The Most Holy Governing Synod in the history of Russian statehood

The Most Holy Governing Synod in the history of Russian statehood

One of the major reforms, carried out by Peter I, was the reform of church administration. When the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Adrian died in October of 1700, Peter I disabled the election of a new prelate of the Russian Orthodox Church and assigned Metropolitan of Ryazan and Murom Stefan Yavorsky the Patriarchal locum tenens. In practice, the Patriarchate in Russia was abrogated, and then restored after almost two hundred years, in 1917.

In subsequent years, Peter I issued a series of decrees aimed at the integration of the church in the state mechanism. In 1718, work on the creation of the Ecclesiastical College, a collegiate body of the church administration, began. The prepared document, entitled the Ecclesiastic Regulation, was published on January 25 (February 5) in 1721. On February 14 (25), 1721 the Ecclesiastical College changed its name to “Most Holy All-Ruling Synod”.

Initially the Synod included the president, two vice-presidents, four advisers and four assessors. In 1722 a post of Chief Procurator (attorney-general) of the Holy Synod - a civil official, whose duties include oversight of the church accomplishments - was established. Chief Procurator reported directly to the monarch. Over time, their power is greatly increased and in the 1830s has basically become equal to a power of the Minister. Since 1835 the Chief Procurator was invited on affairs of his department in the State Council and the Committee of Ministers. The position of the Chief Procurator was abolished 5 (18) in August 1917.

All management issues, the countermeasures against the schism and sectarianism, missionary and church publishing, religious enlightenment, education and censorship, construction and maintenance of the temples and belonging to ecclesiastical ministry buildings were in the jurisdiction of the Synod. Again the Synod was solving the cases, which were subjects to the church court (a divorce, a clergy misbehavior, etc.).

The collection includes more than two thousand units. Among them are the research, legal documents, sources of personal origin, social and political journalism, drafts and blueprints, photographs and postcards, and the periodicals. Collected materials are allocated in thematic sections accompanied with brief reviews.

The collection was prepared basing on the stocks of the Russian State Historical Archives, the Russian State Library, the State Public Historical Library, the Russian State Archive, the Tambov Regional Universal Scientific Library named after A. S. Pushkin, the Ryazan Kremlin Scientific Library, the Children's Museum of Postcard, the Russian State Film and Photo Archive, the Moscow Regional State Scientific Library named after N. K. Krupskaya, the Russian National Library, the Library of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, the Library of the Moscow Theological Academy, and the National Library of the Republic of Karelia.

  • The history of the Most Holy Synod

    This section includes materials that characterize the history of the Synod in certain historical periods. Among the items are the manuscript of the Ecclesiastic Regulation with the notes of Peter I, the various editions of this document, the Chief Procurator’s reports, and historical research monographs. The section also contains materials that exemplify an organizational structure and a budget of the Synod.
  • The Locations of the Most Holy Synod

    This section contains materials describing the buildings, which at various times the Synod headquartered in. The main attention is driven to the ensemble of two the Senate and the Synod buildings, erected in the 1829-1834 years at the Senate Square in St. Petersburg. The section offers the archival cases from the stock of the Provisional Committee for the Reconstruction of the Senate and the Synod buildings.
  • The Chief Procurators and the members of the Holy Synod

    The section presents confidential documents and materials related to official activities of the Chief Procurators and the members of the Holy Synod. The materials from the personal archive of K. P. Pobedonostsev are offered as a separate selection.
  • Synodic periodicals

    This section includes the "Church Bulletin", the official press organ of the Holy Synod. The publication was circulating from 1888 to 1918. The executive orders and decrees, the Synod orders, the Chief Procurator’s reports, the notifications about all kinds of awards were releasing on bulletin’s pages. A casual section was filled with excerpts from patristic literature, church sermons, and theological, hagiography and historical articles.
Share content in social networks: