Flavian (Gorodetsky) of Kiev

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Metropolitan Flavian as archimandrite at the July 1882 All Japan Church Council

Metropolitan Flavian (Gorodetsky) of Kiev and Galich, who, being fluent the Chinese language, was assigned as a missionary and, then, as the head of the sixteenth Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing. After his election to the episcopate, he serviced as ruling bishop at the number sees in western Russia, then finally as Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich.


Nicholas Gorodetsky was born on July 26, 1840 into the family of a nobleman of the city of Oryol. He lost his parents early in his youth, his father when he was four years old and his mother when he was ten. Nicholas was raised by his aunt, who provided him his early education. Nicholas began his secondary education in 1853 upon entering the fourth grade level at the gymnasium in Oryol. Graduating from the gymnasium he entered the law faculty of Moscow University. While attending the law faculty, deep religious feelings instilled during his youth came to fore. During his fourth year he abandoned worldly pursuits and withdrew from the university. Nicholas traveled by foot to the Nicholas-Speshinsky Monastery where he was accepted as a novice performing his obedience in the kitchen and refectory.

On December 10, 1863, he transferred his obedience as a novice to the St. Simeon Stavropighial Monastery in Moscow. There, he continued his labors with Christian humility. On December 23, he as blessed to wear an altar server’s robe. Soon was appointed sacristan in the temple with obedience to keep the church and its vessels clean and to dust and remove all rubbish.

In 1866, Nicholas was appointed secretary to Archimandrite Gury who was assigned rector of the Russian ambassadorial church in Rome. On February 17, 1866, Nicholas was tonsured a monk with the name Flavian. On February 18, he was ordained hierodeacon. Soon, however, relations between the Russian government and the papal court were broken and Archimandrite Gury and hierodeacon Flavian were sent to Kazan via Naples, where Archimandrite Gury had been appointed to the faculty of the Kazan Theological Seminary under Bishop Cheboksark, while Dn. Flavian was assigned to one of the local monasteries. On April 9, 1867, Dn. Flavian was ordained a hieromonk. On February 15, 1868, hieromonk Flavian was assigned to a Simferopol monastery where he taught classes in church law and other subjects.

On June 6, 1873, Fr. Flavian was assigned as a member of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing, China. At the time the mission was restrained from active evangelism and functioned as a semi-diplomatic station between the Chinese and Russian governments. For the next ten years Fr. Flavian engrossed himself in the missionary service at the mission. He eagerly, learned both spoken and written Chinese language. He then continued the work of translating the prayer and service books into Chinese as well as collecting and editing the documents that had been translated previously. Additionally, he produced documents useful in the business affairs of the mission.

With the departure of the mission head, Archimandrite Pallady, Fr. Flavian was raised to the dignity of archimandrite and appointed on January 2, 1879, head of the mission. Using the knowledge of Chinese he had attained, he, with his two assistants, Frs. Nicholas Adorutsky and Alex Vinogardoff, began conducting the religious services at the mission in Chinese. This resulted in an increase in the number of Chinese Orthodox. He also continued the work of his predecessor who had been working on a Chinese-Russian dictionary.

Under Archimandrite Flavian’s leadership the candidate for the first Chinese Orthodox priest was prepared for ordination. In June 1882, a party of Archimandrite Flavian, his candidate, Mitrophan Ji, and two candidates for reader traveled to Tokyo, Japan. On June 20, 1882, Bishop Nicholas of Japan ordained Mitrophan a deacon, followed on June 29 as a priest.

As his ten years with the Beijing mission came to a close, Archimandrite Flavian looked to re-assignment to a more restful position. In 1884, he was transferred back to Russia and on February 2, 1885 was consecrated Bishop of Aksaisk, vicar to the Don diocese. Then, Bp. Flavian was transferred as Bishop of Lyublinsky, vicar of the Kholmsky and Warsaw diocese. Then, on December 14, 1891, Bp. Flavian was installed as ruling Bishop of Kholmsky and Warsaw. The following year on May 15, 1892, Bp. Flavian was raised to the dignity of Archbishop of Kholmsky and Warsaw. Also, from 1892 to 1894, he served on the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia.

On February 21, 1898, Apb. Flavian was elected Archbishop of Kartalinsky and Kakhetinsky and Exarch of Georgia. In the same year he was appointed as a permanent member of the Holy Synod. On November 10, 1901. Abp. Flavian was elected Archbishop of Kharkov and Akhtyrsky and then on February 1, 1903 he became Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich. During the short time he was Archbishop of Kharkov, Abp. Flavian was able impact the life in the diocese significantly. He transformed the eparichial orphanage and strengthen the religious education activity of the clergy and of the theological educational institutions.

Metropolitan Flavian reposed on November 4, 1915.

Succession box:
Flavian (Gorodetsky) of Kiev
Preceded by:
Bishop of Aksaisk
(Vicar Don Diocese)

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Modest (Strelbitsky)
Bishop of Lyublin
(Vicar Kholm and Warsaw Diocese)

Succeeded by:
Gedeon (Pokrovsky)
Preceded by:
Leontius (Lebedinsky)
Archbishop of Kholm and Warsaw
Succeeded by:
Hieronymus (Egzemplarsky)
Preceded by:
Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky)
Archbishop of Kartalin and Kakhetin
Exarch of Gerogia

Succeeded by:
Alexei (Opotsky)
Preceded by:
Ambrosius (Klucharev)
Archbishop of Kharkov and Akhtyrka
Succeeded by:
Arsenius (Briantsev)
Preceded by:
Theognost (Lebedev)
Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich
Succeeded by:
Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky)
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