Prokopovitch, Teophan

Prokopovitch, Teophan a Russian prelate of great renown, especially as a pulpit orator, and therefore called the Chrysostom of the Russo-Greek Church, was born at Kief June 8, 1681. Baptized Eleazar, he exchanged it for Elisha, with the dress of St. Basil, in a United Greek monastery of that order in Lithuania. He was sent to Rome to finish his studies, and there had remained three years when he suddenly removed, by force of circumstances not known, and went to Potcherif, in Volhynia, where he renounced his faith, and was transferred, under the new name of father Samuel, to the chair of rhetoric in the Academy of Kief. When Peter I passed through the city, after the victory at Pultava, the duty of complimenting him was confided to Prokopovitch. He accompanied the czar in his unlucky campaign on the Pruth, and was made abbot of the monastery of Kief. In 1715 he was promoted to the seat of Pskopf, although he avowed that he had expressed heretical doctrines at the court and in his writings. The doctors of the Sorbonne, wishing to profit by the visit Peter I had paid to them in 1717, attempted to enter into friendly relations with the Russian Church. Appointed to reply to their address to the czar, Prokopovitch frustrated this attempt; and, yielding himself to all the views of the despot, he composed an ecclesiastical constitution which made of the Church a civil institution, and the clergy servants employed by the State — a condition which remains unaltered in the Russian Church to this day. He also, at the emperor's instigation, consented to the sequestration of the Church domains, and apportioned to the clergy a share of the income proportionate to their several ranks. He received from Catharine, whom he had crowned empress, the presidency of the synod and the archbishopric of Novgorod, founded by Theodosius. Prokopovitch crowned Peter II, whose right to the throne he had attacked in a work condemned by a ukase of July 26, 1727, by the then empress Anna, and encouraged the latter to commit in 1730 the stroke of policy from the effects of which Russia yet suffers the most deplorable consequences. He died at St. Petersburg Sept. 8, 1736. He left a great number of panegyrics and expositions of all sorts, some in impure Russian, some in Latin Oustrailif admits that the works of this prelate were specimens of the basest adulation. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v. See Tchistovitch, Theophane Prokopovitch et Theophilacte Lopatinski (St. Petersb. 1861); Otto, Russ. Lilt. s.v.; Meth. Quar. Rev. July, 1873, p. 499.

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