« Aloys Lutolf Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz Luxemburg »

Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz

Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz


Diocese located in Little Russia. Its present territory extends over the Governments (provinces) of Volhynia, Kieff, and Podolia. Originally it formed three separate dioceses, but there were eventually united, through successful Russian pressure upon the Holy See, intended to promote governmental authority over the Catholic Church in Russia. The see is theoretically governed by the diocesan bishop, who resides at Zhitomir, assisted by three auxiliary bishops, for the cities of Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kieff; but at present two are vacant.

Originally this portion of Russia was entirely of the Greek Rite, but with the conquest of Volhynia and Podolia by the Lithuanians in 1320, and the later conquest and union of Lithuania by the Poles in 1569, the Latin Rite became well established, and accordingly Latin bishoprics were founded. Lutzk, in the western part of Volhynia, is perhaps the oldest one; it is said to have been founded in 1358, but the see was then placed further west at Vladimir. In 1428 Bishop Andrew Plawka transferred the see to Lutzk, then one of the principal cities of Volhynia. This occasioned some confusion in 1439 at the Council of Florence, when the Bishop of Lutzk (Luck in Polish) was directed to give up the name Lucensis and to write his diocese Luceoriensis, to distinguish him from the Bishop of Lugo. Six provincial synods have been held in this diocese: in 1607, 1621, 1641, 1684, 1720, and 1726; and in the eighteenth century it had 183 churches. The city of Lutzk itself goes back to the time of Vladimir the Great in 1000. It was made the see of an Orthodox bishop in 1288, and it was Cyril Terletzki, Exarch and Bishop of Lutzk, who affixed the first signature to the act of union at the Synod of Brest on 24 June, 1590, and who went to Rome to make his profession of union. In 1350 Lutzk was taken by the Lithuanians, and became a flourishing city. It was afterwards annexed to Poland, and in 1600 the Jews took possession of the city and have ever since held it. At present it has 19,000 inhabitants, of whom 12,000 are Jews. Volhynia was annexed to Russia in 1792, at the Second Partition of Poland, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lutzk was suppressed. It remained however a Greek Catholic diocese until 1839. Under Emperor Paul I in 1798 the Diocese of Lutzk was restored, and embraces the whole of the Province of Volhynia, although Zhitomir, the capital city, lies at the eastern border, near the Province of Kieff. The see has been kept vacant for long intervals during the past century. The statistics of the Diocese of Lutzk (1909) are: Catholics, 279,157 (Orthodox, 2,106,960); secular priests, 84; regulars, 6; parish churches, 81.

Zhitomir is situated on the River Teterev, about ten miles from the frontier of the Government of Kieff. It is said to have been founded by Zhitomir, one of the followers of Rurik. In the thirteenth century it was taken by the Tatars and was afterwards subject to Lithuania and Poland. It was annexed to Russia in 1778. The city now has a population of 65,000. The Diocese of Zhitomir is really that of Kieff. When Kieff and Zhitomir were annexed to Russia, the Catholic diocese was suppressed, and the Bishop of Kieff was expelled, but in 1798 when Pius VI, in the Bull "Maximis undique pressi", re-established the Diocese of Kieff, it was transferred by the request of the Russian authorities to Zhitomir, and then later united to Lutzk, in order that no Latin bishop should dispute the See of Kieff with the Orthodox bishop. Theoretically, an auxiliary bishop may reside at Kieff, but none has been allowed for many decades. The diocesan bishop of the united sees resides at Zhitomir. The present (1909) statistics for the Diocese of Zhitomir, which includes a slight strip of Volhynia and the whole of the Government of Kieff, are: Catholics, 220,893 (Orthodox, 2,988,694), with one regular and 105 secular clergy, 70 parish churches, and one seminary. The Latin Bishopric of Kieff is first mentioned in 1321, just after the Lithuanians conquered this part of Little Russia, when Pope John XXII made Heinrich von Provalle, A Dominican, its first bishop. The next bishop was Jacob, also a Dominican. Naturally the earlier Latin bishops of Kieff were travelling missionary bishops, establishing churches and ecclesiastical institutions of the Latin Rite throughout the land. Clement (d. 1473) is said to have been the first Latin bishop to fix his see permanently within the city of Kieff, where he built a cathedral. In the previous century the Dominicans had built a fine monastery in the lower portion of Kieff called Podol, which was for a long time the finest Roman church in that part of Russia. Bishop Alexander Sokolowsky (1613-1645) had great success in establishing Latin churches, and in 1640 established a deanery at Tchernigoff. In 1626 Bishop John Osga commenced to build an additional cathedral in Zhitomir, which was consecrated by his successor Gaetan Soltyk in 1751, and it is the present cathedral. Two provincial synods were held in this diocese: one in 1640 at Kieff, and the other in 1762 in Zhitomir.

