Moscow, Council of
Moscow, Council Of
(Concilium Moscoviense). Several of these were held in the interests of the Russian Church from time to time, ever since the establishment of the metropolitan see of Moscow in l1320. (See below.) Of these councils, the most important are the following:
I. Held about 1500, and presided over by the metropolitan Simon, when it was decreed that monasteries for men and for women should be separated; monks were forbidden to perform divine service, and widower clerks to consecrate the holy mysteries in the latter; unworthy clerks were sentenced to be degraded; and all payments on account of ordination were forbidden.
II. Held in 1551, under czar John the Terrible. It was attended by all the Russian bishops and the metropolitan of Moscow; Macarius presided. The czar himself opened the synod by a speech, in which he exhorted the bishops to use all the understanding, knowledge, and ability each one possessed in their deliberations; promising that he would be ready to join and support them in correcting what was amiss, or in confirming what was well established, according as the Holy Spirit should direct them. He then put them in mind that in the year in which he was crowned he had charged all bishops and hegumens to collect the lives of the saints of their various dioceses or monasteries, and that twenty new names had been in consequence glorified as saints in the Church. The council then repeated and confirmed the decree, ordering that the memory of these saints should be celebrated in the Church. After this the czar required of the council a reply to various questions relating to the external and internal discipline of the Church; whereupon they delivered a long answer, divided into one hundred chapters, which caused this assembly to be known ever after by the name of "the Council of the Hundred Chapters." These chapters appear not to have been signed by any Russian bishop, nor to have been submitted to the oecumenical patriarch for approval; and it is curious that Macarius himself, who presided at the council, makes no mention of it in his Books
of the Genealogies, in which he relates the history of affairs both in Church and State. These chapters give countenance to some superstitious customs and local errors, which in after-years produced lamentable schisms. In this council, moreover, the correction of the Church books, which was afterwards actually performed by the patriarch Nikon, was first proposed.
III. Held in the palace of the czar at Moscow in 1655, by the czar Alexis; Nikon. the patriarch of Moscow, presiding. The object of the council was the correction of the liturgy, etc., of the Russian Church. Nikon, soon after his appointment to the patriarchate, had his attention drawn to the great alterations which had crept into the service-books then in use, which in many places, and even in the creed itself, differed from the ancient Greek and Slavonic copies; he therefore induced the czar to convoke this council, at which the following metropolitans, Macarius of Novgorod, Cornelius of Kazan, Jonah of Rostoff, Silvester of the Steppes, and Michael of Servia, were present, together with three archbishops and one bishop. The unanimous decision of the council was that "the new books should be corrected by the old Slavonic and Greek MSS., and that the primitive rule of the Church should in all things be adhered to." This decision was confirmed in a council of Greek bishops, convened at Constantinople by the patriarch Paisius, whose judgment the Russian bishops had requested. Upon this the czar and the patriarch procured an immense number of MSS. and books from Mount Athos, by means of which and other assistance the revision of the Russian service-books was completed.
IV. Held in 1677 to select a successor to Nikon, the patriarch, who, having by intrigues of his enemies fallen into disgrace with the czar Alexis, who had formerly been his great friend and patron, had in a moment of irritation abruptly renounced the patriarchate, and by this step had given rise to such disorders in the Church that Alexis, in order to re-establish peace, was obliged to invite the Eastern patriarchs to form a court for his trial, and if possible for his dismissal, in order to make legal the appointment of a new incumbent in the patriarchate. Besides the Eastern patriarchs, Macarius of Antioch and Paisius of Alexandria, there were present at this council four Russian metropolitans, viz. Pitirim of Novgorod, Laurentius of Kazan, Jonah of Rostoff, and Paul of the Steppes; six Greek metropolitans, viz. those of Nicsea. Amasia, Iconium, Trebizond,Varna, and Scio; the metropolitans of Georgia and Servia; six Russian and two other archbishops; and, lastly, five bishops, and fifty archimandrites, hegumens. and archpriests, besides monks and others. Before this council Nikon was solemnly cited to appear, "and thus it came to pass," says Stanley, "that the most august assembly of divines which Russia had ever witnessed met for the condemnation of the greatest man whom the Eastern hierarchy had produced in modern times." The trial was in the hall of Nikon's own palace. He appeared before the council like a person having made every preparation as for death, yet would he not brook treatment as a cast-out, and went in his character of patriarch, with his cross borne before him; and finding no place prepared for him upon a level with the seats of the Eastern patriarchs, he refused to sit at all, and during all his trial remained standing. His accusation was read, with tears, by Alexis himself; it was to the effect that he had, by his unlawful retirement and capricious conduct, been the cause of grievous evils and disorders in the Church. A week was spent in deliberating upon his case, and in searching for precedents which had occurred in the Church of Constantinople; after which Nikon was summoned before the council in its third session. Having heard his accusation read, sentence was passed upon him, to the effect that he should be degraded, retaining only the rank of a monk, and that he should pass the rest of his life in penance in a remote monastery. One voice only, that of an excellent bishop, Lazarus of Chernigoff, was raised in opposition to this cruel judgment. See Blackmore's Mouravieff. Hist. of the Russian Church, pages 92, 103, 204, 227; Stanley, Lect. on the East. Church, page 480 sq.; Strahl, Beitrage zur Russischen Kirchengesch. vol. 3 and 4; Landon, Dict. of Councils, s.v. SEE NIKON.