Mohyla, Peter (Romanian, Petru Movilǎ; 1596–1646)

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MOHYLA, PETER (Romanian, Petru Movilǎ; 15961646)

MOHYLA, PETER (Romanian, Petru Movilǎ; 15961646), archimandrite of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves and Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev. Mohyla was the son of Simeon, hospodar (lord) of Walachia and Moldavia. He and his mother, the Hungarian princess Margareta, sought the protection of magnate relatives in the western Ukrainian lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after his father's murder in 1607. Mohyla may have studied at the school of the Orthodox Lviv Brotherhood and at the Zamość Academy; one source suggests that he studied in western Europe. In any event, he received a thorough education, mastering Greek, Latin, Polish, and Church Slavonic, as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theology.

On 16 September 1627, with the support of the palatine of Kiev, Tomasz Zamoyski, Mohyla was named archimandrite of the Kievan Caves Monastery, replacing the recently deceased Zakhariia Kopystenskyi. During that year, Mohyla was drawn into a series of discussions about the reunification of the Ruthenian Church. He broke with Meletii Smotrytskyi's plans for Union at the council held in Kiev in 1628; Smotrytskyi alleged that Mohyla was motivated by fear of the Cossacks and the lesser clergy.

Mohyla remained at the center of interest on the Uniate side. In a memorial to Rome in the spring of 1629, the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev Josyf Veliamyn Rutskyi proposed the creation of a Ruthenian patriarchate and suggested Mohyla for the office. Such discussions would continue, always foundering on Mohyla's insistence on the relative autonomy of the Ruthenian church and the suspicions of Cossacks and lesser clergy that such plans were simply a ruse to bring the Orthodox into the Roman church.

Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev Iov Boretskyi died on 12 March 1631. Mohyla had the support of King Sigismund III of Poland to succeed him, but, with the backing of the Cossacks, lower clergy, and middling Orthodox gentry, an implacable enemy of the Union, Isaiah Kopynskyi, was chosen instead. Mohyla turned his attention to education in the interim. He brought teachers from Lviv and opened a school in Kiev 1631, over objections of the Kiev Epiphany Brotherhood, who had established their own school c. 1615. In 1632 Mohyla went to Warsaw for the parliament that elected King Władysław IV. There he worked for the legalization of the Orthodox hierarchy and was confirmed by the king as Orthodox metropolitan.

In July 1633 Mohyla removed his competitor Kopynskyi by force and took the St. Sophia cathedral in Kiev away from the Uniates. Under Mohyla the Orthodox Church was consolidated and centralized, and Kiev overtook Vilnius and Lviv as the center of the Ruthenian renewal, regaining some of its ancient splendor through the metropolitan's projects of archaeology, renovation, and new building. On 18 March 1635 the king gave his permission to transform the united schools of the brotherhood and the monastery into an Orthodox Ruthenian college (soon known as the Kiev-Mohyla College) with rights to teach dialectics and logic in Greek and Latin.

In the years 16371646 Mohyla oversaw a number of projects (liturgical and devotional books) at the printing house of the Monastery of the Caves, over which he remained archimandrite. A synod met in Kiev in 1640 to discuss dogmatic questions, and in 1645 the first partial edition of Mohyla's catechism of the Orthodox faith appeared in print. Plans and cautious negotiations to create a Ruthenian patriarchate in some sort of relationship with Rome continued to surface in the 1630s and 1640s. Mohyla died in January 1647.

See also Orthodoxy, Russian ; Poland-Lithuania, Commonwealth of, 15691795 ; Reformations in Eastern Europe: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox ; Ukraine ; Uniates ; Union of Brest (1596) .


Ševčenko, Ihor. "The Many Worlds of Peter Mohyla." Harvard Ukrainian Studies 8 (1984): 944.

Thomson, Francis J. "Peter Mogila's Ecclesiastical Reforms and the Ukrainian Contribution to Russian Culture: A Critique of Georges Florovsky's Theory of 'the Pseudomorphosis of Orthodoxy."' Slavica Gandensia 20 (1993): 67119.

David Frick