Historical Background of the Kazan Diocese 

On the territory of Republic Tatarstan, which frontiers coincide with those of the Kazan diocese, Christianity appeared in the first centuries A. D., at the time, when it began expanding in Eastern Europe. In the period of the Great transmigration of peoples, in the 3rd 7th centuries AD it was already wide spread. There were found a lot of different Christian items on graveyards, in towns and cities of different archaeological cultures of this period. In 922 Islam became an official religion of Volzhskaya Bulgaria (Volga Bulgaria), which was situated on the south of modern Tatarstan, but there were Christians too. According to the chronicles, in 990 the Kiev Prince Vladimir sent to Bulgars a missionary called Mark Macedonian, four Bulgarian princes with their families were baptized. One of the archaeological monuments of Bulgar town was called Greek chamber probably it was an orthodox church. After the Mongol invasion, territory of Tatarstan became one of the parts of the Golden Horde. Since 1261 in the Golden Horde there were the Sarsk and Podolsk diocese of Russian Orthodox Church. The Bishops residence was situated in the capital of the Golden Horde, Sarai city. Temples of Volgskaya Bulgaria were subjected to him too. For the first time Kazan was described in the chronicle in 1276, when Khan Mengu-Timur gave the Bulgarian and Kazan land to his son-in-low, Prince Feodor (canonized as Feodor, wonderworker of Yaroslavl). The Kazan diocese was organized in the 16th century, when territories of Middle and Lower Povolzhje (Volga region) were joined to Russian state. 

The Kazan diocese of Russian Orthodox Church was organized by council, which was leaded by Metropolitan   -    Macarius of Moscow on April 3, 1555. Hegumen (abbot) of the Selizharov Monastery Gury (Rugotin) became the first Bishop of the Kazan land. He went to Kazan with Archimandrites Varsonofy and Herman and he was given instructions  not to baptize by force,  to be gentle with population of another faith, not to be cruel, and if it be necessary to set free from state law. In the hierarchical plan, the Kazan diocese was subjected to the Moscow Metropolitanate, became the third among the Eastern Russian dioceses after Moscow (metropoly) and Novgorod (archdiocese). Originally, it included territory of the Kazan khanate and neighborhood, conquered in 1552 and Vyatka land. In 1556 after the conquest of Astrakhan, all lands of the Middle and Lower Volga region were joined. In the second half of the 16th century the beginning of 17th century territories of Ural and Siberia followed them. After the 17th century, territory of the Kazan diocese was decreasing. In 1602 there was cut territory of Lower Povolzhje (the Astrakhan diocese), in 1620 Siberia (the Tobolsk diocese), in 1657 Vyatka land (the Vyatka diocese). In the first half of 18th century, the Kazan diocese was located on the territories of the Kazan and Ufa provinces, established by Peter I. In 1780s, frontiers of provinces and dioceses were rearranged according to   the reforms of Empress Catherine II. In the middle of 1790s, the Kazan diocese included newly set Kazan and Simbirsk provinces, established in 1789, in 1832 after creation of the Simbirsk diocese only Kazan province. Big part of Tatarstans territories of today in the 19th-20th centuries was situated in other dioceses. In the first half of 1920s, the Kazan diocese consisted of the Tatar, Chuvash and Mari republics. In 1946 there was organized the Cheboksary and Chuvash diocese, in 1993 the Yoshkar-Ola and Mari diocese. Since that time territory of the Kazan diocese is equal to Republic Tatarstan.

  ,     Before the revolution of 1917 bishops of the Kazan diocese were titled as of Kazan and Sviyazhsk, but Metropolitan Hermogen was titled as of Kazan and Astrakhan, Metropolitan Ioasaf as of Kazan and Bolgar. In 1795 1831, Kazan bishops were titled as of Kazan and Simbirsk. In the Soviet time until 1950 they were titled as of Kazan and Sviyazhsk, in 1944 1958 as of Kazan and Chistopol, in 1958 1993 as of Kazan and Mari, since 1993 of Kazan and Tatarstan.

