Independence of the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate And Russian-Palestinian Ecclesiastical Relations, 1800 – 1872.
The history of the Orthodox Church in the first half of the nineteenth century was a continuation of its history in the earlier Ottoman eras. During this period, three enthroned patriarchs were elected in Constantinople. For the first time, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Kyrillos II, was elected in Jerusalem in 1845. In this period, the Russian presence in Palestine became apparent from the pilgrims, the Consulate and the Russian Mission. Patriarch Kyrillos showed sympathy with the Bulgarian Church, which demanded independence from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, prompting the Holy Synod to depose him. The Russians supported the Bulgarian cause and the attitude of Kyrillos. The most prominent Russian figure in this period was Archimandrite Profiri Uspenski.
1-The Patriarchs Anthimos, Policarpos and Athanasios V:
Anthimos was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1788. He was an Arab from Antioch. It was said that he was from Mosul. He commanded the Arabic, Persian, Greek and Turkish languages. He was an author, and wrote a commentary on the Psalms. At the end of his reign, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was burned, and he died in 1808.
Patriarch Policarpos succeeded Anthimos in 1808. He was the Metropolitan of Bethlehem. “He was elected by the consensus of all the senior clergy of the Constantinople See, who met in Constantinople in accordance with the recommendation of Patriarch Anthimos, who appointed him before his death.” Patriarch Policarpos secured a Firman from the Ottoman authorities for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 1809, and died in 1827.
Athanasios V was elected patriarch in 1827 in “Paki Koi, one of the suburbs of Istanbul on the coast of the Bosphorus at a meeting attended by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the see bishops, and the Orthodox millet notables. At that time the Jerusalem See was heavily indebted despite its great revenues.” The debts of the Patriarchate totaled 30 million piasters despite its great revenues from its awqaf property in the Orthodox world and the presents made by the pilgrims to the holy shrines. A committee was formed in Istanbul to regulate the revenues of the Patriarchate and to pay its debts. The patriarch showed goodwill by cooperating with the committee. As for its powers and duties, they were restricted to the following:
- Supervision of the books of accounts of the Patriarchate and securing the committee’s approval for the lease of the remote property of the Patriarchate.
- Delivering all the revenues to the committee’s fund.
- Appointing the treasurer and the Patriarch shall appoint his assistant.
- To intervene in the appointment to ecclesiastical offices in the Patriarchate.
- To intervene in watching and examining the accounts of envoys sent on official missions outside the Patriarchate to collect aid or raise funds.
- A special commission shall be appointed to watch the works of the committee.
- Some or all of the members of the committee may be changed with the approval of the Jerusalem and Constantinople Patriarchs.
However, the committee did not succeed in the total liquidation of the debts. But, it managed to reduce these debts at the end of the reign of Athanasios V. Nonetheless, this made the Jerusalem See succumb to the influence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:
“It was the men of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher of the Jerusalem See, who caused this sharp decline and acquiescence of the Jerusalem See. In earlier phases, it was the see, for which patriarchs had sacrificed their lives until they made it one of the most important sees of the patriarchates in terms of its prestige and resources. The Jerusalem See has now fallen to the abyss because of its men. It has become like a child who needs guardians, educators and advisors. Thus the clergy on top of whom was Patriarch Athanasios, accepted to have their hands cuffed and their mouths shut and to be under the command and control of the Constantinople See.”
Qazaqya points out that during the reign of the three patriarchs, the Orthodox community was dismembered and many of its followers joined the Latins and the Protestants. He gives several reasons for this phenomenon, and then he asks:
“Where are the schools which they built to eliminate ignorance which was the strongest factor for making others dominate minds and ideas and draw the people closer to them? Have they investigated the needs of the people and consequently, built hospitals, homes and other facilities…? What about their interest in schools and genuine spiritual education…? There are reasons other than negligence, which were working for the dismemberment of the Orthodox community and the alteration of its faithful to other Christian denominations. Among these reasons was the fact that the patriarchs and bishops supported one party against the other on the questions of the differences among individuals and families. They sided with the party that was supporting them and which was disseminating their ideas, even if it was not the party that was right. They issued rulings and made judgments in accordance with their whims and interests, even if this led to the loss of the other party and departure from their community. We have an abundance of evidence and cases showing how hundreds of Orthodox faithful renounced their community and joined other Churches.”
Athanasios V died in 1844. The Constantinople See dominated the Jerusalem See through the intervention of the Ecumenical Patriarch in its financial and administrative affairs. Meanwhile, the Protestants became vigorous and organized, and established an Anglican bishopric in 1842. The Russian influence was also enhanced and continued to increase since the time of the establishment of the Russian Mission in 1847. Prior to the establishment of the Russian Mission, Russian-Palestinian ecclesiastical relations were growing progressively.
2- The Russian interests in Palestine and Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Places.
The Ottoman Sultanate and Russia are two neighborly states with common borders. From the strategic standpoint, Turkey controls the straits, which are the only outlet for Russia to the warm waters of the Mediterranean. From the political perspective, there are many Slav peoples and Orthodox Christians living under the rule of the Ottoman Sultanate. From the religious point of view, the Ottoman Sultanate is the strongest Muslim state existing in the heart of the old Byzantine world and is ruling the Holy Places in Palestine. Russian policy toward Orthodoxy and Palestine was influenced by these three factors. The Moscow Patriarchate, which was formed in 1589, viewed itself as the legitimate inheritor of Constantinople, which fell to the Ottomans in 1453, and the center of Orthodoxy, as Rome was the center of Catholicism. The anticipated Russian role toward Christianity in general and Orthodoxy in particular is discussed in the letters, which a Russian monk Philotheus, wrote to Grand Duke John Basil III (1462-1505): “The first Rome collapsed owing to its heresies, the second Rome fell a victim to the Turks, but a new and third Rome had sprung up in the North, illuminating the whole universe like a sun… With prophetic conviction Philotheus pointed out that, the first and second Rome have fallen, but the third will stand till the end of history, for it is the last Rome. Moscow had no successor; a fourth Rome is inconceivable.” The Slavs considered the Russian Tsar as the head of the Russian Church, although the spiritual leadership remained vested in Constantinople. Nonetheless, Moscow sought to improve its situation and extend its influence to the Orthodox patriarchates.
Russia’s interests until the end of the seventeenth century were restricted to religious matters among the Christians of the Ottoman Empire. However, in the early eighteenth century, the tsars sought to play a political role in their capacity as the protectors of Orthodoxy and the supporters of Ottoman Christians. “All these could come, perhaps, through the Russian Christ. This idea reached its highest expression during the second half of the nineteenth century, when political and economic necessities forced Russia’s close attention to the Black Sea and the Straits.”
The Church in Russia is an effective instrument for the enforcement of the Russian policy in the East. The tsars viewed the Church as an extension of the government bureaucracy. The Russian Church was the Church of the State. Therefore, we should take a look at its history in order to understand its role in Russian politics and its relationship with the Jerusalem Patriarchate.
Peter the Great (1672-1725) abolished the patriarchal system for all practical purposes and appointed himself as head of the Church, which he placed under the control of the Holy Synod that was presided by the Over Procurator, who is a government figure appointed by the Tsar.
Alexander I (1801-1825) created the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education and merged the Holy Synod with it. In 1824, he revoked this system and renewed the post of Over Procurator, who became a minister of state and one of the members of the ministers’ cabinet, and the Holy Synod became his ministry. The Holy Synod consisted of the churchmen who were loyal to the Tsar. Churches became platforms from which the State declared its policy and offered its projects and plans to the people. The Over Procurator became the link between the State and the Church represented by its patriarch.
The relations that existed between the Russian and Palestinian Church in the nineteenth century were in fact relations between the Russian Tsarist establishment and the Jerusalem Church through the Russian Church. “This tactic was especially true in the Near East. When Russia reduced her political influence in the Ottoman Empire, not, of course, suspending it completely, she tried to supplement it through religious channels by using the Russian Orthodox Church and the latter’s relations with the Orthodox Churches of the Near East. Signs of this policy were evident everywhere in the Balkans, but the policy thrived primarily in the four Eastern patriarchates, particularly through Jerusalem which had been the traditional avenue of the Russian Tsars to the Orthodox East.” In view of the nature of the Russian Church and its relationship with the State, “Russian ecclesiastical policy in the nineteenth century formed part of the general diplomacy of Saint Petersburg, which sought to advance Russian political interests in the Near East.”
We should certainly take into account the nature of the relationships that existed between Russian Tsarism and the Ottoman Empire, and also the nature of the relationships between tsarism and the Greek figures that governed the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The Greek influence and domination in Jerusalem have complicated these relationships and made them very sensitive and very delicately balanced.
