Izmail Old Believers Diocese: Problem of Seek for Own Bishop (1906-1919)
Izmail Old Believers Diocese is one of the oldest Old Believers dioceses. Its foundation dates back to 1857 when the territory of Bessarabia was a part of Principality of Moldavia. The diocese was quite unusual because due to its geopolitical position it was a part of different states. Because of that fact, there were problems with its subordination, since in 1881 Bila Tserkva Metropolitanate and Moscow Archdiocese signed an agreement on the division of parishes and dioceses according to which those located in Russia were subordinated to the Moscow Archbishop, and foreign – to the Metropolitan of Bila Tserkva. Of course, no one wanted to let someone else have their dioceses and parishes.
The first two bishops of Izmail were called archbishops, the third – Anastasii was a bishop. In 1906, after the death of bishop Anastasii, the diocese was taken over by Archbishop John of Moscow.
The attempts of Old Believers of the widowed Izmail Diocese to restore the functioning of an independent cathedra headed by its own bishop during 1906-1919 are analyzed in the paper on the basis of documents collected in the Russian State Archives of Ancient Acts, most of which are being put into scientific circulation for the first time. Almost every year they sent a request to the Local Council of Old Believers Bishops to appoint their own bishop, even offered candidacies of well-known Old Believers figures Arsenii Uralskyi, Inokentii Nyzhegorodskyi, Oleksii Bohatenkov, Mykhailo Semenov, etc. In their opinion, those authoritative persons could enlighten the region, establish an economic part in abandoned communities, but all attempts were in vain. Usually, they received the answer that the Council was looking for a candidate.
In 1907, Izmail cathedra was given for the temporary governing of the former non-Encyclical Petro Bessarabskyi. They tried to explain such a decision by the affairs of peace and close unity of the former non-Encyclicals with Encyclicals. However, the diocese could not accept Petro’s governing. When he took the vows of scheme in 1910, Izmail Diocese was again given to the former non-Encyclical Bishop Kyrylo of Odesa and Balta. If from the beginning of his governing the representatives of Izmail Diocese still asked the Local Council to appoint their own bishop, then from 1914 they had already reconciled with Bishop Kyrylo, besides the political situation (World War I, the Revolution) did not help to resolve the issue.
The revival of the independent Izmail Diocese took place only after the transition of Bessarabia to Romania in 1918. On October 27, 1919, Bishop Feohen was appointed to Izmail Old Believers cathedra by Metropolitan Macarii of Bila Tserkva.
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