Zealots of Piety
The Zealots of Piety was a circle of ecclesiastical and secular individuals beginning in the late 1630s in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, which gathered around Stefan Vonifatiyev, the confessor of tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Alexei Mikhailovich. The impetus to the group's formation was the Times of Trouble. The members believed the massacres and conflagrations of the time to be the manifestation of a wrathful God, angry with the Russian people's lack of religiosity. In response, the group called for the rebirth of the Russian Orthodox faith, and a renewal of the religious piety of the masses.

The Zealots of Piety included Fyodor Rtishchev
Fyodor Rtishchev
Feodor Alekseyevich Rtishchev was a boyar and an intimate friend of Alexis I of Russia who was renowned for his piety and alms-deeds....

, Archmandrite Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

 of the Novospassky Monastery
Novospassky Monastery
Novospassky Monastery is one of the fortified monasteries surrounding Moscow from south-east.It was the first monastery to be founded in Moscow in the early 14th century. The Saviour Church was its original katholikon...

 (future Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia), Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 Ivan Neronov of the Kazan Cathedral
Kazan Cathedral, Moscow
Kazan Cathedral , also known as the "Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan", is a Russian Orthodox church located on the northeast corner of Red Square in Moscow, Russia...

, archpriest
An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.In the 16th and 17th centuries, during...

s Avvakum
Avvakum Petrov was a Russian protopope of Kazan Cathedral on Red Square who led the opposition to Patriarch Nikon's reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church...

, Loggin, Lazar, and Daniil. The members of the Zealots of Piety wanted to enhance the authority of 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...

 and increase its influence upon the people. Among other goals of the circle were the struggle against the shortcomings and vices of the clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, revival of church sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

s and other means for influencing the masses. They also aimed to assist the needy and weak in Russian society, protecting them from social injustice, and to spread the Gospel to the Russian people, making faith more integral in daily life. The Zealots of Piety soon became the actual rulers of the Russian Orthodox Church, thanks to the support from the tsar, who had paid much attention to the advice of his confessor.

After Nikon had been elected patriarch in 1652, the groups turned against their former member, protesting several of his reforms. Over time, the group began to dissolve, as many of its members became active figures in the Old Believers'
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

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