Perhaps the series of wars and treaties concluded between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, particularly the 1699 Treaty of Carlowitz and the 1774 Treaty of Kutchuk Kainardji have placed Tsarist Russia in a distinguished position as the protector of Orthodoxy in the Ottoman Empire. As for the Adrianople Treaty of 1829, it consecrated the independence of Greece, consolidated the Russian influence and Russia’s claim of the protection of Orthodoxy. The series of these treaties made the Ottoman Empire look like a sick man. Russia abandoned its old dream of regaining Constantinople and liberating the Holy Places and was content with the reality of the weak Empire, which was in line with its political aspirations. These aspirations reached their climax when Russia supported Mohammad Ali in his mutiny against the Ottoman Empire so as to aggravate its weakness and attrition. Russia and other Great Powers manipulated the Mohammad Ali mutiny and challenge to the Sultanate in the best possible manner. “Ibrahim Pasha –son of Mohammad Ali- opened Syria to the West, to its missionaries, consuls and trade. A new period had begun and Russia together with the other European Powers was anxious to take full advantage of it.”
Palestine constituted the focus of the Russian interests in Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria) because of the memories of the Old and New Testaments that are cherished by the Russian people. It should be recalled that ever since the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Turks, the Russian people made generous aid to “alleviate the afflictions of the stricken Christians of the East.” The Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Places is an old practice that dates back to the eleventh century. Pilgrims offered gifts and grants generously to the churches and the Holy Places. The Antioch and Jerusalem Churches continued to ask for aid. “These requests were seldom refused, as financial aid was at that time the only expression which Russia could make of the sympathy she felt toward the Syrian and Palestinian Orthodox Christians.” However, spending the grants and aid was not always subject to the control of the benefactors; “No interest was taken in the maintenance of Orthodoxy among the Arabs and no attempts were made to supervise the use of the Russian alms.”
Papadopoulos says that the Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Places was rare before the nineteenth century. In 1811, Russian pilgrims began to appear in Palestine at an average of three or more pilgrims each year until 1819, which was the year in which 100 pilgrims came to Palestine. The Russians knew early enough that their pilgrims did not find those who could protect them or care for them in Jerusalem and that they were at the mercy of the Turks and the Greeks. Therefore, Papadopoulos links the movement of the Russian pilgrimage to Palestine early in the 19th century with the opening of the Russian Consulate in 1819. The first Russian Consul in Palestine was George Mostra, who was followed by Dimitrios Daskoff. The Russian Consul took residence at the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem; later on he was compelled to leave his residence following accusations by the Ottomans that the Greek monks were colluding with the Russian Consul. So Ottoman soldiers stormed the residence in search for arms.
It should be recalled that a number of Russian figures and noblemen visited Palestine from 1830 on. These visitors submitted reports to the concerned authorities urging the officials to improve the status of the Russian pilgrims in Palestine as their number was increasing. The most important report submitted was one by Count Andre Moravev, who visited Palestine in 1838. Moravev presented Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) as a present a copy of the episode of his pilgrimage to Palestine in two volumes. So the Tsar appointed him Over Procurator of the Holy Synod. Thus, in his new job, he sponsored the Russian interests in Palestine. Among the proposed projects of Moravev was that the Tsar should raise the level of the protection of Orthodoxy and the Holy Places in Palestine and that a Russian Mission or agency be opened in Jerusalem to care for the pilgrims. He expected that this Mission would be the nucleus of the Russian religious and political presence in Palestine and that it would be linked with the Russian Mission in Istanbul. The Foreign Ministry welcomed the ideas of Moravev. However, no immediate measures were taken to enforce his proposals.
The Russian Consulate in Jerusalem was opened in 1819 for the care of pilgrims. A second consulate was opened in Jaffa in 1820. The two consulates were placed under the jurisdiction of the Russian Consulate in Alexandria, and in 1839, they were placed under the jurisdiction of Beirut.
1839 was the year of transformation of the Russian policy toward the East in general and Palestine in particular. Russia exercised its traditional role until the crisis of the Eastern Question erupted in 1839. The Russian role was about the protection of the Holy Places, caring for the Russian pilgrims, and offering diplomatic support to the Jerusalem Patriarchate on issues that might arise with the Franciscan Fathers of the Custody over rights and ownership of the Holy Places. Financial aid was presented for the restoration and maintenance of the Holy Places. However, relations between the Greek clergy and the Russian Imperial Court did not suffer any damage or deterioration. The joint interest dictated to them to cooperate genuinely and truthfully as long as French diplomacy did not try to tamper with the legitimate rights of the Patriarchate in the main sites of the Holy Land. However, the traditional calm Russian attitude was changed following the Protestant move and the growth of the Catholic influence in Palestine. This influence became the theme of the reports of the pilgrims, visitors and diplomats. The Moravev memorandum says in this regard: “The influence of the Latin missionaries was not as strong as is the case in our present days. There is an archbishop with the name of Maximos (Mazlum), whom the Pope sent to Mount Lebanon and Syria and bestowed on him the title of Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. He is clad, together with his aides, in the clothes of the Orthodox clergy in order to influence the ignorant masses. He is spending money lavishly to convert Orthodox faithful of his denomination.”
The Russian Consul in Beirut, Constantine Vasili, submitted three reports to the Russian ambassador in Istanbul dated 23 June 1841. The first report dealt with the needs of the Orthodox clergy in Jerusalem. The second consisted of a study of the conditions of the monasteries, such as the Saint Savvas Monastery (Mar Saba), Saint Elijah Monastery, and the Monastery of the Cross (Al-Musallabah). The third focused on the steps that should be taken to secure peace in Jerusalem. The three reports discuss the conditions of the clergy and the people of the Orthodox Church, the Protestant and Catholic propaganda, the dangers posed to Orthodoxy, and Russia’s inability to intervene to protect the Orthodox Church. Vasili’s reports are to be credited for the implementation of the Russian projects in Palestine. “At this point, Vasili left it up to the Russian ambassador in Istanbul and to the Russian imperial circles to support Orthodoxy and to work for the establishment of a Russian ecclesiastical center in Jerusalem.”
Vasili was promoted to the rank of Consul General in 1843. In his new post, he was eager to attend the religious ceremonies and feasts in Jerusalem as an assertion of Russia’s role in the Holy Places and among the followers of Orthodoxy in the East. The Russian Consul had proposed the allocation of the Monastery of the Cross for the use of the Russian pilgrims. However, Patriarch Athanasios refused. The Russians offered once again to buy the Monastery of Saint Abraham and the Monastery of Saint Theodoros. However, the patriarch rejected once again the Russian offer, because of a possible danger of the purchase to the influence of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. Finally, the patriarch displayed his readiness to restore the Saint Theodoros Monastery for the use of Russian women pilgrims and the Saint Abraham Monastery for the use of men and to pay the cost from the private budget of the Patriarchate. “The idea was accepted and an agreement containing 68 articles was enacted to this effect. The agreement was approved by the Russian government and a patriarchal legate was appointed supervisor of these two monasteries.” The Tsar approved the agreement on 24 April 1841.
The negotiations held by the monasteries for the Russian pilgrims in Palestine were viewed as a diplomatic failure in Russia. Thus Russia sought to make a new step in Palestine, particularly because the Greek element was weak in encountering Western propaganda and because the interest of Orthodoxy dictated assistance to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. The daring Russian step was the dispatch of Archimandrite Profiri Uspenski on a fact-finding mission to Palestine.
3-Archimandrite Profiri Uspenski:
Preparations were made for the mission of Profiri Uspenski to Palestine by the circles of the Russian Holy Synod, the Foreign Ministry and the Imperial Palace. The Over Procurator of the Holy Synod Count Nikolai Prostasov submitted a report in mid- 1841 to the Tsar proposing that “ an archimandrite and two or three monks should be sent to Jerusalem to establish in the Greek monastery of the Cross a school to teach Russian and Greek, and to supervise the use of the Russian alms and to care for Russian pilgrims.” The Tsar referred the report to the Foreign Minister, Count Carl Nesselrode demanding him to submit a comprehensive memorandum on the Jerusalem Church. So the minister submitted the memorandum on 13 June 1842 discussing the status of the Orthodox Church under Ottoman rule, Catholic and Protestant proselytism through the Orthodox community, the material and moral defects of the Orthodox clergy and their inability to forestall such proselytism. The memorandum noted that the current circumstances, particularly after the appointment of an Anglican bishop in Jerusalem in 1842, dictated quick action and that the person qualified to undertake the fact-finding mission and to determine what was going on in the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher could be a churchman and did not have to be a State diplomat. He proposed that the person appointed to this mission be a Russian archimandrite who would travel to Jerusalem like a pilgrim. In Jerusalem, he would gain the confidence of the Arab clergy and give his instructions on the best ways for assisting the Church. Nonetheless, the Russian archimandrite should cooperate with the Greek authorities and avoid involvement in a conflict with these authorities. Finally, he hinted that the Jerusalem patriarchs should reside in Jerusalem, not in Istanbul, for the purpose of caring for the faithful under their jurisdiction. The Tsar approved the contents of the memorandum on 3 July 1842 and ordered the Holy Synod to nominate a suitable person for this Mission. Thus the Holy Synod chose Archimandrite Profiri Uspenski, and the Tsar approved his appointment in November 1842.
