Eparchy of St. Petersburg

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The Eparchy of St. Petersburg is a diocese under the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia with the see of the ruling bishop located in the city of St. Petersburg in northwestern Russia. The diocese has existed under varying names since its founding in 1742. Currently, the borders of the diocese are common with those of the Leningrad Region.


The Eparchy of St. Petersburg was founded by decree of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna on September 1, 1742 by separating the territory of the new eparchy from that of the Eparchy of Novgorod. Nikodim I (Srebnitsky) was named its first bishop on September 13, 1742 with the title of Bishop of St. Petersburg and Schliesselburg. The territory of the new eparchy included the Provinces of St. Petersburg and Vyborg.

In 1764, the Province of Revel was added to the St. Petersburg eparchy and the title of the ruling bishop was changed to Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Revel. On January 1, 1775, the extent of the eparchy changed again with the addition of the Eparchy of Novgorod to that of the St. Petersburg. The title of the ruling bishop then became Archbishop of Novgorod and St Petersburg. In 1783, the title of the ruling hierarch was raised to Metropolitan.

As Church in St. Petersburg matured under the rule of Metr. Gavriil (Petrov-Shaposhnikov), the eparchy became the spiritual center of Russia. The addition of the monasteries on the islands of Valaam and Konevets added to this atmosphere. In 1797, Metr. founded the theological academy that would become one of four academies in Russia.

During the nineteenth century the area of the St. Petersburg eparchy under went many changes. In 1803, Estonia and Finland were added to the eparchy. Then, in mid century, first, Estonia, in 1865, was made a separate eparchy, followed in 1892 when Finland and the province of Novgorod were both made separate eparchies. With the changes of 1892, the extent of the eparchy of St. Petersburg was reduced to coincide with the borders of St. Petersburg Province and the title of the ruling hierarch changed to Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga. As 1917 began the number of religious institutions in the eparchy included 790 churches, sixteen monasteries, and 465 chapels with 1700 clergy and 1629 monastics.

After the Bolsheviks assumed power in Russia in November 1917, many of the churches and monasteries were closed over the next several years. The theological education institutions were closed and persecution of the clergy and monastics began with many being martyred. Through the 1920s and into the 1930s the persecutions intensified. The last monastery in the eparchy, Alexander Nevsky Lavra, stayed open until it was closed in 1933. By June 1941, the Orthodox presence in the eparchy was reduced to twenty one churches, with only eight in the re-named city of Leningrad.

As the Great Patriotic War began in 1941, the eparchy joined in the defense of the city when it came under siege. The faithful of the eparchy contributed over 17.4 million rubles to the defense fund. Metropolitan Alexei (Simansky) remained in the Leningrad throughout the siege.

In 1946, after the conclusion of the war, religious life of the city began to recover beginning with the theological academy and seminary that were allowed to re-open in buildings at 17 Obvodny Canal Embankment. By 1949, the number of churches in the eparchy increased to 57, with 16 within the city of Leningrad. Under the persecutions of Nikita Krushchev the number of churches in the eparchy decreased to 47 by 1965. These parishes were served by 120 priests. In 1963, Metr. Nikodim (Rotov) was named the ruling hierarch of the eparchy of Leningrad, and with the addition of the Eparchy of Novgorod in 1967, he became Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, the position he held until his reposed in 1978.

The eparchy began to revive in 1988 under the leadership of Metropolitan Alexei (Ridiger) of Leningrad and Novgorod aided by the government policy of ‘’peristroika’’. On December 27, 1995, Metr. Vladimir (Kotlyarov) of St. Petersburg and Ladoga was named to lead the eparchy that had been returned to an area that consisted only of the Leningrad Region. By 2003, the eparchy had grown to 347 churches and 109 chapels, with 179 churches in re-named St Petersburg, supported by 557 priests. Additionally, there were seven male and four female monasteries, and seventeen representations of monasteries. The parish churches are organized into twenty districts that are headed by archpriests, under the supervision of the St. Petersburg Eparchy administration that is led by the metropolitan. The metropolitan is advised by an eparchy council of twelve and seven departments. Since 2000, the main cathedral and seat of the metropolitan of the eparchy is Kazan Cathedral in central St. Petersburg.

The eparchy administers through the rectorship of vicar Bp. Konstantin (Goryanov) the St. Petersburg Theological Academy and Seminary. In 2000, the combined schools graduated 569 students. The eparchy also provides social support through the eparchy hospital that is dedicated to St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, an eparchy alms-house that is dedicated to St. Andrew of Crete, and the House of Compassion. Children’s Orphanage. A number of homeless shelters are also supported.

The eparchy publishes two journals, the St. Petersburg Eparchy News and Church Messenger, as well as the newspaper Orthodoxy and Life. Additionally, the eparchy administers the City of St. Peter Radio.

Ruling hierarchs

Bishop of St. Petersburg and Schliesselburg (1742)

  • Nikodim I (Srebnitsky) 1742- ?

Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Revel (1764)

Archbishop of Novgorod and St Petersburg (1775}

Metropolitan of Novgorod and St Petersburg (1783)

  • Gavriil (Petrov-Shaposhnikov) 1770-1799

Metropolitan of Novgorod and St. Petersburg (1783)

  • Amvorsy (Podobedov) 1799-1818
  • Serafim (Glagolevsky) 1821-1843
  • Isidor (Nikolsky) 1860-1892

Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga (1892)

  • Pallady (Raev) 1892-1898
  • Anthony (Vadkovsky) 1898-1912
  • Alexei (Simansky)

Metropolitan of Leningrad (19xx)

  • Nikodim (Rotov) 1963-1967

Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod (1967)

  • Nikodim (Rotov) 1967-1978
  • Alexei (Ridiger) 1988-19

Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga

  • Vladimir (Kotlyarov) 1995-