Mazyrin Alexander, priest

On the history of Grigorian Schism: little-known letter of chairman of the “Temporary Higher Church Council” to the deputy patriarchal locum tenens, 1926

Mazyrin Alexander (2018) "On the history of Grigorian Schism: little-known letter of chairman of the “Temporary Higher Church Council” to the deputy patriarchal locum tenens, 1926 ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2018, vol. 81, pp. 139-148 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201881.139-148


This publication makes public a little-known polemical letter from archbishop Grigory (Yatskovskiy), the leader of the Grigorian schism that originated in December, 1925, to the Deputy Patriarchal Locum Tenens metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky). The letter was sent to the addressee in early March, 1926, at a time when the schismatics still had hopes for a favourable development of the situation. The document was discovered in the Collection of archbishop Seraphim (Samoilovich), now kept in the Church Historical Archive of St. Tikhon’s University. In 1926, archbishop Seraphim was a staunch supporter of Metropolitan Sergius, and, apparently, a copy of the letter of archbishop Grigory was sent to him in order to change his position. The document allows us to clarify some important details regarding the history of the fi rst months of Grigorian schism and the attempts of the State Political Directorate to enmesh into the schismatic intrigue such prominent church fi gures as Patriarchal Locum Tenens hieromartyr metropolitan Peter (Polyanskiy), metropolitan Arseny (Stadnitskiy), hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitskiy). At the same time, the letter of archbishop Grigory shows that not all the arguments aimed against him by metropolitan Sergius were equally strong. Some arguments of the Deputy were clearly casuistic, though generally in his controversy with Grigory’s supporters he was right, which was the reason why he was supported by Orthodox bishops. On the whole, the author of this publication comes to the conclusion that Grigory’s doctrine was diff erent (towards the better) from Renovationism, which was originally set up in 1922 as a clique of whistleblowers. Historical evaluations of these two signifi cant Russian church schisms of the 1920s should not be the same.


Russian Orthodox Church, Grigorian schism, Temporary Higher Church Council, Moscow Patriarchate, higher church administration, metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), metropolitan Peter (Polyanskiy), archbishop Grigory (Yatskovskiy), ecclesiastical controversy, Renovationism


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Information about the author

Mazyrin Alexander, priest

Academic Degree: Doctor of Theology;
Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Academic Rank: Professor;
Place of work: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities; 6/1 Likhov Pereulok, Moscow 127051, Russian Federation;
Post: professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-6490-9745;
Email: am_pstbi@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article is written in 2018 within the framework of the project "Higher administration in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1920s-1930s: problems of canonical and practical succession" supported by PSTGU Development Foundation.