Profiri Uspenski was born in 1804. After his primary education he attended St Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy from 1825-1829. He took monastic vows in 1829 and was given the spiritual name of Profiri, and was appointed to teach in Odessa. He was created archimandrite in 1834. In 1840, he was sent to Vienna as pastor of the consulate church, and was summoned from Vienna to hold his new post. His nomination for his new post was received with sharp criticism by his contemporaries. He was a churchman and a theologian, not a diplomat. “The choice of Profiri was a strange one, as his initial inexperience led him into rash actions and intolerant judgment. He was incurably verbose and bordered on eccentricity.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Carl Nesselrode drafted a memorandum in four points and submitted it to the Tsar. The memorandum said:
1- “A Russian clergyman should be sent to Jerusalem to closely investigate the conditions of the Orthodox Church.
2- The Jerusalem clergy must understand that the Russian Church is very concerned about its sister Church in Jerusalem.
3- The contact with the Jerusalem clerics should be beneficial to them from the moral and ethical standpoints.
4- The Russian cleric in Jerusalem could serve as the link between the Holy Synod in Russia and the Jerusalem clergy. In order to view the situation in advance and in order to forestall any misunderstanding, another cleric should be sent first to Jerusalem secretly as a simple visitor, in order to examine the situation and advise on the way that should be followed. However, the dispatch of the Russian cleric should be beneficial to the Russian Church. In other words, if this cleric was appointed there, he should be in a position to execute his task with experience and knowledge. The term of his stay shall be examined. In such a case, the Russian cleric should depend on the advice and experience of the Russian Consul in Jerusalem, because he is well versed in politics and Palestinian situation and its adaptability to religious matters.”
In October 1842, Profiri arrived in St. Petersburg and stayed eight months there. His appointment and the nature of his mission, which the Foreign Ministry expected to be kept as a secret, became well known. Following are the instructions, which the Foreign Ministry issued to him:
1- “You should act as a simple visitor and leave no room for others to suspect you.
2- Do not give any reason to others to suspect that you are a secret envoy dispatched by the government.
3- Work hard for winning the confidence of the eastern clergy and attracting them to you. Investigate slowly the real needs of the Orthodox Church in Palestine and learn the ideas of the Latin, Protestant and Armenian missions and their endeavors, together with the methods by which they spread their thought. What are the reasons for their success or non-success, and how do they encounter difficulties in reaching their goals?
4- We ask you in the name of God to avoid every action that may cause problems for us. Let your main concerns be restricted to the gathering of the right information about the conditions of the Palestinian Orthodox Church and understanding the means that should be followed to strengthen this Church and make it prosperous.
5- At your return from Palestine and arrival in Istanbul, write down your impressions about your experience and conclusions from the accurate tests and research you have made and submit it to our ambassador in Istanbul, who will send it to us, together with his personal remarks and views on it. We want to advise you not to take lightly the question of submitting your report to the ambassador, because he is a shrewd and knowledgeable man on the political and religious matters of the East. If there are controversial questions, then you should discuss them with the ambassador. Therefore, learn from his far-sightedness and measure your notions according to his ideas on the things you write. Nonetheless, we do not force you to do so.”
It seems from the Foreign Ministry instructions that the mission of Profiri was restricted to the collection of information and cooperation with the Russian ambassador in Istanbul so that he could complete his mission. Within this context also was the recommendation of Senyavin, director of the Asian Department at the Foreign Ministry, May 1843, which said: “Perform faithfully the duties of a pilgrim. Do not surround yourself with any mystery but do not on any account reveal that you have been sent by the government. Try to gain the trust and love of the eastern clergy…and try to discover their real demands, and the aims, successes and spirit of the Catholics, Armenians and Protestants. Do not commit yourself in any way. Your main task is to collect information.”
Archimandrite Profiri Uspenski, the clergyman and theologian, was given a really tough assignment. The mission was very sensitive and delicate. It demanded the shrewdness of diplomats and their long experience. Achievement of dual assignments and goals are the functions of a diplomatic, not a Church person. Profiri had pleaded to be sent to Palestine openly on behalf of the Church, but his pleas were rejected. Profiri complained about the nature of his dual-purpose mission and he could not and was not willing to conceal the truth about himself. Moreover, the nature of his real mission was no longer concealed from Greeks and Arabs when he arrived in Jerusalem. The report of Bertram and Young described him as a “Russian ecclesiastic of peculiar propensities.” And that the long-term goal of the Russian activity in Palestine was “the establishment of the Russian predominance in the ecclesiastical world of the Near East and the displacement of Greek predominance in the Orthodox patriarchates. Greek historian Papadopoulos has revealed the real nature of the Profiri mission because he was fully aware of the Foreign Ministry instructions to him and the goals and results, which the mission reached.
Profiri left St. Petersburg in the summer of 1843. He arrived in Istanbul on 22 September 1843. In October he arrived in Beirut, and from there he rushed forward to visit the Syrian and Palestinian cities and villages. He contacted the priests and inspected their conditions. He arrived in Jerusalem on 20 December 1843 and came face to face with the ongoing conflict between the Arab parishioners and the Greek clergy and the bad conditions of Orthodoxy. “He gradually forgot the conflicting instructions that he had been given; he was in any case unfitted for the delicate game which the government had intended him to play. He was in no sense a diplomat and the less he tried to be one the more trusted he was by both Arabs and Greeks. His official role was soon known in Jerusalem and he openly received Arab complaints with the promise to forward them officially to St. Petersburg.” The Greeks publicly accused him of inciting the Arabs against them, enticing them that he would overthrow the ecclesiastical administration and grab ecclesiastical power from the Greeks. He was no longer concealing his sympathy with the Arabs or his involvement in defending them. Therefore, the Greek clergy vowed not to allow him to get acquainted with the important matters of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher or to give him answers to his questions. This attitude displeased him, and very much angered him, and aroused his hatred for the Greek clergy, whom he described as religion-mongers. Perhaps his conversation with Lod Bishop Kyrillos, who was enthroned as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1845, was an example of Arab relations with the Greeks.
Profiri arrived in Istanbul in August 1844 after spending nearly nine months in Palestine. He submitted two reports to the Russian Ambassador Titov on 28 October 1844 and 5 January 1845. The most important things in the two reports were the following:
- The Church of Jerusalem is in a dangerous position internally.
- The patriarch resides in Istanbul away from Jerusalem, which was both unnecessary and uncanonical. Consequently the Arabs had long since ceased to regard him as their head.
- The Greek clergy is not educated and their positions in churches were bought and sold.
- Worldly habits have infiltrated the monastic life of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, celibacy was not practiced.
- Arab clergy is unlettered and unpaid, and depend on their own living on the charity of the people, because the Patriarchate does not pay them regular salaries and relations between the Arabs and Greeks are unfriendly.
- The conditions of the churches are miserable, although Russia sends enormous funds to Jerusalem. However, the money disappears with no trace of how it was spent.
- Catholic and Anglican proselytism constitutes an impending danger to Orthodoxy.
Following his negative criticism of the conditions of the Jerusalem Church, Profiri submits his constructive proposals, which can be summed up in the following:
“A Russian bishop should be sent to Jerusalem. He must be articulate and experienced so as to watch the attitude and behavior of the clergy and closely examine the over-all conditions of the Church. This could be followed by establishing a school to raise the children of the national Orthodox community, based on the spirit of the truthful religion and on piety. The school must be under the management of the bishop. The Russian clergy should be forced to learn Arabic, which is the national language of the Arab community. Religious and other books should be translated from Russian into Arabic and distributed in Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Various types of charitable institutions must be established as well as a Jerusalem-based Russian Mission. The Mission should be expanded to Syria and Egypt and its work must be independent. The Russian Consul in Jerusalem should have nothing to do with it. Its contacts will be with the Russian Holy Synod, and consequently, only its religious goals should be felt.”
Profiri stayed in Istanbul awaiting permission to travel to Egypt. He was busy writing his report to the Russian embassy and submitting his proposal aimed at establishing the Russian Mission. However, in the meantime, namely, on 16 December 1844, Patriarch Athanasios V died, and Profiri had a word to say about the election of his successor and on the way he should be elected before returning to Russia, he then rescheduled his trip to Egypt.
4- Patriarch Kyrillos II (1845-1872):
Russian Foreign Minister Carl Nesselrode hinted in his previous reports at the need to elect the patriarchs in Jerusalem, not in Istanbul. Profiri was an enthusiast of the theory of Nesselrode. Therefore, he wrote the following in his diary: “ The patriarchs of Jerusalem have lost their right to name their successors before their death. The loss of this right will produce parties in the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. In every election there will be a division, machinations and corruption. And every house divided against itself shall be destroyed.” Arab, Greek, Russian and other historians have confirmed the role of the Russians in the election of the patriarch. “This Russian intervention at Constantinople had angered the Ecumenical Patriarch, for it would limit his traditional influence over the Jerusalem Patriarchate.”
