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Anastasy (Gribanovsky) of Kishinev

Metropolitan Anastasy (Gribanovsky) of Kishinev and Khotin (1873-1965) was a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the second First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.


In the world Aleksandr Alekseyevich Gribanovsky, he was born August 6, 1873, in Bratki village, Borisoglebsky district of Tambov province, Russia, to Priest Aleksey and his wife Anna (nee Karmazina).

After completing the Tambov Religious School and then the Theological Seminary, he enrolled in the Moscow Theological Academy, then under the rectorship of Archimandrite Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the future Metropolitan and First Hierarch of the ROCOR. After completing the Academy, in April 1898, he was tonsured a monk by Bishop Alexander of Tambov with the name Anastasy for St Anastasy of Sinai. On April 23, 1898, he was ordained hierodeacon, and shortly thereafter hieromonk.

In 1900, hieromonk Anastasy was appointed inspector of the Bethany Theological Seminary, near Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra. In 1901 he became inspector of the Moscow Theological Seminary, with elevation to the rank of archimandrite. On June 29, 1906, he was ordained Bishop of Serpukhov, vicar of the Moscow diocese. At his ordination, he pronounced a remarkable homily "The True Way of Christ's Pastoral Work," in which he prophesied the upcoming turmoil and persecutions.

In the position of vicar of the Moscow diocese, Bishop Anastasy's responsibilities included daily services in the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and other Muscovite churches and monasteries, as well as visitations of parishes, direction of institutions of theological learning, and direction of a committee to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino and the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.

In May 1914, Bishop Anastasy was appointed to the Kholm and Liublin cathedra. A month and a half later, the First World War began, and, in addition to his diocesan duties, Bishop Anastasy served soldiers on the front, for which he was decorated with the Order of St Vladimir, and, later, the order of St Alexander Nevsky. In 1915, he was forced to evacuate from the front to into the interior, and lived in Moscow at the Chudov Monastery. In the end of 1915, he was appointed to the Kishinev cathedra and in 1916 elevated to the rank of archbishop. With the opening of the Romanian front, Archbishop Anastasy once again found himself in the area of military operations.

In August 1917 he left Bessarabia for Moscow to participate in the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918. During voting, his candidacy received 77 votes for the patriarchy; he then participated in the preparation of the enthronement of Patriarch St Tikhon of Moscow, which he described in his article "Election and Enthronment of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, his personality and work." Archbishop Anastasy was elected a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops.

In October 1918, he departed from Moscow headed for Odessa with the hope of being able to return to the Kishinev cathedra, which was under Romanian occupation. He was not able, however, to return to Bessarabia because of pressure from Romanian authorities to leave the Russian Church and enter into the jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate. He categorically refused schism and was forced to remain in Odessa. With the Bolshevik invasion, he was forced to leave for Constantinople in 1919. Briefly returning to Russia, he visited Novorosiisk, Rostov, and Novocherkassk, where he made contacts with the Supreme Church Authority of South-East Russia, under the leadership of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev. He then once again left Russia for Constantinople through Odessa.

In 1921, by decree of the Temporary Higher Church Administration Abroad, he visited Mount Athos and the Holy Land, in order to be acquainted with the state of Russian monasteries in those locations. He then participated in the First All-Diaspora Council in Sremski Karlovtsi, Serbia, as administrator of Russian parishes in the Constantinapolitan district.

In 1923, at the invitation of Patriarch Meletius (Metaxakis) of Constantinople, he participated in the so-called "Pan Orthodox Congress" in Constantinople. The Congress made decisions about adopting the new calendar, allowing remarriage for clergy and married bishops, shortening services, eliminating fasts, and simplifying ecclesiastic robes. Archbishop Anastasy voiced his objections to such decisions, which he deemed uncanonical. Because the Ecumenical Patriarchate had forbidden the commemoration of Patriarch St. Tikhon at services in Russian parishes and demanded that Archbishop Anastasy sever ties with the ROCOR Synod, he was forced to leave Constantinople for Bulgaria via France. In Bulgaria, he participated in the concecration of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and then departed for Serbia. In 1924, he was appointed as administrator of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and departed for the Holy Land, where he spent the next 10 years.

