Hilarion of Kiev

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Hilarion or Ilarion (Russian: Иларион, Ukrainian: Іларіон) was the first non-Greek Metropolitan of Kiev. He was elected metropolitan during the middle of the eleventh century.


Little is known of Hilarion’s life. According to the Primary Chronicle he was a priest serving at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Berestov near Kiev. He was noted as a well-educated man, a brilliant preacher, and writer. In 1051, according to the desire of Yaroslav I the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev, a local council of bishops elected Hilarion the Metropolitan of Kiev. His election by a local council challenged the standing tradition of the election of the metropolitan of Kiev by the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Hilarion’s election was opposed strongly by the Bishop of Novgorod, Luka Zhidiata. In the tenth to fifteenth centuries, the church, in what is now western Russia and Ukraine, was a dependency of the Church of Constantinople. Luka’s opposition appears to have been based upon the prerogative that the election of the ruling bishop of Kiev was that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Luka’s opposition to the seating of Hilarion did not go well with Prince Yaroslav’s wishes, and Luka was confined to the Kiev Caves Monastery. Luka remained there three years until his repose.

Hilarion codified the governance of the church life in Kievan Rus and defended the independence of the church against actions from the hierarchs of Constantinople. Hilarion’s tenure as metropolitan appears to have been short as the chronicles mention Metropolitan Efrem as the holder of the Kiev see in 1055.


While he served as metropolitan for only a short time, Hilarion left a greater legacy in four works of his that have survived. The works credited to Hilarion are:

Sermon on Law and Grace
Confession of Faith
Sermon on Spiritual Benefit to All Christians
collection of instructions for priests called Words to my brother Stylites, in Russian: Слово к брату столпнику.
Succession box:
Hilarion of Kiev
Preceded by:
Kirill I
Metropolitan of Kiev
Succeeded by:
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