Philip I of Moscow

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Philip I of Moscow was the third Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia after the election of Metr. Jonas in 1448 to the see of Moscow without the agreement of the Patriarch of Constatinople, the act that established the autonomy of the Church of Russia.


Little is known of Philip’s early life. He is first identified in 1455 when he was already Archbishop of Suzdal. After the resignation of Metr. Theodosius, Abp. Philip was elected Metropolitan of Moscow in 1464. He was active in the defense of Orthodoxy in the struggle of the Russian lands against the efforts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to influence Novgorod.

This was the time when Grand Duke Ivan III was consolidating the position of Moscow in the politics of eastern Europe. With the advance of the Ottoman Turks into southeastern Europe, the Pope of Rome looked to the rising Russian state as a possible help in recovering the Christian lands taken by the Turks. As Ivan III was widowed, the Pope offered to Ivan the hand of Zoe Paleologue, the niece of the last Emperor Constantine XI as his wife. Zoe was under the care of the Pope at the time. By this marriage the Pope hoped to gain Ivan’s support and perhaps, through Zoe, to win Ivan over to a Church union.

In 1472, Zoe, now Sophia, traveled to Moscow in company with a group of Italian architects and Greeks, led by a papal legate who had caused the Latin cross to be carried in front of the traveling group. When Metr. Philip learned of this, he declared that he would leave the city if the cross were to enter through the city gate. The legate, then, dispensed with the cross. After meeting the legate Ivan politely deflected his exhortations about union of the Churches. While having been educated under Catholicism, Sophia responded to Metr. Philip’s fears by advising that in Russia she would rather be the wife of the protector of Orthodoxy.[1]

Metr. Philip’s effort to rebuild the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin in 1472 was not successful as the workers proved inexperienced and the building collapsed. The cathedral was completed later under the supervision of Aristotile Fioravanti.

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Philip I of Moscow
Preceded by:
Bishop of Suzdal
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Moscow
Succeeded by:
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  1. Francis Dvornik. The Slavs in European History and Civilization, Rutgers University Press, New Bruswick, New Jersey, 1962 ISBN 0-8135-0403-1