In 1732 1738 the Kazan diocese was governed by archbishops, in 1738 1762 by bishops: Luka (Kanashevich) and Gavriil (Kremenetzky). After the period of Kazan enlighteners, missionary labors on Christianization of the Kazan area were almost stopped. It was Metropolitan Tikhon (Voinov), who governed here from 1699 to 1724, continued this work. In 1701 1795 freely were baptized 3683 natives, 7 churches and 1 school were opened for them. Hieromonk Alexy (Raifsky) made a big missionary work, after that he was a hegumen of the Sviyazhsk Dormition Monastery. In 1718 a school for children of clergy was opened, in 1732 it was reorganized to the Kazan Theological Seminary. During the lifetime of New Christening Bureau (1731-1764) 406 792 non-Russian natives were baptized. Totally, by the end of the XIX century there were 575 thousand christened Chuvashes, Mordvinians, Cheremis, Tatars and Votyaks in the Kazan diocese. Partly it may be explained by state privileges towards newly baptized non-Russian natives. Violent actions, carried out by some bishops, led to the fact that very many natives fell away from Christianity.

After the Church reform by Peter the Great, in 1744 the Kazan Clergy Department was reorganized to the Kazan Theological Consistory. According to the establishment of 1764 the Kazan diocese was ranked as the second class. There were 11 cloisters in the Kazan diocese: one of the first class (the Sviyazhsk Dormition Monastery), two of the second class (the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery and the Kazan Convent of the Mother of God) and eight of the third class. There were also some other monasteries and convents but they did not have any class (it means they did not receive any subsidy from state). By 1782, Kazan diocese had 1117 churches. For example, there were only 814 churches in Moscow diocese at that time.

    Since 1799 there were vicars in the Kazan diocese. At first was organized the Sviyazhsk vicariate (but in 1822 it was abolished), then the Cheboksary v. (1853), the Chistopol v. (1899), the Mamadysh v. (1907). All vicars lived in Kazan. Vicar of Chistopol was rector of Academy. Vicar of Cheboksary was a hegumen of the Kizichesky monastery. Vicar of Mamadysh was a hegumen of the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery. Vicars controlled parishes of baptized non-Russian natives and dealt with a missionary work.

Most important and remarkable events from the past of the Kazan diocese were the story with the Kazan icon of the Mother of God wich was found miraculously so as participation of Kazan citizens in emergency volunteer corps of Minin and Pozharsky, which were blessed by Patriarch Hermogen, former Kazan Metropolitan. After that, the Kazan icon of the Mother of God was glorified all over the Russia. It was St. Hermogen who wrote a description of miraculous finding of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God (he was participant of this event) and wonders from this icon. The Kazan icon of the Mother of God was found on July 5, 1579 by a 10 years old girl Matryona. Priest Yermolai (future Patriarch Hermogen) removed the newly found icon to the church and soon there were many wonders from it.

Original icon was kept in the Kazan Convent of the Mother of God till June 1904, and then it was stolen by a certain Chaikin. What happened with this icon after that? Its unknown. Fact of destruction of the icon was not proved by investigation. Some historians consider that a copy was stolen, and original was sent to Moscow in 1612. After St. Hermogen the governor of the Kazan diocese became Metropolitan Ephraim. In 1612 he sent the copy of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God to Minin and Pozharskys army.Some people thought it was the icon     (  . )which liberated Moscow from the Polish intervention.(Russian Orthodox Church commemorates this event on November 4). In 1613, Metropolitan Ephraim crowned Michael Fedorovich Romanov, first tsar from the Romanov dome. In 1654 (according to another source in 1656), Kazan citizens suffered from a plague epidemic. The icon of the Mother of God Of the Seven Lakes saved them miraculously. In 1660s, the Georgian-Raifa icon of the Mother of God glorified Kazan and Sviyazhsk lands. It saved people from a mortal infection.

