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Nikon

Nikon (nē´kōn), 1605–81, Russian churchman, patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (1652–66). He undertook an extremely vigorous reform of church discipline and ritual with a view to purging accretions and eccentricities from the Russian rites. His reforms, particularly his correction of service books from the Greek (1654), created a schism in the church and inspired the formation of a major opposition sect, the Raskolniki, who retained the older usages banned by Nikon. Heterodox sects such as the Dukhobors formed and attached themselves to the Raskolniki to avoid persecution. By 1658, Nikon had aroused sufficiently powerful opposition to bring about his banishment, and in 1666 he was deposed and degraded. He was a figure unique in Russian church history, for he opposed any interference by the state in church affairs and considered the two institutions to be distinct and separate. His reforms were maintained after he was deposed.

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Nikon

Nikon or Nikita Minin (1605–81). Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, 1652–8. He was a married parish priest, with three children. But when the children died, he went, with the agreement of his wife, into monastic solitude. He was drawn back into ecclesiastical life by the support of the Tsar, but continued the pursuit of reform when he was made patriarch, thereby creating the fierce resistance of the Old Believers. He fell out of favour with the Tsar and resigned. He made an attempt to return to office, but was imprisoned. When at last he was invited to return to Moscow, he died before he could get there. He remains deeply respected (except by descendants of the Old Believers) as one of the greatest of the patriarchs for his reforms.

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