Antonin (Kapustin)

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Antonin (Kapustin) was a monastic clergyman of the Church of Russia. He was a noted byzantologist and honorary member of many academies and scientific societies. He is noted for his activities in Greece and the Holy Land establishing ecclesiastical facilities and support for Russian pilgrims.


Andrew Kapustin was born on August 12 , 1817 in the village of Baturino in the province of Perm in to a priestly family. He attended the Kiev Theological Academy, where he taught after his graduation. Entering monasticism, he was tonsured as monk with the name Antonin and rose to the rank of archimandrite.

A theologian and professor at the Kiev Theological Academy, in 1847, Fr. Antonin was assigned to the Church of the Savior, a church in disrepair in Athens, Greece that had been purchased by the Russian government of Tsar Alexander II to serve the Russian community in Athens. He led the effort to restore the church. During his service in Athens he also supervised archaeological excavations under the church that revealed the ruins of an earlier church and an even older Roman bath.

In 1860, Fr. Antonin served as the priest of the Russian embassy church in Constantinople where he was introduced into a new circle of acquaintances with influential Russians and Greeks in the Near East.

In 1865, Fr. Antonin joined, as chief, the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, a mission that had been officially established and recognized by the Ottoman Sultan in 1857. During Fr. Antonin's administration of the mission, he worked intently to strengthen the mission and its responsibilities to help Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem. In accomplishing the task, he began a vigorous activity of land acquisitions in Palestine and established hospices. These acquisitions were also inspired as a means of resisting the activities by Protestants and Roman Catholics who were active acquiring land and buildings in Palestine.

In November 1868, Fr. Antonin made his first acquisition, that of the Oak of Mamre, that according to the Scriptures was where the Old Testament Patriarch Abraham provided hospitality to three angels. In 1874, he had built near the Oak a hostel for the pilgrims.

Archim. Antonin, with Igumen Parthenius, acquired land at the summit of the Mount of Olives on which, in 1870, they built the Church of the Ascension with a 200 foot bell tower. Later, after Fr. Antonin's repose, Igumen Parthenius established the Convent of the Ascension at the site.

In 1871, Fr. Antonin acquired an extensive olive tree plantation upon which were two buildings that were used to shelter Russian pilgrims. The property was expanded with the purchase of adjacent lands. On this land, Fr. Antonin directed that pilgrims who wished to settle in Jerusalem had to build houses and plant the gardens around them at their own expense. That is why there are no blocks of cells for monastics when Russian nuns formed a separate convent, the Gorneye Convent, and began living there. The Church of the Meeting of the Most Holy Virgin Mary with St. Elizabeth was consecrated on March 30, 1883 at the convent. This consecration led to the addition of this feast to the Orthodox Liturgical calendar with the composition of the service added to the Menaion by Archim. Antonin[1].

In 1882, Archim. Antonin, with Conrad Shik, a German archaeologist and architect, supervised the excavations of the plot of land acquired by the Russian government in 1859 next the the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem The excavations known as the "Russian Excavations", uncovered a number of archaeological findings dated to the time of Christ, including the "needle's eye", and the Threshold of Judgment Gate.

In 1886, Archim. Antonin purchased land in Jaffa, in southern Tel-Aviv, on which the tomb of the righteous Tavifa (Acts: 9, 36) is located. Initially, a garden was planted on the land. In 1894, a temple was built, dedicated to the Apostle Peter, that was consecrated by Gerasimus, Patriarch of Jerusalem,.

Archimandrite Antonin reposed on March 24, 1894.