Diocese of Tiraspol-Dubossary

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The Diocese of Tiraspol-Dubossary is under the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia. The diocese is located in and includes all of Transnistria, a country located between Moldava and Ukraine that is not universally recognized.


The origins of the Diocese of Tiraspol-Dubossary are traced back to the Orthodox missionary efforts in the area of Moldavia and Bessarabia during the eighteenth century as the hold of the Ottoman Turks on the area was collapsing. The area has a rich tradition of association with Orthodoxy. The territory was part of the Christian Kievan Rus, Galicia-Volyn principality, and the Russian Empire.

Church building developed in the province during the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the emergence of the first Orthodox church in the territory on the left bank of the Dniester River. During the years 1750 to 1760 the establishment of Orthodox parishes began near the Danube coast and the khanate of Ukraine, such as that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1761, St. Michael in 1768, and Michael the Archangel in 1770. During the 1770s, Archpriest John Palyuhovich encouraged the revival in the Orthodox territory, establishing the Holy Trinity Church in 1779, which to this day is the oldest church in the Transnistrian village of Rashkov. In 1780, the Cathedral Church of the Assumption was built in Dubossary.

After the conclusion of the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791, additional Orthodox churches were built as Russian Orthodox migrants flocked to the area to support the Russian army garrisons and priests that came to the area. Archbishop Ambrose (Serebrennikov) of Ekaterinoslav and Metropolitan of Chisinau and Archpriest Mikhail Strelbitsky were associated with the movement. The formation of Orthodox parishes continued through the following century consolidating Orthodoxy as the dominant religion in Transnistria. By the beginning of the twentieth century there were 117 parishes in the province.

The Orthodox Church in the area suffered persecution and destruction following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, resulting in the closing of more than 80 churches through the 1930s. In 1921, the Tiraspol area became a vicariate of the Diocese of Kherson-Odessa led by Bishop Alexis (Bazhenov). Bp. Nectarios (Grigoryev) was Bishop of Tiraspol from 1948 to 1949, before a new wave of persecution of Orthodoxy destroyed almost all the parishes during the 1950s.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, a Bendery vicariate of the Moldovan Orthodox Church was established on September 2, 1990 that included the southern regions of the left-bank Moldova. On July 18, 1995, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church established the Dubossary vicariate in the Moldovan Metropolitan Church, with Bishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) consecrated on September 1, 1995 as Vicar. On October 19, 1998, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elevated the Dubossary vicariate to a diocese and named Bishop Justinian as Bishop of Tiraspol and Dubossary.

The following years saw active construction of many churches and cathedrals under the direction of Bp. Justinian, including on the anniversary of the birth of Christ in the year 2000 the new complex of the Cathedral of Christ-Church of the Nativity in Tiraspol. On March 5, 2010, the Holy Synod elevated Bp. Justinian to Archbishop and administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the United States as a vicar of the Moscow diocese with the title of the Naro-Fominsk. Bp. Savva of Krasnogorsk, Vicar of the Moscow diocese, was appointed as Abp. Justinian's successor as the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Tiraspol and Dubossary.