In 1723 there was opened the Kazan Slavonic-Latin School. In 1732, it was reorganized to the Kazan Theological Seminary. In 1731 1764 there functioned in the Kazan diocese the New Christening Bureau. Thanks to this institution the great part of Chuvash, Udmurt and Mari people was converted to the Orthodoxy, but often it was made by force and these new Christians saved pagan customs in their everyday life. In 1798 there was opened the Kazan Theological Academy, but first attempt of its organization was failed and in 1818 it was reorganized to the Theological Seminary. In 1842 the Theological Academy was opened for the second time. It was the forth Theological Academy in Russia. There were many remarkable scientists among the students and professors of the Kazan Academy, f. e. philosopher Victor Ivanovich Nesmelov, expert in church law Ilia (Elias) Stepanovich Berdnikov, historian Peter Vasilievich Znamensky, and expert in Islam Gordiy Semenovich Sablukov.

In the time of Archbishop Grigory (Postnikov) (1848-1856) the funds of the Kazan Theological Academy were enriched by the books from the ancient library of the Solovetsky Monastery. In 1851 there was founded a magazine Orthodox interlocutor. Later many famous scientists wrote for this magazine: the historians Budrin, Kurganov, Tsarevsky, Ungerov, Pisarev, Krensky, Shchapov, expert in church law Berdnikov, ethnographists and missionaries Katanov, Mashanov, Ilminsky, archpriest Ephimy Malov, philosopher Nesmelov and others. The newspaper News of the Kazan Diocese existed since 1867 till 1919, Church and Social Life since 1905 till 1917. Under the bishop Antony (Khrapovetsky), the future first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad (1805 1900), the theological education reached its fullest flower. Besides the above-named magazines, in Kazan in different periods were published: weekly Church and Social Life, Missionary anti-Moslem Collection, Missionary Review. 

More than 80 students of the Kazan Theological Academy became bishops.

  ,   XX .Many of them in 20th century became martyrs: rector of Academy Metropolitan Anatoly (Grisyuk), archbishops Athanasy (Malinin), Varsonophy (Luzin), Victor (Ostrovidov), Gavriil (Abolimov), German (Ryashentsev), Gury (Stepanov), bishops Ioasaf (Udalov), Ioann (Poyarkov), Iov (Rogozhin), Irinei (Shulmin), Juvenalii (Maslovsky), Simeon (Shleev), Feodor (Pozdeevsky) and others.

In the first quarter of 19th century, there was opened Kazan section of Biblical society for translation of Holy Scripture to native languages. In 1814 the New Testament was translated to Tatar language, in 1819 Genesis. On April 11, 1830 was founded special missionary organization. In 1847 there was opened committee for translations in the Kazan Theological Academy. In 1854 there were opened three missionary departments. On October 4, 1867 there was established St. Gury Orthodox Brotherhood to encourage missionary education in the diocese. In this period lived and worked a famous missionary and interpreter, Apostle of Kazan non-Russian N.I.Ilminsky. Thanks to his efforts there were founded the Central school for christened Tatars (1864) and Seminary for non-Russian natives (1872).

Besides the above-mentioned institutions, there were some others establishments of religious education: two-year missionary course (since 1889) attached to the Saviors Transfiguration Monastery, the Kazan (since 1818), Cheboksary (since 1818) and Chistopol (since 1829) ecclesiastical schools for men; female ecclesiastical school of Religion Department (since 1825) for priests daughters of the  Kazan, Vyatka and Perm diocese; diocesan female school with an orphanage (since 1889).

 ,   XX .In the second half of the 19th century there was revealed and developed in the Kazan diocese a system of missionary and enlightening work of Nikolai Ivanovich Ilminsky. He initiated the St. Gury Orthodox Brotherhood, which became center of translation of the Holy Scripture and spiritual literature into the local languages of the peoples of Russia. The Kazan Teachers Seminary and the Central school for christened Tatars formed basis of the national intellectual elite of a society and a priesthood of the Chuvash, baptized Tatars (Kryashen), Mari, Udmurt and Mordva. In the national parishes, the Divine Service began to be held on the native languages of the congregation. All this led up to a genuine Christianization of the peoples of the Volga region so as to overcoming of survivals of the paganism.