The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher nominated Ierotheos, Bishop of Mount Tabor, to succeed Athanasios. “However, Kyrillos II was appointed patriarch on 16 March 1845 with the backing of the Russian embassy. The Constantinople See had nothing to do with this appointment. Patriarch Kyrillos broke the familiar habit of the Jerusalem patriarchs of spending most of their time in Constantinople and not going to the center of their Patriarchate in Jerusalem, except in critical circumstances. He stayed permanently in Jerusalem.” Hopwood asserts that Patriarch Kyrillos “was the first patriarch to return to Jerusalem and to act independently of Constantinople.” Another historian, Anton Issa, affirms that the presence of the patriarchs in Jerusalem became an essential matter following the establishment of the Anglican bishopric and the growth of the Latin influence. The conflict between the Orthodox and the Latins had settled the issue as it prompted the patriarchs to return to Jerusalem. “These and other conditions, e.g. the conflict over the Holy Places, dictated that the center of the Patriarchate be transferred to Jerusalem, which the Orthodox patriarchs forsook for about two and half centuries and resided in Constantinople. In Constantinople, the patriarchs could be close to the monasteries and the vast property they owned in Walachia, Boghdan, Bessarabia, Georgia, Anatolia, Macedonia and Turkey. These were most prosperous in the era of Patriarch Kyrillos and brought him huge amounts of money, i.e. some 3 million golden piasters. With this abundance of money at his disposal, he could have advanced his people to the highest levels, had he wanted to. Nonetheless, he opened several elementary schools.” However, the author of the book ‘Lamha tarikhia fi akhawiat alqabr almoqadas alyounania’ (A Historic Summary of the Greek Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher) has a special interpretation for the transfer of the see of the Patriarchate to Jerusalem. He says: “He transferred his patriarchal seat from Constantinople to Jerusalem, not out of a desire to care for the matters pertaining to his community, but because he wanted to get rid of the Phanar clergy.” This development, namely, the transfer of the patriarchs to Jerusalem and their election there was viewed as the declaration of the independence of the Jerusalem Church and its liberation from the traditional attachment to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher did not welcome the developments that led the patriarchs to reside in Jerusalem due to the Russian endeavors. “Members of the Brotherhood were not pleased with Profiri Uspenski’s initiative, and hated him. He was the effective medium for the election of Patriarch Kyrillos.” Greek historian Papadopoulos agreed with some of the evaluation which Qazaqya made of the patriarch and hinted that his nomination was made under difficult circumstances in Jerusalem and that although the patriarch wanted to re-organize the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, he was famous for his absolute one-man rule.[53
Kyrillos was known as the “unswerving supporter” of Uspenski and “less fanatically Panhellenist than his colleagues and was the most impressive of the nineteenth century patriarchs.” He patronized culture and knowledge, built a seminary and opened a printing press in the Monastery of the Cross. He also opened elementary schools for the Orthodox children in the various parts of the Patriarchate. Moreover, he built a hospital attached to the Patriarchate. The patriarch brought with him in 1847 to Jerusalem a doctor, called Rafalovich, who resided in the Patriarchate. He opened a pharmacy, distributed medicines and treated the sick free of charge. The 40-bed hospital was inaugurated on 15 March 1871 near the Jaffa Gate. The hospital treated Arabs, Greeks and some Russians, usually less than 30 beds were occupied. The demand for the hospital was good, i.e. in 1894, some 25,000 patients visited the hospital of which 556 cases were admitted for in-patient hospitalization. Among its famous doctors were Mazaraky and Spiridon. But the most important achievements of Kyrillos was that he opened the Monastery of the Cross school.
5- The Theological School of the Monastery of the Cross. (Al-Musallabah):
Patriarch Athanasios raised the idea of establishing an Orthodox theological school in 1843. However, he died in 1844. The project was temporarily shelved until Kyrillos was elected patriarch. The new patriarch summoned Dionisios Kleopas, a Greek monk, known as an authority in university circles in Leipzig and Berlin. Dionisios says the following: “Patriarch Kyrillos discussed with me the question of the Protestant and Latin influence in the Holy Places and the need to confront the Western trends, noting that the theological school will be tantamount to the guiding light of Orthodoxy.” Preparations for establishing the school began in 1851. The patriarch gave Dionisios books, manuscripts, the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the classical books and appointed him director of the school.
Teaching at the school began on 4 October 1855 under the administration of Dionisios Kleopas. The school consisted of four grades. The fifth grade was added in 1860. The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher resisted Kleopas and opposed his projects. Hence the patriarch gave him every possible assistance and supported his stance toward the Brotherhood. However, he was finally compelled to resign and to return to Athens on 7 August 1856. He was appointed professor at Athens University. After him, several other directors took over the management of the school.
The patriarch was the supreme head of the school in which elite professors and learned men lectured. A three-member Board of Trustees appointed by the patriarch ran the school. The duty of the Board was to ensure the smooth progress of teaching, discipline, updating of curriculum, selection of professors and auditing the budget. At the end of the year, the Board of Trustees would submit a detailed report on the school to the patriarch. The staff of the school consisted of the principal, teachers, administrative and library personnel, secretary and a number of servants. Strangers were not allowed to enter into the school without the permission of the principal. Control and care of the students were kept at a maximum. A medical doctor examined the students periodically and treated them. Foodstuffs and kitchen utensils were checked. Checking and control could be done weekly, if the situation so warranted.
A candidate for admission to the school should be of Orthodox origin. He must have a good attitude and character, enjoy good health and be 17 to 22 years of age. He should have a good knowledge of the catechism, Greek, arithmetic, geography, Church history and Arabic. The sponsor or guardian of the enrolled student is required to pay 70 Turkish liras to be deposited in the safe of the Patriarchate and returned to the sponsor after the student’s graduation. The Patriarchate collects the interest of the invested capital. Study at the school is free of charge. The school accepts Orthodox students only: “The number of students at the school should not be more than 70 and primarily consist of the sons of the local Orthodox followers of the Holy Jerusalem See, and secondly of Greek boys who are sponsored by the monks of the Holy Sepulcher, and finally of the sons of the Orthodox followers in the various Orthodox dioceses of the world, with whom the patriarch is pleased.” However, the Arab and Greek students are not equal at the school as far as the years of learning and number of students: “The school at the Convent of the Cross was established in 1845, chiefly for the Ionian students, euphemistically called nephews of the monks, who alone are allowed to take the theological course, the natives being confined to the preparatory studies.”
The school year begins on 1 September with a religious ceremony in which the principal or one of teachers makes a speech. The school curriculum changes according to the school semesters. However, generally speaking, lectures are given from 8.00 AM until noon and from 1.30 PM until 3.00 or 4.00 PM. The time of the session is one full hour. The school sponsors a varied system of examinations, such as the daily and quarterly, and oral and written. The criteria for passing or failing are very strict. The curriculum includes the following subjects: Greek, Latin, Arab, French and Russian languages, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, physics, chemistry, natural history, mineral science, astronomy, the New and Old Testaments, ancient, medieval and modern history, psychology, logic, metaphysics, the history of philosophy, general law, canon law, homiletics, music and liturgy. Science and Holy Scriptures are taught together starting from the fourth year. Thus students can integrate civil and religious culture.
It should be said that the school was frequently closed down during its history. It was closed for the first time in 1876 and was reopened in 1881 until 1888, when it was closed down once again “for the accumulation of the debts of the Patriarchate.” The school was reopened in 1893 and closed down in 1909. In 1893, it issued a theological magazine. Between 1893-1909, there were six or seven classes. Some of its students in that period completed their higher studies at the University of Athens.
6- The First Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (1847-1854):
In Istanbul, Profiri achieved his most cherished hopes by securing the election of Kyrillos as Patriarch of Jerusalem. He had in fact, built a Russian Orthodox bridgehead of Eastern patriarchates. He returned home carrying a Russian victory which he had achieved at the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the mother of all Churches. He arrived in St. Petersburg in October 1845. On his way back, he visited Egypt, Mount Athos and Romania. He expected that ecclesiastical and civil officials would welcome and congratulate him for his efforts in serving his country in the East. On the contrary, he was received with sharp criticism. He submitted a memorandum on the Russian Mission intended to be established in Jerusalem. However, it was never received by the Holy Synod but by the Foreign Ministry. “From then on, the future of the establishment of an ecclesiastical mission in Jerusalem rested with Russian diplomacy.”
On 11 February 1847, Tsar Nicholas I approved the instructions on the formation of a Russian Mission. The Holy Synod nominated on 31 July 1847 Profiri for the new post in Jerusalem, despite the criticism made against him and the reservations made concerning his attitude toward the Arabs and Greeks in Palestine. The Holy Synod Over Procurator Nikolai Prostasov, as head of the Russian Church said that Profiri “recognized all observations of Ambassador Titov as just, and that establishment of a mission should not deviate from the wishes of the Russian Consul in Beirut.” Nonetheless, the Holy Synod selected him for the mission. Profiri had undoubtedly enjoyed the support of his good friend, Foreign Minister Carl Nesselrode. “It is incomprehensible how after their first experience with Profiri the authorities then proceeded to elect him head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission. They must have based their decision on his erudition and experience with the East, in which respect Profiri could match the Latin Valerga and the Protestants Alexander and Gobat who championed their respective faiths in Jerusalem.”
