Difference between revisions of "Nikephoros Theotokis"

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[[Category:18th-century bishops]]

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Nikephoros Theotokis or Nikiforos Theotokis, (Greek: Νικηφόρος Θεοτόκης, Russian: Никифор Феотоки) was a Greek scholar and theologian of the late eighteenth century, who became an archbishop in the southern provinces of the Russia. A learned man - a polymath, he has been respected in Greece as one of the "Teachers of the Nation".[1] He is especially noted for his efforts while an archbishop in Russia of initiating a program for legalizing Old Believer churches and form of worship within the official Russian Orthodox Church.


Nikephoros was born in 1731 on Corfu, Greece on the Ionian Sea. He was educated in Bologna and Padua, Italy.[2] Upon returning to Greece in 1748 he took monastic vows as a monk and was ordained to the major clerical orders becoming a hieromonk in 1754. Intellectually driven, his interests were in educating the youth of his country. In 1752, Athanasius Parios was one of his students. By 1758, he had set up his own school on Corfu. This was the first school on the island in which a wide range of subjects was taught. These subjects included Greek and Italian literature, grammar, geography, rhetorics, physics and mathematics, and philosophy.

He also acquired a reputation as a preacher at the local church of St. John the Baptist and as an author of textbooks on physics and mathematics. Nikephoros' achievements did not go unnoticed. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Samuel I Chatzeres, in 1765, appointed him the preacher at the Church of St. George in Constantinople. Fr. Nikephoros did not stay long in Constantinople as he began to spend much of his time during the next decade between Leipzig, where he published his Physics, and Jassy.

In 1776, Fr. Nikephoros was invited by Archbishop Eugenios Boulgaris of Slaviansk and Kherson, who was also of Greek origin, to join him at his diocese. The seat of the diocese was located in Poltava and remained there after the diocese was renamed Yekaterinoslav. Abp. Eugenios groomed Nikephoros as his successor, which happened when Nikephoros succeeded Eugenios upon his retirement in 1779.

Abp. Nikephoros was known to speak against dissenter religious groups, such as the Old Believers and the sectarians. In 1780, after disappointment with the results of trying to persuade Old Believers to abandon their rites, Abp. Nikephoros started to reach out to the Old Believer communities, and with the support of Metr. Platon of Moscow, offered to legalize their churches and their form of worship, as long as they accepted the authority of the official church. After a number of Old Believer communities in the Ukraine and southern Russia accepted such arrangements over the following years, Abp. Nikephoros' approach was adopted nationwide, under the name of Edinoverie ('Unity in Faith'). [3][4]

In 1786, Abp. Nikephoros was transferred to Astrakhan, where he served as the Archbishop of Astrakhan and Stavropol. In 1792, he retired as a diocesan bishop and became the abbot of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. Abp. Nikephoros reposed in 1800.

Succession box:
Nikephoros Theotokis
Preceded by:
Eugenios Boulgaris
Archbishop of Slaviansk and Kherson
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Astrakhan and Stavropol
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Archbishop (Abbot) of Danilov Monastery
Succeeded by:
Help with box


  1. Corfu Greece - Literature
  2. Literaries - Philosophers - Scholars
  3. Yu.A. Katunin (Катунин Ю. А.), A.V. Belsky (Бельский А. В.) ЭТАПЫ БОРЬБЫ ЗА СОЗДАНИЕ ЦЕРКВИ У СТАРООБРЯДЦЕВ (Stages of the struggle for creating a church among the Old Believers)
  4. Irina Paert. "Old Believers, Religious Dissent and Gender in Russia, 1760-1850". Manchester University Press, 2003. ISBN 0719063221 On Google Books