Platon II of Moscow

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Platon II of Moscow, (Russian: Платон) or Plato II was the Metropolitan of Moscow from 1775 to 1812. He personifies the Age of Enlightenment in the Church of Russia.

Life

Peter Levshin was born in Chashnikovo, near Moscow, on June 29, 1737, into a family whose father was a psalmodist. He was educated at the seminary and theological academy in Moscow, where, in 1757, he was appointed an instructor in Greek and rhetoric and gained distinction as a presenter of homilies. His rhetorical abilities brought him appointment as an instructor of rhetoric at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra just north of Moscow. He soon chose a monastic life and was tonsured with the name Platon. In 1761, he became the rector of the seminary at the the monastery.

In October 1762, he gave a sermon before the Empress Catherine II that impressed her greatly. This resulted in his being summoned to the court to be the religious instructor for her son, Paul Petrovitch, the eight year old heir apparent. At the court, Platon came into close association with Voltaire and the encyclopedists. Yet, due to his strength of faith and his character his reputation was unblemished. Fr. Platon remained at the court until the heir apparent married Maria Feodorovna, the daughter of Duke Eugene of Wurttemberg in 1773.

Having progressed through the Holy Orders, Fr. Platon became a member of the Holy Synod in 1768, and in 1770, he was consecrated Bishop of Tver. While being named Bishop of Tver, Bp. Platon remained in St Petersburg where he was named the religious instructor of the new grand duchess. In 1775, he was enthroned archbishop of Moscow, a position he held through the reigns of Catherine II, Paul, and Alexander I. As archbishop, Platon diligently promoted the religious, moral, intellectual, and material welfare of his archdiocese. In 1787, Abp. Platon was elevated to metropolitan of Moscow. He maintained his residence outside the city: at Trinity-St. Sergius monastery in the winter and at the Pererva monastery in the summer. He personally supervised the education of the seminarians at the monasteries that included three students who would succeed him as archbishop of Moscow.

Metr. Platon maintained a lenient policy toward the Old Believers, allowing them to establish a number of chapels in the city of Moscow, including at the Preobrazhenskoe cemetery. He formalized the arrangement, known as Edinoverie, that Abp. Nikephoros of Slaviansk had introduced earlier that allowed Old Believer communities to join the Church of Russia while using their traditional rites. These communities became known as Old-Ritualists,

Even in his associations with the court, Metr. Platon maintained his firmness and independence, yet enjoyed close and cordial relations. He crowned Paul as emperor in 1797 and Alexander I in 1801. He reposed on November 11, 1812, shortly after he evacuated Moscow before Napoleon entered Moscow.

Writings

Metr. Platon was the author of a number of publications. During his term as tutor for the heir apparent he wrote, as a catechism for Paul Petrovitch, his Orthodox Doctrine: or, A short Compend of Christian Theology that was published in Moscow in 1765. In this work the influence of Western thought, and rationalism, may be traced, although the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are attacked mercilessly, as well as the Lutheran tenet of ubiquity and the Reform theory of predestination are also criticized.

A year later, he published his Exhortation of the Orthodox Eastern Catholic Church of Christ to her former Children, now on the Road to Schism. In this work, Metr. Platon pleaded with little success for lenient treatment of dissenters from the Orthodox Church.

Metr. Platon’s collected works were published in twenty volumes between 1779 and 1807. A major portion of these writings were sermons, which numbered about 500. In 1770, his sermon celebrating the victory of Tschesme, that he preached at the request of the Empress Catherine, appeared in English translation in London. An abridged English translation of a Greek version of his original catechism was published in London in 1867.

Succession box:
Platon II of Moscow
Preceded by:
?
Bishop of Tver
1770-1775
Succeeded by:
?
Preceded by:
Samouel
Metropolitan of Moscow
1775-1812
Succeeded by:
Avgustin
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