal or main Orthodox Church before they were suppressed when the patriarchal church was legalized in 1943.

In the patriarchal church, Archbishop Arsenny II (Stadnitsky) was one of the candidates for Patriarch in the 1917 Moscow Council, when Tikhon was elected. He, like many of the hierarchs of the church, suffered repeated arrest in the 1920s. He was exiled to Central Asia in 1926 and made Bishop of Tashkent in 1933, where he died in 1936. A plaque on the old bishop's palace in Novgorod commemorates him and there is a festival in his honor in Novgorod today. During his long, absenteee tenure as Archbishop and Metropolitan of Novgorod, the eparchy was administered by a number of vicars, including Alexius Simansky, who held the title of Arcbishop of Khutyn. Alexius was briefly Metropolitan of Novogord in 1933, and was succeeded by Venedikt, who was shot in 1937 either in Kazan or in Leningrad, although the sources conflict. After Venedict, Alexius was made Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod in 1943. He was one of the three bishops (of four still alive) who met with Stalin on September 4, 1943, a meeting which led to the relegaliziation of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1945, Alexius was elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus and served in that post (the longest-serving Moscow patriarch) until his deathin 1970.
Patriarch Alexius II
Patriarch Alexius II
Patriarch Alexy II was the 15th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church....

, the most recent Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus was Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod immediately before his election as Patriarch in 1990. As patriarch, Alexius II presided over the reestablishment of Novgorod as an eparchy independent of Leningrad/St. Petersburg and of the reconsecration of the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom.

The current archbishop is Lev
Lev (Archbishop of Novgorod)
Lev is the current Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Staraya Russa. He was named Bishop of Novgorod the Great and Staraya Russa on July 20, 1990 and elevated to the archiepiscopal dignity on February 25, 1995....

. He was transferred from Tashkent in 1990 to be bishop of Novgorod and raised to archiepiscopal dignity in 1995. He has overseen the reopening of a number of churches in Novgorod and the eparchy, the return of the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom to the Russian Orthodox Church, the opening of a seminary at the Zverin Monastery
Zverin Monastery
The Zverin Monastery is a monastery in Veliky Novgorod. It was first mentioned in the chronicles under the year 1069. A wooden Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God was built in the monastery in 1148, but was struck by lightning and burned that same year. Archbishop Vasilii Kalika...

just north of the old city walls on the left bank of the Volkhov River, the reestablishment of a library in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, and other activities in the aftermath of the Soviet persecution of the church. He has received several awards from the church and the Russian government for his activities.

External links

Partial list of Archbishops of Novgorod the Great
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