In 1909 in the Kazan diocese, there were 1546844 Orthodox believers, 18 cathedral churches, 636 parish churches, 37 home churches, and together with cloister temples, the number of churches reached 739. There were 336 chapels. As for clergy, there were 33 archpriests, 770 priests, 279 deacons, 770 psalm-readers; 609 parish guardianships, 7 parochial schools of two-year education and 470 ones of one year course, 225 schools of reading and writing; 27983 students received education at various church schools. There were five monasteries and two convents in Kazan. By 1917 in the Kazan diocese, there were 794 churches, 27 cloisters, 419 chapels, 1554 (married) priests, 202 nuns and 1601 monks. There were also 26 priests of old belief, who subjected to the patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church. From May 1917 to 1918 the Kazan Consistory was transformed at first to the Diocesan Council, and then to the Diocesan Administration (functioned till 1937).

 . ,    During the Soviet time the Kazan diocese so as the whole Russian Orthodox Church was to suffer a lot. By 1918 more than twenty priests have already been shot. Metropolitan Kyrill, the governor of the diocese of that time, could only twice in 1920 and 1921 visit Kazan; the rest of his life he spent in prisons and banishment right up to his martyred death. Almost all bishops (except Afanasy Malinin), who governed the Kazan diocese from 1918 to 1937, underwent martyrdom. In 1929 all cloisters were closed. In the same year the process of a total closing of churches has begun accompanied by repression towards clergy. In 1929-1931 and in 1937-1938 over 100 priests and monks were shot, over 700 ones were convicted to imprisonment in forced labor camps, many hundreds of parishioners, who protested against closing of chuches, became victims of repression. By 1939 in the Tatar republic there has been left only two functioning churches, situated in Kazan city and Menzelinsk town.

After 1938 the Kazan diocese was governed by Archbishop Andrei (Komarov). There was only one functioning church in Kazan that of the Wonderworkers of Yaroslavl, situated on the Arsky cemetery, which served as a Cathedral Church for 10 years. Since 1938 until nowadays, the diocese has been governing by only one hierarch without any vicar bishops. During the Great Patriotic War the believers of the diocese helped the Army denoting enormous sums of money for its needs. In 1947 under Archbishop Hermogen (Kozhin) the Church of St. Nicholas and the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos became a status of a Cathedral Church.

Since 1944 the rebirth of the church life has began. By 1948 on the territory of Tatarstan functioned about 40 parishes, so as the Diocesan Administration was restored too. Among the hierarchs, governed the Kazan diocese after World War II the most venerated by the believers was Archbishop Sergiy (Korolyov), former Bishop of Prague. He came back from emigration in 1950 and for two years (1950 - 1952) was on the Kazan cathedra.   ()However, in first half of 1960s the civil authority continued to persecute the Church. In 1960 Archbishop Iov (Kresovich) was convicted by far fetched accusation to 7 years of imprisonment. The quantity of parishes has been reduced to 15 in Tatarstan and to 8 in Mari republic.

Another respected hierarch of the post-war period became Archbishop Mikhail (Voskresensky) (1960 - 1975). He signed in 1961 together with six hierarchs the famous letter of Archbishop Hermogen (Golubev) with demand of reconsideration of the Regulations about Administration of Russian Orthodox Church (it had been adopted under pressure of the secular authorities) and realization of church reforms. In spite of the hardest years, Archbishop Mikhail did not permit closing any church in the diocese.

Since 1975 1989 Bishop Panteleimon (Mitryukovsky) governed the Kazan diocese. In his time were registered three parishes in large district centers. It became possible to realize restoration works of the functioning churches. By the end of 1988 in the diocese functioned 25 parishes (16 of them were on the territory of Tatar ASSR, and eleven parishes were functioning in Mari ASSR).  

Kazan Diocese of today

    ,     .In 1988 by decision of the Holy Synod to the Kazan cathedra was appointed rector of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, secretary of the Diocesan Administration Archimandrite Anastasy (Metkin). On December 11, 1988, he was consecrated bishop in the Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow.

