Open main menu

OrthodoxWiki β

Basil Kalika of Novgorod

Our father among the saints Basil Kalika of Novgorod, also Vasily Kalika {Russian: Василий Калика) was the Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov from 1330 to 1352. St. Basil Kalika is commemorated on July 16.


Little is known of the early life of Basil Kalika. Baptized with the name Gregory, he grew up close to the Orthodox Church. The name Kalika. meaning "pilgrim", indicated that he had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land before his consecration, a fact that he mentioned in a letter he wrote to Bp. Fedor of Tver in 1347 that was included into two Russian chronicles, the Sophia First Chronicle and the Novgorod Second Chronicle.

He was a priest at the Church of Cosmas and Damian in Novgorod and then a monk at the Holy Angel's Monastery in Novgorod. [1] After Abp. Moses retired as archbishop of Novgorod in 1359, Fr. Basil was elected to succeed him by the Novgorod veche.[2] After his election he was sent to Vladimir-on-Volynia to be consecrated by Metr. Feognost after, according to a Greek-language register, being canonically elected from amongst three candidates by a council of bishops in Volynia.[3]

Quickly, Abp. Basil began a program of improvement to the church properties of Novgorod. Between 1331 and 1333 he had built a stone wall along the northeast river side of the Detinets (Kremlin). He renovated the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, redid the roof, and set up an iron fence around the cathedral. Also in 1335, he commissioned a number of icons inside the cathedral and hung the Vasily Gates in the cathedral.[4]

Several modern scholars have accused Basil of not having done enough to fight the Strigolniki heresy, an ill defined heresy mainly among tradespeople and low-ranking clergy that invaded Novgorod and Pskov during the fourteenth and early fifteenth century. The Orthodox Church considers the heresy to have ended in 1427.[5] His letter to Bishop Feodor of Tver has been interpreted as dualist (that is, similar to the Strigolniki) in nature. [6] However, the building projects that Abp. Basil undertook, his vigorous political activity, and fully using the church's wealth and property as it were, would have violated the beliefs held by the Strigolniki against clerical or ecclesiastical ownership of land.

Over the years, Basil showed himself to be both an astute political player and a fearless and tireless religious leader. In 1339, he sent his nephew as part of the Novgorodian embassy to sign a peace with Sweden, in which agreement he sought to protect Orthodox Karelians from being killed if they crossed over to Novgorod.[7] In 1342, when Ontsifor Lukinich caused a riot in the city, Basil and his vicar, Boris, negotiated peace between the warring parties. In 1348, when King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden demanded that the Novgorodians debate his theologians over the true faith, Basil, in consultation with the posadnik, told Magnus to send his theologians to Constantinople, since that is where the Russians had acquired their understanding of Christianity.

In 1352, the government of Novgorod sent Abp. Basil to rebuild the fortress of Orejhov, that had been destroyed in fighting between Novgorod and Sweden.[8] The remnants of the stone wall that he built were excavated in 1969 and can be seen in the courtyard of the fortress today.

Later in 1352, Abp. Basil was called to Pskov, which at that time was being ravaged by plague. He went to the city and held a number of processions and liturgies until the plague subsided. On his trip returning to Novgorod via the Ahelon River he took ill with plague and died at the Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel on the Shelon on July 3.[9] His body was brought back to Novgorod and interred in the Martirievskaia Porch in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom where many of his predecessors and successors are buried.


  1. Michael C. Paul, "Episcopal Election in Novgorod Russia 1156-1478", Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 72, No. 2(June, 2003), 265.
  2. Paul, "Episcopal Election in Novgorod Russia", 265.
  3. Paul, "Episcopal Election in Novgorod Russia", 270.
  4. Makarii (Veretennikov, Petr Ivanovich; Archimandrite), “Vasil’evskie Vrata.” In Makarievskaia Chteniia. Russkaia Kul’tura XVI veka – epoka Mitropolita Makariia. Materialy X Rossiiskoi nauchnoi konferentsii posviashchenoi Pamiati Sviatitelia Makariia. Vypusk 10. (Mozhaisk: Terra, 2003): 111-119.
  5. B. A. Rybakov, Strigolniki: Russkie Gumanisty XIV Stoletiia (Moscow: Nauk, 1993); David M Goldfrank, "Burn, Baby, Burn: Popular Culture and Heresy in Late Medieval Russia," The Journal of Popular Culture 31, no. 4 (1998): 17–32.
  6. A. S. Khoroshev, Tserkov v sotsialno-politicheskoi sisteme novgoroskoi feodal'noi respubliki (Moscow: Moscow State University, 1987), 67-8; N. A. (Nataliia Aleksandrovna)Kazakova, and Ia. S. (Iakov Solomonovich) Lur’e, Antifeodal'nye ereticheskie dvizheniia na Rusi XIV-nachala XVI veka (Moscow: AN SSSR, 1955), 33-38; B. A. Rybakov, Strigolniki, 3.
  7. Paul, "Secular Power", 253.
  8. Paul, "Secular Power", 237, 249.
  9. A. V. Mikhailov, "Poslednii put' Vasiliia Kaliki", Novgorod i Novgorodskaia Zemlia 11 (1997)
Succession box:
Basil Kalika of Novgorod
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Novgorod
Succeeded by:
Help with box