The instructions of the Holy Synod were issued to Profiri. They were merely a repetition of the earlier instructions. He is the head of the Russian Pilgrimage Mission, but he is not supposed to intervene in matters related to the pilgrims, as this is the purview of the local authorities in Jerusalem. He was entrusted with the duty of performing prayers for the pilgrims in their own language. He was also to cooperate with the local and Greek clergy to produce a gradual awakening of the Greek clergy who care for the Orthodox Christians in the East. The Mission did not have any official government nature. The Metropolitan of St. Petersburg gave Profiri Uspenski a letter of recommendation to the Jerusalem Patriarch Kyrillos and appropriated for him 10,000 rubles per year. He started his second journey to Jerusalem on 14 October 1847. He arrived there on 18 February 1848, accompanied by two Russian monks, just a month after the arrival of Latin Patriarch Valerga in Jerusalem on 17 January 1848.
The official mission of Profiri was to represent the Russian Holy Synod in Jerusalem and to perform prayers for the pilgrims. However, “no one believed that the duty of the Mission was restricted to the ecclesiastical and educational aspects.” The Russian archimandrite was of the same rank as the Greek Patriarch residing in Jerusalem, and the Greeks treated him accordingly. The Arabs viewed him as the representative of the Russian Church and government, although his government had not bestowed that status on him. Therefore, his relationship with the Greek clergy was “correct but unfriendly.” In this respect, Qazaqya describes their attitude toward him by saying: “The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher was very indignant at Profiri Uspenski. They grew more hateful of him every day.” As for the patriarch who reached the Jerusalem throne because of the Russian support, he developed a warm friendship with Profiri Uspenski and cooperated with him in many aspects, particularly in the educational field.
Profiri started his educational mission for the people and the local national clergy. “Despite Greek pretexts, evidence points out that the Greeks had neglected the education of the Arab Orthodox population and clergy. Profiri felt spiritual sympathy for the Arab section of the population, and it depressed him to see their treatment by the Greeks. He was concerned with education of the Arab youth. He espoused the Arab cause with fanaticism, and from funds of the Mission he supported Arab clergy and was instrumental in naming priests for several desolate Arab pastorates. Much to the dismay of the Greeks he sought to inspire an ethnic consciousness in the Arab Orthodox which would ultimately separate them from the Greeks.” Profiri encouraged the patriarch to open elementary schools in the villages and the rural areas to resist Protestant and Catholic proselytism. He gave all the possible material aid to the local laity and the priests, so he paid the salaries of teachers in the elementary schools. His efforts to open the Theological Seminary of the Monastery of the Cross cannot be ignored. The patriarch appointed him chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1853. To supply the schools with publications, he coordinated with the patriarch to inaugurate an Arab printing press. “Profiri Uspenski, sought to find an experienced man for the printing and publishing of the books. On 26 October 1852, he brought Lazarides to Jerusalem for this purpose. On 14 February 1854, religious books translated into Arabic were published, the epistles and the catechism books, were distributed to the Orthodox faithful in all parts of Palestine.” Profiri Uspenski, however, failed to build a hospital and to open a library in Jerusalem because in the last years, he did not receive enough financial support from Russia and became a burden on the Patriarchate. There were several reasons for the weakening of his position and the failure of his mission. We can sum up these reasons as follows:
1- The conflict in St. Petersburg between the Holy Synod and the Foreign Ministry on the nature of the Russian Mission harmed Profiri. “The conflict between secular and ecclesiastical interests in St. Petersburg led to confusion over the aims of the Mission. Neither Synod nor Foreign Ministry accepted complete responsibility. Eventually neither accepted any responsibility at all and Profiri was abandoned.”
2- The nature of the Greek-Arab-Russian relationships: Russia’s general policy was to support the Jerusalem Patriarchate through its Greek leaders. Meanwhile, there was another trend, which called for the liberation of the Orthodox Slav and Arab peoples from Greek ecclesiastical domination. Profiri fell in the middle of these two currents in Jerusalem, and could not please them simultaneously.
3- The return of the Jerusalem Patriarch to Jerusalem was one of Profiri’s great victories and a climax of his aspirations. However, it seems that the return of the patriarch to Jerusalem was due to the increased Catholic and Protestant influence and not to satisfy the desire of the Russians. “Profiri bitterly summed up his work, it seems the Mission was sent to Jerusalem only to preside over the obsequies of Orthodoxy.”
4- In the view of Stavrou, the greatest achievement of the Russian Mission in the era of Profiri was the participation in forming the Orthodox awareness of the Arabs, who upheld the basic demand of liberation from the Greek domination. Therefore, Profiri viewed himself as the pioneer of the spiritual Orthodox awakening in the East in the framework of the Greek-Russian conflict, which surfaced in the second half of the nineteenth century in the context of the struggle ‘Panslavism vs. Panhellenism’ with the entire Orthodox East as its battlefield. The Bulgarian Church independence in 1872 was part of this encounter and clash of interests. Thus Profiri laid down the foundations of the Russian policy on the East. The second Russian Mission (1857) and the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (1857) proceeded according to this line, for which he had laid the foundation.
Profiri ended the work of the Russian Mission in Jerusalem after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War (1854-1856) at the hands of the Ottoman, English and French armies. Thus the Ottomans ordered him to leave the country. So he resorted to the Austrian Consul, who gave him shelter and some money. He left the country on 8 May 1854. “His departure from the Holy City was witnessed by a group of grateful mothers whose children had entered the schools he had organized…however, by his very presence he introduced a faint ray of light into the obscurantist society of the Greek hierarchy and brought some hope into the lives of the Orthodox Arabs.” Qazaqya mourns Orthodoxy after the departure of Profiri by saying: “Finally, it was the destiny of Orthodoxy to be deprived of the honest means and works, which created comfort and happiness through Russia in the person of Uspenski.” After his return, he was appointed as head of a monastery, and was promoted to the rank of bishop. Profiri died in 1885.
7- The Second Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (1857-1894):
Russia was defeated in the Crimean war by the Ottoman, English and French armies. The Paris Conference (1856) was held to settle the consequences of the war. The defeat of Russia caused the Russian influence in the Ottoman Sultanate to retreat and to shake Russia’s traditional role in the protection of Orthodoxy. Profiri left Jerusalem under tragic conditions and under the protection of the Austrian Consul. “It was only natural that Russia would devise new methods of diplomacy to maintain her influence in the Ottoman Empire in accord with her traditional aspiration southward through the Black Sea.” Meanwhile, it was no longer necessary for Russia to follow twisted methods in its relationships with the Orthodox Churches that were under the Ottoman rule. The Hatti Sharif Humayun was issued in 1856 declaring equality among the subjects of the Sultanate. Under this new system, Russia could directly interfere to protect the Orthodox subjects without having to disguise itself behind the Greek ecclesiastical authorities that ruled the Eastern Patriarchates.
The two planners of the Russian policy after the Crimean War were Foreign Minister Prince Alexander Gorchakov (1856-1882) and the brother of the Tsar, Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich. These two politicians believed that strengthening the declining Russian influence could be done by renewing the Russian Mission to Palestine and building a commercial fleet in the Black Sea serving Russia at times of peace by transporting pilgrims and trade. In the state of war, the fleet would be used to transport soldiers and military hardware. Therefore, Constantine Nikolaevich established the Russian Steam Navigation Company in 1856.
Tsar Alexander II signed the documents establishing the second Russian Mission on 2 March 1857. “He requested a license for this Mission from the Ottoman Sultanate and he was given the license.” The Mission was launched as a government-sponsored establishment. Therefore, Gorchakov did not nominate Profiri to head this Mission, all the more so because he had become Persona non grata by the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. Instead, he nominated Naumov, who was expected to be a “docile instrument of the Foreign Ministry.” Therefore, the second Russian Mission was “purely political in origin and purpose.” The Foreign Minister and Duke Constantine linked the Steam Navigation Company with the Mission by establishing the Palestine Committee, as a department of the Steam Company, to secure the transport of pilgrims by the ships of the Steam Company to Palestine. Therefore, the destiny, activity and management of the second Mission were linked with the plans of the Russian infiltration into the Sultanate. In fact, the Mission was born under ambiguous and unclear circumstances. On the one hand, Russia wanted in principle to strengthen its influence in Palestine through the Mission. However, there was a difference about the method of how to do this. The Holy Synod expected that the Mission would be under its direct supervision, while the Foreign Ministry did not approve this for the Synod and expected to supervise the Mission itself. Meanwhile, Constantine drew attention to the Palestine Committee at the Steam Company to perform the role of the Synod and the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Minister was not enthusiastic about the proposal of Constantine. Therefore, “the second Russian Mission to Jerusalem was born amidst a confusion of purposes and loyalty.” Here the same mistake made by the Russian officials when the first Russian Mission was formed, was repeated once again, namely, failure to designate a specific department supervising the Mission, and this weakened its effectiveness during the eras of its three leaders in Jerusalem.