In 1989, there were only two functioning churches in Kazan, when the Cathedral of St. Apostles Peter and Paul was returned to the diocese. After that, to the Kazan diocese were given back gradually other churches and monasteries. Thus, in 1991 the Raifa Monastery was given back, in 1994 St. Varvaras Church  and the Church of St. Sophia in Kazan, in 1996 the Makaryev Monastery (of St. Makarius Zheltovodsky), the Church of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God , the Pustyn Of Seven Lakes(the Monastery of the icon of the Mother of God Of Seven Lakes), the Sviyazhsk Dormition Monastery, the Church of St. Evdokia. Similar process of gradual returning of churches is noticeable in the whole republic.

Nowadays there are 280 priests and 59 deacons in the Kazan diocese. The Kazan diocese is dividing into 22 deaneries, in which there are 176 active parishes, 59 of them are situated in towns, 117 in villages, and 23 are attached to other churches. For the last years in the diocese were restored six monasteries and two convents.

During 2005 year in the Kazan diocese were opened 12 churches: the Church of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross in Kazan (the former Kazan Convent of the Mother of God), the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (Kazan, Mirny village), the Church of the Holy Trinity (Kazan, Otary village), the Church of the holy pious and faithful Prince Alexander Nevsky ( Zainsky district, village Alexandrovskaya sloboda), the Epiphany Church (Laishevsky district, Kaipy village), the Intercession Church (Spassky district, Kuznechikha village), the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (Pestrechinsky district, Lenino - Kukushkino village), the Church of the Holly Trinity ( Chistopolsky district, Maly Tolkish village), the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (Rybnaya Sloboda village), the Church of the Ascension of the Lord (Aksubaevsky district, Sunchaleevo village), the Church of the Nativity of Christ (Almetyevsky district, Yamashi village).

In 2005 Archbishop of Kazan and Tatarstan Anastasy ordained 25 deacons and 22 priests.

Actively are being recovered traditions of the theological education.

On September 1997 there was opened the Kazan Theological School, transformed to the Kazan Theological   Seminary educational institution of five-year theological course. The seminary trains clergy not only for he Kazan diocese, but also for neighboring regions Udmurtia, Mari El, Mordovia, Chuvashia, Bashkiria, Nizhniy Novgorod and Penza dioceses. The seminary periodically carries out the All Russia church-scientific conferences, and since April 2000 the edition of the church-scientific magazine The Orthodox Interlocutor is restored. Teachers of seminary activity participate in various scientific and publishing projects,  co-operate with the Church scientific Center The Orthodox encyclopedia, Russian Biblical Society (RBS), the Union of Biblical Societies (UBS), Institute for translation of the Bible (IBT), the Russian Academy of sciences (RAS), Institute of The Tatar encyclopedia etc.

In 1996 the branch of the Moscow Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute was opened in Naberezhnye Chelny.

At 47 parishes of the Kazan diocese were opened Sunday schools for children and adults. The total number of those who attend Sunday schools of the diocese is as following, children 1781, youth 240, adults 539 person. 169 teachers are engaged in this process. There are orthodox libraries in 37 parishes with the general book fund of more than 50 thousands copies. Nowadays, on the territory of the diocese are being published 17 printed editions (newspapers and magazines).

In the late 1990s, within the Kazan Diocesan Administration there were created different departments. Their activity was directed on the organization of the help to socially not protected layers of the population, on the spiritual enlightenment, on the work with youth and low enforcement departments:

Department for Social Ministry

Work of the department has many-sided and versatile character, embraces various layers of the population. Many parishes and monasteries of the Kazan diocese owing to activity of the department are involved in charitable acts (spiritual and economic) to the childrens homes, houses for aged, boarding schools for children invalids etc.

Department for Religious Education and Catechization

The department is engaged in spiritual enlighten work in the educational institutions, teaching of the religious doctrine in the higher and average educational institutions, the organization of the spiritual enlighten courses and attitudes with the higher Orthodox educational institutions and general educational schools.

Department for Youth Affairs

Creation of this department is caused by necessity of the registrations and more correct organization of the work with young people, which for a long time has been conducted in the Kazan diocese.

Under the guidance of department there were created some spiritually enlighten youth groups, so as the competence of department includes organization of summer holiday for children and youth.