The city of Kieff, "the mother of all the cities of Russia", is really the cradle of Christianity in the Russian Empire. It is said to have been founded by Kii and his brothers Shchek and Khoriv, who were Poliani, the forefathers of the modern Poles; and was taken in conquest by the followers of Rurik in their search for a southern kingdom. Oleg, the successor of Rurik, came to Kieff in 882 and made it his capital. St. Olga was here converted to Christianity, although she was baptized in Constantinople. Later, her successor St. Vladimir, on his conversion to Christianity, married Anna, the sister of the Greek emperors, Basil and Constantine, and on his return from Constantinople in 988 actively set about the conversion of the inhabitants of Kieff, who threw their heathen idols, Perun and the others, in the Dnieper and were baptized as Christians, thus founding the first Christian community within the present confines of Russia. Kieff became under him and his successors the great capital of Russia; it possessed the first Christian church, the first Christian school, and the first library in Russia. It passed through great vicissitudes; for three hundred and seventy-six years it was an independent Russian city, for eighty years it was subject to the Tatars and Mongols, for two hundred and forty-nine years it belonged to the Lithuanian Principality, and for ninety-eight years it was a part of the Kingdom of Poland. It was finally annexed to the present Russian Empire in 1667. Under the Lithuanian rule it rose to great prosperity, and obtained the Magdeburg rights of a free city in 1499, which it enjoyed until they were abolished in 1835. Naturally Kieff became the see of the first Christian bishop in Russia. Michael, who baptized Vladimir, was sent as the chief missionary to the Russians, and became the first Metropolitan of Kieff (988-992). His successors, Leontius, John I, and Theopempt, were also Greeks, but in 1051 Hilarion, the first Russian bishop, was advanced to the dignity of metropolitan, with seven bishops under him. In 1240 the Tatars took the city of Kieff, pillaged it, and established Moslem rule in one of the great shrines of Christendom. The taking of Kieff by the Tatars drove the Russians northwards and eastwards; in 1316 the Metropolitan of Kieff changed his see to Moscow, and thereafter the Church of Russia was ruled from that city. In 1414, after the change of the metropolitan see to Moscow, the seven Russian bishops of the south chose a new Metropolitan of Kieff, who ruled over these southern dioceses. Thus the Russian Church was divided into two great jurisdictions: Moscow and Kieff. Kieff, being of the Greek Rite, was naturally dependent upon Constantinople, the Church of its origin, and gradually followed it into schism. Yet for a long time after the break between Rome and Constantinople it remained in unity with the Holy See. The first four metropolitans of Kieff were Catholics and in union with Rome. Hilarion embraced schismatic views strongly tinctured with nationalism, but his successor George was in correspondence with Pope Gregory VII, while Ephraem (1090-1096) was the Metropolitan of Kieff who established in Russia the feast of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas (9 May) which was instituted by Pope Urban II, but which was indignantly rejected by the Greeks of Constantinople and the East. During the following century the metropolitans of Kieff followed the schism more closely, yet three or four of them remained in close relation with the Holy See. Maximus (1283-1305) was a Catholic metropolitan, Cyprian (1389-1406) also had close relations with the Roman authorities, while Gregory I (1416-1419) was strongly inclined towards union with Rome. From 1438 to 1442 the Council of Florence was held for the reunion of Christendom. Isidore, Metropolitan of Kieff (1437-1448), with five other Russian bishops, attended the council, signed the act of union, and became one of its greatest advocates. Gregory II (1458-1472), his successor, was consecrated in Rome in the presence of Pope Pius II, and was also an earnest supporter of the union. Misael (1474-1477) and Simeon (1477-1488) were also Catholics. Joseph II (1498-1517) likewise adhered to the union, and was nicknamed "the Latin" by the Moscow Orthodox Greeks. Then followed several metropolitans who renounced the union and adhered to the schism, until the time of Michael Ragosa (1588- 1599), who took a definite stand for union with Rome, and who signed the act of union of 2 December, 1594, addressed to the Holy See. It was consummated the following year, and the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church thus constituted has ever since been in union with Rome. Then follows a line of Catholic metropolitans of Kieff of the Greek Rite: Hypatius (1600-1613), Joseph IV (1614-1637), and Raphael (1637-1641). Then came the great champion of Russian Orthodoxy, the Metropolitan Peter Mogila, who fought the union and turned the Russians away from the Holy See, and who strove to undo the entire work of the united Churches. His task was finally accomplished within the confines of Russia by his successors after the annexation of Kieff in 1667 to the Russian Empire by means of the successive forced "reunions" of the Greek Catholics to the Russian Orthodox Church (see RUSSIA). The city of Kieff (250,000 inhabitants) is beautifully situated upon the River Dnieper, and is divided naturally and historically into three parts: Petchersk, or the city of the grotto-caves; Podol, or the plain, which is now the commercial part; and Staro-Kieff, or old Kieff, upon the heights overlooking the river. The early monks who brought Christianity to Kieff were hermits dwelling in the caves on the hill-sides. Subsequently these were enlarged and others were made, like the catacombs at Rome. The great Petchersky monastery is situated above one of the series of caves, while the church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross stands above the entrance to the grottoes of St. Anthony, which are a series of catacombs dating back to 1100, when the monk Anthony came from Mount Athos to Kieff. In these catacombs the remains of the monks are enshrined, and there are numerous altars on which Mass according to the Greek Rite is said every day. The grottoes of St. Theodosius are somewhat similar. On a hill fronting the Dnieper is a huge bronze statue of St. Vladimir, who brought Christianity to his subjects at Kieff. The cathedral of St. Sophia, built in 1037 by Jaroslav, is a building remarkable for its mosaics and ancient frescoes in the Byzantine style, some of which date back to the eleventh century. As a counterfoil to this there is the cathedral of St. Vladimir, built at the end of the nineteenth century, containing a magnificent interior richly decorated in the modern Russo-Greek style by the best Russian artists. There are two Roman Catholic churches and one Greek Catholic church in Kieff.

