Ivan Ivanovich Melissino

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Ivan Ivanovich Melissino was the Ober-Procurator of the Apostolic Governing Synod of the Church of Russia from 1763 to 1768. Under Empress Catherine II, he initiated the move to secularize church lands in southern Russia.


Ivan Ivanovich was born in 1718 into the family of Ivan Afanasievich Melissino, a noble who had come to Russia from Greece during the reign of Peter I. Ivan Afanasievich was Vice President of the Commerce College in Kurland from 1740 to 1745.

Ivan Ivanovich was educated in the Corps of Cadets, graduating on April 20,1740. He then entered the Imperial civil service with the rank of lieutenant. In 1745, he was a member of the commission that audited the Kunstkamera, the first museum in Russia founded by Peter I, and the library of the Academy of Sciences. In 1746, he served in the office of the governor-general of Revel.

On April 18, 1757, Ivan Ivanovich was appointed Director of the Moscow University on the recommendation of the curator of the university, I. I. Shuvalov. As director, he took particular care of improving educational programming, overseeing home education, and certificating foreign teachers. He also initiated regular meetings of the literary societies at the university.

On June 10, 1763, Ivan Ivanovich was appointed Ober Procurator, and with the backing of Empress Catherine II, began increasing the authority of the procurator's position in the Synod. In 1766. Ivan Ivanovich initiated a move to secularize the lands of the Church in southern Russia with the aim of allocating the revenues of the monasteries to the needs of the secular clergy. In 1767, he introduced to the Synod, with his deputy Metropolitan Dmitri (Sechenov) of Novgorod, a program of proposed changes in the Russian Orthodox Church. The proposed changes covered a wide area of subjects including service changes, clothing of priests, loosening marriage restrictions including those on marriage to infidels, permitting divorce, and allowing communion only those over ten years old. The Synod declined even to consider the draft paper. On October 24, 1768, Ivan Ivanovich was dismissed from office.

After his dismissal, Ivan Ivanovich was named guardian of the Moscow Orphanage. In 1771, he returned to the Moscow University as curator where in coordination with Michael M. Kheraskov, the director, he founded a boarding school and a number of literary and cultural societies. He became a member of the Academy of Russia in 1783. Ivan Ivanovich died on March 23, 1795.

Succession box:
Ivan Ivanovich Melissino
Preceded by:
Alexei Semenovich Kozlovsky
Succeeded by:
Peter Petrovich Chebyshev
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