A- The Russian Mission in the era of Kyrillos Naumov (1857-1863):
Father Naumov was an inspector at St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy. After a brilliant career he had been appointed as a professor. He was known for his intelligence and vast knowledge, but was inexperienced in politics and international relations. Naumov was ordained bishop when he was appointed as head of the Mission on 11 June 1857. Prior to his departure, he was given these instructions: “To maintain cordial relations with the Jerusalem Greek clergy and to respect the patriarch and his vicar. To maintain the same relations with the heads of other denominations, especially with the Armenian Patriarchate. To care especially for the national clergy, the Orthodox people and to educate and raise them on the most straightforward principle so as to maintain the survival of Orthodoxy, which has nearly reached the point of perishing in Palestine.” It seems that the second Mission bypassed the Greek authorities and worked with the Arabs directly, contrary to the first Mission which complied with a certain degree of coordination with the Patriarchate. Stavrou views this as “a violation of the canonical law,” vis-à-vis the jurisdictions of local bishops. This development of the Russian policy toward the Eastern patriarchates is confirmed by a report issued later by the Foreign Minister for the Tsar:
“We must establish our presence in the East not politically but through the Church. Neither the Turks nor the Europeans, who have their patriarchs and bishops in the Holy City, can refuse us this. While our influence was still strong we could afford to conceal our activities and thus avoid envy, but now that our influence in the East was weakened we, on the contrary, must try to display ourselves so that we do not sink in the estimation of the Orthodox population who still believe in us as of old. Our Mission in its previous form could hope to achieve nothing. The Ministry finds it necessary to place a bishop at the head of the Jerusalem Mission instead of an archimandrite. This, in the opinion of the Ministry, would produce a strongly favorable impression not only in Jerusalem but also in Constantinople where they have seen neither a Russian bishop nor the splendid ritual of our services. A service taken by a bishop together with Slavs and Arabs would be most impressive for Greeks and Arabs. Jerusalem is the center of the world and our Mission must be there.”
An amount of 11,000 Rubles was allocated for the Mission per year. The Mission consisted of 12 members. Three members were experts on Jewish, Turkish and Greek affairs. The Mission left St. Petersburg in October 1857. “Greek amour propre had been outraged by the appointment of the bishop and there could, it seemed, be no reconciliation. Early in 1848 the first Russian bishop to the Arab World set foot in Palestine.” Naumov was accorded an official welcome in Jaffa. An honor guard, the Russian General Consul in Beirut, Armenian and Greek monks, and Russian pilgrims accompanied him. In Ramla, a Turkish officer welcomed him with a group of horsemen. The people of Jerusalem went out to the walls of the city to watch his arrival. He entered the Holy City as a triumphant commander. The bishop took the house built by Profiri Uspenski for his own residence, namely, the Monastery of Saint Michael, the Archangel.
The Russians were anxious that the appointment of a Russian bishop in Jerusalem without a proper community might be interpreted as a political position. Despite this very sensitive consideration for the Ottomans and the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Tsar insisted on appointing a bishop in Jerusalem, provided that the scope of his mission be not restricted to Jerusalem, but should extend to Antioch and Alexandria.
So far, French and English companies transported Russian pilgrims to Palestine, and this made Russia lose its prestige and it hurt its influence in the East. Grand Duke Constantine sent one of his men, Mansurov, to Palestine in 1857 to write a report for him on the pilgrimage to the Holy Places. The report said that Syria and Palestine were an arena of struggle for the Europeans, and Russia was absent from this arena. Therefore, pilgrimage to Palestine should be activated to resist the Western religious activity and to obstruct the conversion of Orthodox to Catholicism and Protestantism. The report also said that one person should combine the functions of the consul and the agent of the Russian Steam Navigation Company. However, Naumov was not enthusiastic for the ideas of Mansurov. Nevertheless, Grand Duke Constantine insisted that these ideas should be adopted and transferred Mansurov’s report to the competent authorities. This led to the formation of the Palestine Committee in March 1858. Thus the Holy City had within its walls a mission, a consulate, a representative of the Russian Steam Navigation Company and the Palestine Committee. The last three posts were vested in the Consul himself. The Russians crowned their presence in Jerusalem by an official visit, which Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich paid to the Holy City. “He took with him his wife Alexandra and his son Nicholas. They were guarded by a group of Russian soldiers. Tents were erected in his honor in Ras El Maydan to the northeast of Mamilla, outside the Jerusalem wall. There were no buildings outside the walls of the city in that time.” The Grand Duke then bought a piece of land in the afore-mentioned Ras El Maydan area, known later on as al-Maskobia (the Muscovite). He bought other pieces of land in and around Jerusalem, and the Palestine Committee began to build a huge building that included a cathedral, the house of the Mission, a hospital and two hostels for the pilgrims.
Naumov made significant achievements in the field of serving the pilgrims and the local Orthodox. However, differences gradually emerged among the Greeks, Arabs and Russians because of the conflict of interests and leanings over the activities of the Patriarchate. Greek monks accused Naumov of seeking to “usurp their rights.” The differences between Naumov on the one hand, and the Consul, the Steam Navigation Company and the Palestinian Committee, on the other, became aggravated. The Russian Consul represented the last three parties in Jerusalem. The bishop became the target of a campaign of slander that involved his private life.
Nonetheless, the mediation of Patriarch Kyrillos precluded the immediate dismissal of Naumov. Thus he was summoned to Russia in 1863 and dismissed from his job and appointed as head of a local monastery there. He died in 1866. The tangible result of the second Russian Mission in the era of Naumov was that the conflict became very clear between the trend of Russian expansion in the East and the trend of the retreat of the Greek influence in the Orthodox patriarchates under Russian pressure.
B- The Russian Mission in the era of Leonid Kavelin (1863-1865):
After the ouster of Naumov, the Asian Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry insisted on amending the system of the Mission so as to be headed by an archimandrite while the Russian Consul would undertake the responsibility of care for the pilgrims. Therefore, Father Leonid Kavelin was appointed head of the Mission. He had earlier worked with Uspenski and Naumov. He held his position in the spring of 1863 by forging an alliance with the Arabs and opposing the Greeks. He clashed with the Consul, and this “experience had finally shown that co-operation between diplomats and clergy in Jerusalem was virtually unattainable, which meant that a mission in the form visualized by Gorchakov was no longer possible.” As for the Mission’s relations with the Patriarchate, they were not any better that its relations with the Consulate. “Consequently, this did not help keep good relations with the patriarchal see. Leonid Kavelin manifested a bad attitude toward Jerusalem Patriarch Kyrillos, who reported the problem to the Russian government, which ousted Kavelin on 13 April 1865 and appointed in his place Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin. However, the Holy Synod refused the dismissal of the first and the appointment of the second, because according to the complaint made by Patriarch Kyrillos to the Russian government, the patriarch degraded Kavelin by reporting the complaint to the Russian government, and not to him, in violation of his duties. The Synod decreed that it would not approve Kavelin’s removal unless Patriarch Kyrillos apologized for his mistake and made the necessary reconciliation. The patriarch accepted this fair demand and offered the necessary reconciliation. He also in 1867 apologized to the Holy Synod in Russia. Thus the Holy Synod agreed and endorsed the appointment of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin, who traveled to Jerusalem and took over the administration of the Mission.”
In 1864, the Tsar dissolved the Palestine Committee and established the Palestinian Commission, which was a body affiliated with the Foreign Ministry supervised by the trustee of the Over Procurator of the Holy Synod, the head of the Asian Department at the Foreign Ministry, and Mansurov. The Palestinian Commission continued the work of the Palestinian Committee. Thus the Maskobia complex was built in Jerusalem and the cathedral was inaugurated in 1872.
C- The Russian Mission in the era of Antonin Kapustin (1865-1894):
Antonin Kapustin was appointed at the recommendation of Count Ignatev, the Russian ambassador in Istanbul. Antonin studied at the Russian universities and gained perfect command of Greek and German. Previously he worked for 15 years in the diplomatic sevice in Athens and Istanbul. “At last, the Mission had a leader possessing the qualities and the experience needed for the job.” The Consul in Jerusalem continued to be hostile to the Mission. He viewed its church as a consular church. However, Antonin enjoyed the protection of his loyal friend Ignatev as long the later held the office of ambassador in Istanbul.
Antonin paid attention to the Russian pilgrims, who were increasing in number every year. He also encouraged the Russian monastic orders to come to Palestine. He gave land and the necessary money to the pilgrims who wished to spend the rest of their lives in the Holy Land. He also supervised several archeological excavations in the Mount of Olives and Hebron. These excavations contributed to uncovering the history of the Holy Land. After Ignatev was transferred from Istanbul, Antonin found in the Tsarista his best financier and supporter of his projects. “By 1872 he had bought thirteen sites in Palestine when the Russian Government, concerned by foreign reaction to these purchases, called a halt...Although after 1872 he could no longer buy, he could still continue to build.” In Hebron he bought the oak tree site known as ‘Mamre’ in 1868. In 1866, he bought a land in Beit Jala on which he built a school for girls. It was the first Russian school in Palestine in the real sense of the word. He appointed a Russian principal for the school. In 1880, there were 60 women students in the school, and in 1886, it was promoted into a teachers’ training school and was placed under the supervision of the Palestinian Orthodox Imperial Society. He built a church, a hostel for the pilgrims, a school and a monastery for the Russian nuns in Ain Karem. The church he built in Jaffa was inaugurated in 1894, just before his death. Russian buildings in Palestine were unique for their high bell tower structures.
