Joseph (Petrovykh) of Petrograd

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Metropolitan 'Joseph (Petrovykh) of Petrograd was a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early part of the twentieth century who during the persecutions objected strenuously to the Metr. Sergius' issuance of the declaration of support for the Bolshevik regime in 1927. He became the most vocal leader of the Catacomb Church in Russia.


Born Ivan Semionovitch Petrovykh, (Russian: Иван Семенович Петровых), on December 15, 1872 near Tikhvin city of Ustyuzhna in Novgorod province. He began his theological education in the Ustyuzhna Theological school, then continued at the Novgorod Theological Seminary. In 1895, he entered the Moscow Theological Academy, graduating in 1899 with the degree of candidate of theology and a professor´s scholarship. In 1899, after his graduation Ivan Semionovitch participated in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On September 9, 1900 he was named lecturer in Biblical history at the Moscow Academy.

On August 26, 1901, he was tonsured a monk by Bp. Arsenius (Stadnitsky) with the monastic name of Joseph. On September 30, 1901, Monk Joseph was ordained to the diaconate, followed on October 14 by his ordination to the priesthood. In February, 1903, he was awarded the degree of master of theology. His dissertation was: "The history of the Jewish people according to the archaeology of Joseph Flavian". On December 9, 1903, he was appointed inspector and extraordinary professor of the Moscow Academy. On January 18, 1904 he was raised to the dignity of archimandrite.

In 1904, Archim. Joseph came to the defense of contemplative monasticism that had come under attack by Professor N. F. Kapterev. The affair over the professor's article left bitter feelings about Archim. Joseph among the academics after Metr. Vladimir of Moscow banned the article.

In June 1906, Archim. Joseph was appointed superior of the Yablochinsky St. Onuphrius monastery in Kholm diocese that was in poor condition, but which Fr. Joseph was able to reinvigorate. In 1907, he was assigned to the Yuriev Monastery in the Diocese of Novgorod.

On March 15, 1909, Archim. Joseph was consecrated Bishop of Uglich, a vicariate of the Yaroslavl diocese in Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. Later in the year, Bp. Joseph was appointed superior of the Spaso-Yakovlevsky monastery in Rostov, a post he retained until 1923. While at Spaso-Yakovlevsky monastery he consecrated a church in honor of the Tolga icon of the Mother of God in 1909. On April 1, 1912, he consecrated the Church of the Resurrection and, in 1916, he consecrated a chapel in honor of the Vatopedi icon of the Mother of God, followed in 1917 with consecration of a church in honor of the Mother of God, "the Joy of all who Sorrow".

Bp. Joseph participated in the local Council of 1917-1918. As the Bolsheviks strengthened their position of power in Russia, Bp. Joseph became entangled in disputes with them. On July 7, 1919, he was arrested for leading processions aimed at stopping the Bolsheviks in their campaign of uncovering holy relics. Held in Lubyanka in Moscow, he was released in August.

On January 22, 1920, Bp. Joseph was made Archbishop of Rostov, a vicariate of the Diocese of Yaroslavl, and later was named administrator of the Diocese of Novgorod for a period to 1925. Over the next few years, Abp. Joseph was often arrested and held for varying periods of time. As the Living Church/renovationist heresy activities spread, Abp. Joseph stayed in the Spaso-Yakovlevsky monastery from which he managed his diocesan responsibilities, including being administrater of the Diocese of Yaroslavl.

On May 21, 1924, Patr. Tikhon appointed him to the Holy Synod. On April 12, 1925, he participated in the transfer of Church leadership to Metropolitan Peter after the death of the patriarch. On December 6, 1925, Metr. Peter named him as the third candidate for succession to the position of deputy patriarchal locum tenens after Metrs. Michael (Yermakov) and Sergius (Stragorodsky).

In August 1926, he was appointed Metropolitan of Petrograd a choice driven by the insistent request of the believers in Petrograd. Accepting the position "out of obedience", he objected to being metropolitan of Leningrad and used the pre-revolutionary title of Petrograd. On September 13, Metr. Joseph left Petrograd for Moscow, never to return.

Confronted with the attempts by OGPU division head Tuchkov to control the Church, action that he opposed, Metr. Joseph was sent to exile in Rostov. After deputy patriarchal locum tenens Sergius was arrested, Metr. Joseph became the deputy for the patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Peter. On December 26, 1926, Metr. Joseph was arrested again and was confined to the former Modensky Nikolayevsky monastery in the Novgorod diocese.

In July 1927, Metr. Sergius, having been released from prison, signed his declaration of submission to the Bolsheviks, and on September 17, 1927, he transferred Metr. Joseph from Petrograd to Odessa, probably under pressure from the Bolsheviks. Metr. Joseph immediately refused the transfer, calling it "anti-canonical, ill-advised and pleasing to an evil intrigue in which I will have no part". Over the following months of bitter arguments including separation between the Sergius loyalists and those of Metr, Joseph, Sergius' synod place Metr. Joseph under ban, and was tried and forcefully retired, all of which Metr. Joseph ignored.

After his arrest again on September 12, 1930, Metr. joseph was convicted on the following September 3, 1931 of being "the leader of the church-administrative centre of the All-Union counter-revolutionary monarchist organization, `The True Orthodox Church´". He was sentenced to five years in camps, a sentence that was to exile him to the desert of Kazakhstan for five years.

On June 24, 1937, Metr. Joseph was arrested on a charge of "counter revolutionary activity". After intense interrogation and questionable confessions, Metr. Joseph was sentenced to death. Metr. Joseph was executed by gun fire on November 10, 1937 in the Lisij Ovrag near Chimkent, Kazakhstan together with Metr. Kyril (Smirnov) of Kazan, Bp. Eugene (Kobranov) of Rostov, and many others.

In 1981, Metr. Joseph was glorified as a New Martyr by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, but his glorification has not been recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church. His feast day is November 30.

Succession box:
Joseph (Petrovykh) of Petrograd
Preceded by:
Bishop of Uglich
Vicar Yaroslavl Diocese

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Bishop of Rostov
Vicar Yaroslavl Diocese

Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Benjamin (Kazansky)

title=Metropolitan of Petrograd


after=Seraphim (Chichagov)

Succeeded by:
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