Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad

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Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotor) of Leningrad and Novgorod, was a hierarch of the Church of Russia during the post World War II era in the Soviet Union. Active in the international arena of church relations, he was considered in the West a political representative of the Soviet regime.


Boris Georgievich Rotov was born in 1929 in Frolovo in southwestern Russia. He emerged into public life as a church figure after he took monastic vows in 1947 with the name Nikodim. He first served in the Arch-Eparchy of Yaroslavl. From 1949, he received various assignment to different churches in the Yaroslavl eparchy.

In 1955, Nikodim graduated from the Leningrad Theological Academy, receiving his diploma in absentia. In 1956, he was assigned to the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem, and upon being raised to the dignity of archimandrite he was made the head of the mission in 1957. After his return to the Soviet Union in 1959, he was placed in charge of the Office of the Moscow Patriarchate. In 1960, he was elevated to the position of Bishop of Podolsk, a vicar in the Moscow Eparchy. Through his efforts, Metr. Nikodim improved relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the communities of Old Believers and Old Ritualists.

Quickly, Bp. Nikodim was made Bishop of Yaroslavl, and then in 1961, he was made archbishop and a full member of the Holy Synod. In early 1963, he was appointed Metropolitan of Minsk, followed with an appointment later in the year to the position of Metropolitan of Leningrad. In 1967, Metr. Nikodim was placed in charge of the Eparchy of Novgorod. In 1974, he was named the Exarch of Western Europe for the Patriarchate.

In addition to his ecclesial positions, Metr. Nikodim held a number of administrative positions as well as took part as a delegate to various international religious meetings. Many of these positions placed him in the international religious arena apparently representing a religious face for the Soviet Union. These positions included head of the Department of Foreign Church Relations from 1960 to 1972 and of the Editorial Board of the Patriarchate from 1960 to 1963. The meetings included heading the Russian Orthodox Church delegations to Pan-Orthodox meetings in 1961, 1961, 1964, and 1968. In 1975, he was named President of the World Congress of Churches.

Metr. Nikodim reposed in Rome, Italy on September 5, 1978, where he was representing the Church of Russia in the enthronement of Pope John Paul I. Metr. Nikodim was buried in the Nikolskoe Cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.

During his career Metr. Nikodim bore a reputation in the West as an agent of the Soviet regime, presenting for it an agenda of the Soviet images of peace and unity in international meetings he attended. For many, he was considered an agent of the Soviet government, possibly of the KGB.