Antonin was the contemporary of five patriarchs in Jerusalem. Relations between Russia and the Greek authorities in Jerusalem deteriorated during the Bulgarian crisis, which led to the deposition of Patriarch Kyrillos in 1872. During the era of Antonin, the first law of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was issued in 1875, and the Palestinian Orthodox Imperial Society was established in 1882. It was a new instrument through which Russia tried to work with the Eastern patriarchates in the aftermath of the Bulgarian crisis. Antonin dedicated himself to its service. In the course of time, the second Russian Mission led by Antonin Kapustin ceased to exist, leaving room for the Imperial Society to continue its work. Antonin Kapustin died in March 1894 and was buried in the church of the Mount of Olives, which he had built. He spent 28 years in the service of his country in Palestine. He is certainly one of the most important Russian figures who left behind clear traces in Palestine. His correspondence in 1879 is a confirmation of his achievements in Palestine: “I have abandoned all ambition in life and have followed with all my being one end, that of confirming and strengthening Russia’s name in the Holy Land, so that we should not be merely guests there but to a certain extent rightful owners.” This is what Russia has always sought to achieve and was the thing which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate rejected. The two sides averted an open confrontation. Greek Patriarch Kyrillos, the friend of the Russians, and Antonin Kapustin, the Russian politician, tried to avoid the showdown between the Russian and Greek influence in the Holy Land. However, such tentative cooperation lasted for a short time. Kyrillos fell victim of the Bulgarian crisis and was deposed in 1872. The Russians retaliated by impounding the funds and properties of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in their own country.
8- The Bulgarian crisis and the deposition of Patriarch Kyrillos II in 1872:
Greek national sentiments grew under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to which the Ottomans granted a leading role among the Orthodox patriarchates and all the Christians of different denominations and Churches, which came under the rule of the Ottoman Sultanate after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Moreover, the national sentiments of the non-Greek Orthodox peoples also grew in the nineteenth century. Thus these peoples sought to get rid of the Greek ecclesiastical rule. The Greek clergy were accused of trying to hellenize the Balkan population through the Church. In fact, such hellenization was carried out in Jerusalem in the early Ottoman era at the hands of Patriarch Germanos. The Bulgarians were the first people to seek religious independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate before they managed to obtain political independence, as Bulgaria was an Ottoman Vilayet. The Ecumenical Patriarchate replied to the desires of peoples for liberation that political independence is a prerequisite for religious independence, and a people could not be independent religiously as long as they were not politically, and this was what happened in the Greek Kingdom as it gained its political and religious independence in 1829.
Russia did not abandon its leading role in favor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Moscow was the third Rome with its light shining on the world. Panslavism, or the national Slav movement, became active in the nineteenth century. Figures with such a political expansionist mentality led the Russian diplomacy in the 19th century. They included Ignatev, the Russian Ambassador in Istanbul. The philosophy of the national Slav policy is that the East is a Slav-Orthodox world and that Russia is its leader. The long-term objective of the national Slavist trend is to fragment the Ottoman Sultanate, to encourage the secessionist movements of the peoples living under the Sultanate on national-religious basis and to lead these Slav-Orthodox peoples under the Russian banners. This was the reason why Russia stood on the side of the Orthodox Arabs and Bulgarians in their conflict with the Greek religious authorities.
The Slav nationalists considered the Crimean war and the Paris Treaty as a setback for the Slav influence. Their primary goal was to abrogate the treaty and to revive the Russian influence, which was deteriorated after the Crimean war. This escalation led to the outbreak of the Turkish-Russian war of 1877. Victorious Russia imposed on Turkey the San Stefano Treaty in 1878, and thereby achieving the Slav-Russian ambitions. Serbia, Montenegro and Romania won their independence. Russia annexed part of the territories of Romania and the Caucasus. In 1858, Russia established the ‘Slavonic Benevolent Society’ which included in its membership high-ranking Russian figures. The Tsars, the Foreign Ministry and the Church sponsored the Society. Its mission was to help the Slav and Orthodox peoples religiously and politically. The Society spent money on the Slav and Orthodox students who were granted scholarships to the Russian universities and institutes. They returned home after graduation equipped with knowledge and Slav national feelings. Bulgaria obtained its ecclesiastical independence in 1872 and political independence in 1978. The birth of the Orthodox Arab cause and the link that was established between the Arabs and the Bulgarians as well as the violent reaction in the Jerusalem Patriarchate were only a link in the chain of conflicts between the Slav national current and the Greek national current on the collapsing Ottoman arena. Russia tried to make it collapse faster, while the other European Powers, such as France and Britain, were seeking to strengthen and preserve it.
The Bulgarian Church was established in the eleventh century. The Bulgarians were under “the dual pressure by the Turks and Greeks and there was no national center to unify them, and the Patriarch of Turnuvo could not have unified them either. Some 400 years of slavery, from the fifteenth until the nineteenth century, made them reach a state in which they started to lose the concept of their nationalism. Under the yoke of slavery, some of them embraced Islam and joined the Turks. Under multi-faceted Greek pressure, all the residents of the cities denied their nationalism and embraced Greek nationalism. The Bulgarian language was no longer used in the cities at all and the Greek language replaced it. In schools, Greek was the prevalent language. The holy mass was performed in Greek, not in the cities only, but in many villages also. Writing in Bulgarian no longer existed except among the residents of the farms. Because of negligence and pressure from all sides, they had a weak sense of affiliation with their own nationalism.”
The nationalist and Slav trends were behind the religious and political freedom of the Bulgarian people. The Bulgarians found in the Hatti Hamayun Decree issued in 1856 the basis for demanding their freedom: “On the basis of this document, the Bulgarians demanded from the Turkish government that a salary be designated for clergy of their parishes according to the Hatti Hamayun Decree… The Constantinople Patriarchate refused to approve the request of the Bulgarians submitted to it. Therefore, the Bulgarians headed once again to the Turkish government demanding that they be granted a popular ecclesiastical administration independent from the Constantinople Patriarch or at least that their high clergy be elected by the Bulgarians not nominated by the Greeks.”
The request of the Bulgarians was turned down, and they decided to secede officially from Constantinople in 1860. Bulgarian nationalists barred mentioning the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch in their liturgy. From that time, the Bulgarian issue came to the surface, and discussions and meetings were held between the two sides. The Greeks offered the Bulgarians to form an exarchate for the Bulgarians under the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarch. In consequence of the failed negotiations between the two parties, Turkey intervened in 1870: “Turkey issued a Firman on the regulation of the ecclesiastical issues in Bulgaria. According to the Firman, an autonomous Bulgarian exarchate was offered for all the Bulgarian dioceses. Mixed dioceses, of Greek and Bulgarian population, were given the right to join the exarchate if all their residents or at least two thirds of them wanted so. However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not accept this Firman, but the Bulgarians accepted it and formed an exarchate in 1872. They declared ceremonially the independence of the Bulgarian Church from the Constantinople Patriarchate.” The Bulgarians insisted on independence and they got it. “They were backed by Ignatev, the Russian Ambassador in Istanbul.” Ignatev was then one of the leaders of the Slav nationalist current.
The Patriarch of Constantinople invited the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch and the archbishop of Cyprus to a synod to look into the Bulgarian issue. As for Kyrillos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, he was accused of being inclined toward Russia ever since he was enthroned. “Kyrillos’s autocratic and ambitious character increased the areas of conflict with the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. As his reign advanced, he found himself more involved in the machinations of Ignatev’s Panslavist schemes. In the beginning, he supported the decision of the Greek patriarchates against granting autonomy to the Bulgarian Church. But as he was exposed to Russian influence and promises, he began to alienate himself from his fellow Greeks.” At the early beginning of the crisis correspondence was exchanged between the Constantinople and Jerusalem patriarchates. The Patriarch of Jerusalem condemned the demands made by the Bulgarians. The Patriarch of Russia and the Russian Synod affirmed to the Patriarch of Constantinople their goodwill in the Bulgarian-Greek dispute. Papadopoulos avoided accusing Patriarch Kyrillos of betraying the Greek issue and described him as the “old Patriarch who fell victim of the cleverness of Ignatev, particularly that Ignatev threatened him with impounding the funds of the Patriarchate in Romania and enticed him to enthrone him as Patriarch of Constantinople if the Bulgarians achieved their demands… Ignatev prepared a visit by Grand Duke Nicolaevich to Jerusalem while the Constantinople Synod was being held.” The Grand Duke passed by Istanbul en route to Jerusalem and visited Kyrillos in Istanbul and decided to accompany him to Jerusalem.
