THE MOVEMENT TOWARD UNITY OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Metropolitan Petro Mohyla canonized by Ukrainian Orthodox Church
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate recently canonized a new saint: Kyiv Metropolitan Petro Mohyla (1596-1647).
The canonization ceremony took place in Kyiv on December 12, 1996, during a special Sobor of the UOC-KP held at St. Volodymyr Cathedral.
The day's events began with a divine liturgy and requiem service in Metropolitan Mohyla's memory. The Sobor was opened by Patriarch Filaret; in attendance were Church hierarchs, clergy, scholars and cultural activists.
The gathering was addressed by Patriarch Pimen of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, who was present with other hierarchs from his Church, as well as by Leonid Kravchuk, first president of independent Ukraine; Pavlo Movchan, president of the Prosvita Society; Volodymyr Muliava, hetman of the Ukrainian Kozak Society; and A. Koval, chairman of the government Committee on Religious Affairs.
The canonization of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla had been discussed in Church circles for several years. Then, in October of 1996, the UOC-KP established a committee on canonization. The life, work and deeds of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla were studied, and a decision was made to declare him a saint.
In his address to the Sobor, Patriarch Filaret delineated five fundamental criteria that must be met for canonization: a martyr's death or suffering for Christ's faith; miraculous deeds; a righteous life (not always exemplified by miraculous deeds); service to the Church in disseminating Christianity; service as a church prelate.
From nobleman to metropolitan
According to the Encyclopedia of Ukraine (Volume III, University of Toronto Press, 1993), Petro Mohyla was a nobleman, son of Simeon, hospodar of Wallachia and Moldavia, and the Hungarian princess Margareta. He was tutored at the Lviv Dormition Brotherhood School and studied theology, first at the Zamostia Academy and later in Holland and France. After his return to Ukraine, he entered the military service of the Polish crown hetman and fought as an officer against the Turks in the battles of Cecora (1620) and Khotyn (1621).
In 1621-1627 he received estates in the Kyiv region. Through his friendship with Metropolitan Yov Boretsky, he became interested in the affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In 1627 he was chosen archimandrite of the Kyivan Cave Monastery.
As archimandrite and a deputy in the Polish Sejm, Mohyla lobbied the Polish government to restore the legality of the Orthodox Church in the Polish Commonwealth, which it did in 1632. That same year, Orthodox deputies in the Sejm nominated Mohyla as the metropolitan of Kyiv. He was consecrated on May 7, 1633, in the Dormition Church in Lviv.
As metropolitan, the encyclopedia notes, Mohyla improved the Church's organizational structure, set strict dogmatic guidelines, reformed the monastic orders and enriched the theological canon.
He brought together a circle of scholars and cultural leaders known as the Mohyla Atheneum, which produced an impressive body of theological scholarship, prepared new editions of the Bible and the lives of the saints, and elaborated a new catechism. Mohyla himself is the author of numerous theological works.
In 1631 Mohyla established a school at the Kyivan Cave Monastery (Pecherska Lavra); a year later it was merged with the Kyiv Epiphany Brotherhood School to create a college, the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, which became the largest center of scholarship and education in Eastern Europe.
Under Metropolitan Mohyla's guidance, printing flourished and the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press published numerous important works. He donated a large portion of his personal wealth to uncovering and restoring medieval churches and other religious landmarks in Kyiv, including St. Sophia Cathedral, the Church of the Tithes (marking the first archeological excavation in Ukraine), churches at the Pecherska Lavra and others.
Metropolitan Mohyla established close educational and cultural ties with other Orthodox Churches, particularly with those in Moldavia and Wallachia.
He bequeathed most of his estate to various Church institutions. He was buried in the Dormition Cathedral (which was destroyed in 1941) at the Kyivan Cave Monastery.
Saint's feast day
January 1, 1997, marked the 350th anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla. January 1 (according to the Gregorian calendar) has been set aside as the new saint's feast day.
The Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate also decided to prepare an icon of the new saint, to publish his life story, compose a divine liturgy in his name, and build a church in his honor in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate decided at its last synod to also canonize Petro Mohyla.
UNESCO recognizes Mohyla
In related news, to mark the 400th anniversary of Mohyla's birth, UNESCO held an international scholarly colloquium at its headquarters in Paris. The November 5, 1996, event was organized by the Embassy of Ukraine in France, with the participation of the Shevchenko Scientific Society of Europe.
Among the colloquium's speakers were Ukraine's Ambassador to France Yurii Kochubei, Vice Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Ivan Kuras, Patriarch Filaret of the UOC-KP, and Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn, exarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in France.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, March 9, 1997, No. 10, Vol. LXV
| Home Page |