In 1935, Archbishop Anastasy participated in a council called by Patriarch Varnava of Serbia with the aim of restoring unity in the Russian Church abroad. The Council was attended by Metropolitan Eulogius (Georgievsky), who headed the Western European Metropolitanate (the predecessor to the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe), Metropolitan Theophilus (Pashkovsky) of San Francisco, who headed the North American Metropolitanate (the predecessor to the OCA), and Bishop Dimitry (Voznesensky), who represented the Far East Metropolis. At this meeting, the unity of the Russian Church abroad was restored (albeit temporarily), and the bishop signed the Temporary Statues of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 1, which became the charter governing the ROCOR. At that time Archbishop Anastasy was elevated to the rank of metropolitan and appointed as assitant to Metropolitan Anthony.

After the death of Metropolitan Anthony in 1936, Metropolitan Anastasy was unanimously elected as the new First Hierarch of the ROCOR. In 1938, Metropolitan Anastasy presided over the Second All-Diaspora Council.

With the beginning of World War II, Metropolitan Anastasy found himself once again in the zone of hostilities as German forces bombed and then occuppied Belgrade in 1941. The invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941, prompted Joseph Stalin to reconsider state policies vis-a-vis the Russian Church. Stalin released bishops from prison and allowed churches to be reopened. With his permission, hierarchs in the Soviet Union elected Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Nizhny Novgorod as the new Patriarch of Russia on September 8, 1943. On October 21, 1943, in Vienna Metropolitan Anastasy together with eight exile hierarchs denounced the election as uncanonical.

With the approach of the Soviet army on Belgrade in September, 1944, the Synod of Bishops relocated to Vienna, Austria, and then, in the summer of 1945, to Munchen, Germany. Starting in 1948, many Russian displaced persons began to relocate to the United States. This prompted many to call for the Synod to relocate across the Atlantic, given especially the events of the 1946 Council of Cleveland, where the American Metropolia voted to break ties with the ROCOR Synod. Given these circumstances, on November 23, 1950, Metropolitan Anastasy left Munchen for New York. Immediately after his arrival in the United States, on November 25, 1950, he travelled to Jordanville, New York, where he consecrated Holy Trinity Cathedral, the main church of Holy Trinity Monastery. The consecration was followed by the first meeting of the ROCOR Council of Bishops on American soil with the participation of 11 hierarchs.

There also, and for the first (and only) time in the history of the ROCOR, Metropolitan Anastasy officiated at the blessing of Holy Chrism. Prior to this, the ROCOR received Chrism from the Serbian Church.

Once in America, Metropolitan Anastasy took residence at the New Kursk-Root Hermitage in Mahopac, New York. Metropolitan Anastasy's tenure saw the blossoming of ROCOR in America with the opening of about 100 new parishes and the consecration six new bishops: Anthony (Sinkevich) of Los Angeles, Averky (Taushev) of Syracuse and Holy Trinity, Sava (Rayevsky) of Sydney, Anthony (Medvedev) of San Francisco, Sava (Sarachevich) of Edmonton, and Nectary (Kontsevich) of Seattle. Every summer, starting in 1951, Metropolitan Anastasy would undertake a trip through the entire United States to California, where he would spend a significant part of the summer in San Francisco. There, at his initiative, the Synod established the parish of All Saints of Russian in Burlingame, California.

Because of his ill health, Metropolitan Anastasy petitioned for the election of a successor in 1964. To this purpose, the Council of Bishops met on May 27, 1964, and elected Bishop Philaret (Voznesensky) as the new First Hierarch. Metropolitan Anastasy retired; the Council awarded him the title of Beatitude with the right of wearing two panagias. The final act of his episcopal services saw the glorification of St John of Kronstadt by the same Council of Bishops. Soon afterward, Metropolitan Anastasy reposed on May 22, 1965. He was burried at Holy Trinity Monastery, in Jordanville, New York.

Succession box:
Anastasy (Gribanovsky) of Kishinev
Preceded by:
Bishop of Serpukhov, Vicar of Moscow Diocese
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Vladimir (Tikhonicky)
Bishop of Kholm and Liublin
Succeeded by:
Seraphim of Smolensk
Preceded by:
Platon (Rozhdestvensky)
Bishop of Kishinev and Bessarabia
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Kishinev and Bessarabia
Succeeded by:
Alexiy (Sergeev)
Preceded by:
Administrator of the Russian Ecclesiastic Mission in Jerusalem
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev
First Hierarch of ROCOR
Succeeded by:
Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York
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