Kyrillos attended the first session of the Synod’s meetings. He abstained from signing a decree stipulating the excommunication of the Bulgarians, and this was the last weapon to which the Ecumenical Patriarch resorted. The participants in the meeting accused the Bulgarians of “et-Fili heresy -the Filioque- and ordered the excommunication of their archbishops.” Excommunication was not the best solution for the Bulgarian issue. The crisis has reached a point where it could not be resolved by further excommunications, even if they were canonical. Kyrillos refused to sign the decisions made by the Synod. He was anxious to return to his Patriarchate to receive the Russian Grand Duke Nicolaevich who was on his way to visit the Holy Land. The Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos requested him to stay in Istanbul to participate in resolving the Bulgarian Issue or at least to appoint someone to represent him for this purpose. His answer came in a letter, which read as follows: “We have explained our ideas on the Bulgarian Issue to your Beatitude verbally during our talks on this subject. Since the issue is one of great importance, we have decided to proceed to the Holy City of Jerusalem. There upon arrival, we will discuss the issue with our Holy Synod and we will notify you of our decisions.” A book printed in Constantinople in 1873 presents the Russian views on the Bulgarian issue by saying that “Kyrillos fell victim to the Bulgarian crisis because he was extremely dedicated to the higher interests of the faith, which knows no hatred or division, but humanity and love.” In another part, the book says: “The political atmosphere, not the teachings of the Gospel, dominated the Constantinople meeting.” His adversaries called him Judas Iscariot, and they described the good patriarch as “the bad Kyrillos.”
The news of Kyrillos opposition to the decision to excommunicate the Bulgarians reached Jerusalem. Kyrillos and the Grand Duke were still on their way to Jerusalem. Meanwhile members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Synod met and notified their position, which was supportive of Constantinople, by cable to the Phanar. Their decisions in brief were that “they were firm in safeguarding the laws and beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church and that they approved of the decisions made by the said Synod of Constantinople. They noted that every violation was uncanonical and repugnant.” The decision of the Constantinople Synod excommunicating the Bulgarians was issued on 7 November 1872. Thus the Bulgarians broke away from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and declared their independence.
Ignatev did his best to secure the arrival of the patriarch and the Grand Duke to Jerusalem. He had certain knowledge of the stand of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher and its correspondence with the Synod of Constantinople. Therefore, Ignatev requested the Russian Consul in Jerusalem, Kozhevnikov, to cooperate with Father Antonin Kapustin, head of the Russian Mission, “to give a brilliant reception to the patriarch and to obtain for him the support of the Arab element against the monastery -the Brotherhood- which is inimically disposed.” As long as the Grand Duke was in Jerusalem, the Brotherhood would not dare to oppose the patriarch, who enjoys the protection of the Russian Imperial family. Meanwhile, a flood of cables was exchanged among Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Damascus and Jerusalem. In his cables, Ignatev urged Russia’s agents in the region to mobilize the Arab parishioners against the Greek Patriarch of Antioch and to declare secession from the Ecumenical Patriarchate as so to create some sort of pressure on the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. On 22 July 1872, the Russian Consul in Jerusalem sent the following cable to Ignatev: “We cannot place much hope in the Arabs; conditioned by outside intrigues, they have little sympathy for Kyrillos.” In early October 1872, the patriarch and the Grand Duke headed to inaugurate a church in Lod. The Russian Consul tried to win the support of the Arabs for the benefit of Kyrillos. Despite all the Russian attempts, the Synod decided to depose their patriarch in November when the Grand Duke had already left Palestine for his country. Both Russians and Arabs were powerless to prevent the Synod from deposing the patriarch in November 1872. “What Russia had done was to encourage the creation of a conscious national Arab Orthodox opinion and to awaken a strong desire for greater participation in the affairs of the Patriarchate. The Orthodox Arab national movement dates from the deposition of Kyrillos.”
The decision made by the Jerusalem Synod, which met on 12 November 1872, was:
“His Beatitude has violated the decision of the Synod held on 24 January 1869, which was sent to Christ’s Great Church (Constantinople), and acted in a despotic way, not only in Constantinople where he did not approve the decisions of the great Holy Synod held in Mesaxarion, an Istanbul suburb called Orta Kapi, Even here in Jerusalem, he has refrained from reaching an understanding with us, and also refused to approve the decision we made at a local meeting, we the members of the Holy Synod and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. On the basis of all this and in accordance with the law, we view his Beatitude as being subject to penalty and a dissident from the Church. We also declare that the vow of obedience we made to him is no longer binding to us. From this very moment, we are breaking off every relationship with him. We will not participate with him in the holy mass and we do not consider him as a shepherd or a canonical superior.”
Ignatev interpreted the categorical decision of the Synod to depose Kyrillos as a Turkish conspiracy in which the consuls of Germany and Britain in Jerusalem participated. However, the Arabs supported the deposed patriarch. ”The local Orthodox population recognized the Bulgarians as a race suffering under a common grievance with themselves, the grievance of Hellenic predominance. When the patriarch was deposed they rose in his support. The whole of Jerusalem is said to have been filled with tumult and disturbance. The Orthodox populace assailed the monks in the street and besieged the central Monastery for several days. The local Christians broke off all relations with the Fraternity; they refrained from attending religious services; they occupied certain monasteries and prevented the usual communication between the Convent and the Holy Sepulcher through the Church of Saint James.”
Ignatev tried to pressure Turkey to confirm Kyrillos in his post, but his attempts were futile, and the position of the Arab Orthodox in Jerusalem continued to be weak. “A quantité négligeable the Orthodox Arabs of Jerusalem.” Therefore, Ignatev resorted to the last solution, namely, financial pressure on the Brotherhood. So he ordered, on 27 November 1872, the impoundment of the property of the Brotherhood and the Waqf (religious endowments) of the Holy Sepulcher in Russia. “The Russian Ambassador in Istanbul, Count Ignatev, cabled to St. Petersburg asking prince Alexander Gorchakov to send in turn a cable to archimandrite Patrikios, the vicar of the Jerusalem Patriarch in the city of Kishinnev in Bessarabia, ordering him to stop sending to Jerusalem the proceeds of the Jerusalem See in Russia but to deposit them in one of the Russian banks to be kept there until the crisis of the Jerusalem Church and the monks is resolved. Moreover, on the strength of a Tsarist order, the Russian government decided to impound the proceeds of the immovable properties of the Jerusalem See in Russia, most of which were in Bessarabia and the Caucasus.”
The Russian pressure failed to change the attitude of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. Istanbul endorsed the deposition of Kyrillos on 18 December 1872. On the same day, Nazif Pasha, the governor of Jerusalem, sent him under guard to Istanbul. The Synod elected Procopios II as Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Istanbul confirmed him. Meanwhile, the Arabs continued to view Kyrillos as their legitimate patriarch. The impoundment of the property of the Patriarchate was not applied to the Orthodox Arabs. “The Orthodox national Palestinians knew about this, i.e. the impoundment of the property. So they sent a message to Count Ignatev to give them part of these revenues so as to be able to resist their enemies. Their enemies were the monks who were spending a great amount of money to consolidate their position. Thus, an amount of 10,000 rubles was appropriated per year for the Jerusalem Patriarch Kyrillos who, in collaboration with Nikiforos, chief clerk of the Holy Synod, was defending truth and justice on the side of the nationalists and resisting the usurping monks.”
Ignatev continued to give hope to Kyrillos that he would return to his see. However, the outbreak of the Turkish-Russian war in 1877 destroyed such hope. He died in August 1877 and was “buried in the Convent of the Holy Sepulcher in the Bosphorus straits after spending five years in Istanbul during which he did not utter one single word against the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher in which he became a member in 1814, lived in it for 30 years, and then presided over it, as patriarch, for 30 more years.”
Russia triumphed by installing Kyrillos as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1845 and was defeated when he was deposed in 1872. It installed him patriarch by its support and care and he was deposed despite Russia. The Greeks lost in the encounter with the Bulgarians and they will lose in another encounter between the Russian and Greek influence in the Patriarchate of Antioch two decades later. Nevertheless, the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher did not bargain or capitulate in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Patriarchate was the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood was the Patriarchate of the Holy Places. The monks of the Brotherhood were running the Patriarchate with an iron fist. The ecclesiastical missions, which the Russian bridgehead in the countries of the East, failed to remove the Greek influence in Palestine and clashed with the Brotherhood, which made a pitched defense of its entity. It deposed its patriarch who heeded the Russian advice and did not sponsor the Greek viewpoint. The Russians will change the style of their work in the East by launching the Palestinian Orthodox Imperial Society, and thus they would win in Syria and lose once again in Palestine.
The outcome of the Palestinian-Russian relations until 1872 was tangible in the next decades: “the local question thus aroused continued to simmer for many years.” The local and international conflict between the patriarchal factions dictated the enactment of a series of laws. These laws and the Arab Orthodox issue are the themes of the next chapters.