Department for Relations with the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies

The task given to this department was to carry out pastoral care towards service men serving in military corps located on the territory of the Kazan diocese and towards persons who keeping in places of the imprisonment and in corrective labor establishments.

Department for Canonization of Saints

After creation of the department, there was begun work on the collection of information about priests, deacons and monks, who had been killed in 1930s. 102 persons have been identified, but the list is not full yet and will be continued. In this days are studied investigative cases about killed priesthood, it was decided to prepare materials for canonization.

A good tradition of the diocese became annual festivals of childrens and youth creative work Sreteniye (the Meeting) and Pasha (Eastern) festival of the ringing of church bells in the village of Alexeyevskoe, so as the charitable concerts The Gifts of Raifa on the Christmas-tide week.

Actively are being developed national (Kryashen of baptized Tatars, Chuvash) parishes of the Kazan diocese. Thus, the Kazan Church of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God (parish of Kryashens) headed by Archpriest Pavell Pavlov is engaged in publishing and also translation activities, realizing together with Russian Biblical Society translations of The Holy Scriptures into Kryashen language (Church Tatar language). Annually on the feast day of St. Joasaf Belgorodsky, especially esteemed by the Kazan Kryashchens, Archbishop Anastasy serves the Divine Liturgy in Kryashchen language. In 1999 was solemnly celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Kryashchen community.

Other most important events of the last years are as following:

  • The finding of relics of St. Ephraim, Metropolitan of Kazan, on September 26, 1995, who crowned in 1613 Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich Romanov;

  • The finding of relics of reverend fathers Iona (Jonah) and Nectary on October 11, 1995 (these relics are kept now in the Kazan Cathedral of St. Apostles Peter and Paul);

  • The celebrating of the 440th anniversary of the Kazan diocese on October 17-19, 1995 and carrying out for the first time in the post-revolutionary period of the historical theological conference with the participation of three bishops, professors of the Moscow and St. Petersburg Theological Academies, Moscow Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute;

  • The canonization of saints: new venerable monks and martyrs of Raifa (on April 6, 1997), Schema-Archimandrite Gavriil (Zyryanov), Elder of the Pustyn Of Seven Lakes (on June 30, 1997), Bishop Amvrosy (Gudko), abbot of the Sviyazhsk Dormition Monastery (on October 8, 1999);

  • Visit of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II (for the first time in the history of the Kazan diocese Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church came with the official visit to the Kazan land).

       .          (21.07.2004)  .        It is also necessary to note the procession around the church, which was made for the first time for the last 80 years on July 21, 2004. At that day was commemorated the appearance of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God and was celebrated the 450th anniversary of finding of the wonder working holy image. In the procession around the church participated more than 10 thousand persons. Sometimes to the Kazan diocese are delivered various holy objects known all over the Orthodox world. For example, in 2004 Kazan visited the wonder working holy image of the Theodorovskaya icon of the Mother of God from Kostroma and the Pochaev icon of the Mother of God (the Ternopol diocese). Twice within one year, orthodox citizens of Kazan and many believers from the neighboring dioceses had the opportunity to bow to the wonder working holy image of St. Seraphim of Sarov from the abode of Diveyevo. At the end of October the beginning of November in Kazan stayed relics of St. venerable nun and martyr Great Princess Yelizaveta (Elizabeth) and nun Varvara.

     -    In 2005 was celebrated the 450th anniversary of foundation of the Kazan cathedra. Anniversary actions devoted to this event were coincided with the day of commemoration of the appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (on July 21). Clergy and believers have gladly met His Holiness Alexy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. It was his second visit to the Kazan land. He gave the miracle-working copy of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God to the Kazan diocese. This holy image is kept now in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, where it had been appeared. (Act about the handing over of the venerable copy of the icon of the Mother of God to the Kazan diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church). Within the framework of the celebration of the anniversary were consecrated and opened the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kazan Kremlin and the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross (former Convent of the Mother of God), a church procession was made to the place, where the icon had been found.  It was also held the anniversary scientific and practical conference Orthodoxy in a multicultural society: the past and present day. 

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