Kamenetz, usually called Kamenetz-Podolski to distinguish it from Kamenetz-Litevsk, is the capital of the Government of Podolia and lies in a beautiful situation upon the River Smotrich near the extreme western border of the Russian Empire, only a few miles from the Austrian frontier. It goes back to the thirteenth century. It grew to considerable importance under the Polish conquest. The Turks held it for twenty-seven years, but the Poles recaptured it in 1699. It was annexed to Russia at the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. Kamenetz is mentioned together with Kieff as a Latin bishopric in 1373. The first Bishop of Kamenetz was William, a Dominican (1375), and the second was Roskosius (1398). Alexander, Bishop of Kamenetz (1411), and his successor Zbigniew (1413) promoted the idea of union with the Greeks. Dominicans and Franciscans comprised the principal Latin clergy of the time, and in the following century the Jesuits were also introduced. When the Latin hierarchy was re-established in Russia by Pius VI in December, 1798, Kamenetz was made a separate diocese, comprising the whole of Podolia. In that same year it was also created an Orthodox see by the Russian Government, under the title of Podolia and Bratslav. In 1815 it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lutzk and Zhitomir, and on 3 June, 1866, it was entirely abolished as a separate diocese, and annexed directly to Lutzk and Zhitomir. The city of Kamenetz itself has about 45,000 inhabitants, of whom one-fifth are Catholics. The statistics for the annexed diocese of Kamenetz (1909) are: Catholics, 317,235 (Orthodox, 2,359,630); secular priests, 111, regulars, 3; parish churches, 96. In the whole of the three united dioceses the religious orders have been killed off by the simple process of not allowing any new candidates to enter, while the secular priesthood thrives with extreme difficulty because only natives and Russian subjects are permitted to enter the seminary or to take charge of parishes. Catholic schools and charitable institutions are practically non-existent, owing to the restrictions of the Russian authorities.

ROHRBACHER, Histoire Universelle de l'Eglise (Lyons, 1872), XI, XII; PELESZ, Geschichte der Union, I (Vienna, 1878); TOLSTOI, Romanism in Russia (London, 1874), very anti-Catholic; Pravoslavniya Encyclopedia, X (St. Petersburg, 1909); LESCOEUR, L'Eglise Catholique et le Gouvernement Russe (Paris, 1903); URBAN, Statyska katolicyzmu w panstwie rosyiskim (Krakow, 1906); BATTANDIER, Annuaire Pontificale (Paris, 1910).


« Aloys Lutolf Lutzk, Zhitomir, and Kamenetz Luxemburg »
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