Gavryil Banulesco-Bodoni (secular name – Grygorii)

Gavryil Banulesco-Bodoni (secular name – Grygorii)

Gavryil Banulesco-Bodoni (secular name – Grygorii) was born in 1746 in Bystritsa (Transylvania) of the Austrian Empire (now Romania). He came from an ancient respectable Moldavian family. After receiving primary education in 1771 he entered the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, where he studied theology for two years. Then he went to Greece, continued his studies in Greek higher schools on the islands of Patmos, Chios, and Mount Athos. After returning to his homeland, Grygoryi taught in Transylvania and Moldavia.

In 1779 he took monastic vows in the Holy Dormition Monastery of Constantinople under the name Gavryil, studied for three years on the island of Patmos, where he mastered the Greek and French languages. In 1781 he returned to Iasi (now Romania), was ordained a hieromonk and became a preacher in the metropolitan cathedra. However, in 1782, at the invitation of an old friend, then archbishop of Slovyansk and Kherson Nykyfor Feotoki, he moved to Poltava, where he became a teacher and later prefect of the Slavic Theological Seminary.

In 1784, Gabriel returned to Iasi, where he received the Khushi Diocese and the title of archimandrite. With the beginning of the Russian-Turkish war of 1787–1791, together with the Moldavian hospodar (prince) Olexander II Mavrokordato escaped to Poltava. At first he was a home teacher for the hospodar’s family, and in 1788 he became the rector of the Katerynoslav Theological Seminary, where he also taught Greek and opened a Hellenistic school.

In 1789 he returned to Moldova, which was occupied by Russian troops. In 1791 he was appointed bishop of Bender and Akkerman, vicar of the metropolitan of Moldova. In 1792 he became metropolitan and exarch of Moldova, Wallachia and Bessarabia. However, after the withdrawal of the Russian army, on June 19, 1792, metropolitan Gavryil was arrested on the order of hospodar Olexander Moruzi, sent to Istanbul, where the Patriarch Neophytos VII of Constantinople deprived him of the cathedra and issued anathema against him. However, four months later, at the request of the ambassador of the Russian Empire, Viktor Kochubey, Gavryil was released.

In 1793, the bishop received a precious cross and a white klobuk (hood) from Empress Catherine II, occupying the cathedra of the metropolitan of Katerynoslav and Kherson-Tavriiskyi (since 1797 – of Novorossiysk and Dnipropetrovsk). The founding of the city of Odessa (with his blessing) and the laying of four churches in this new city of the Russian Empire (1794) belong to the time of metropolitan Gavryil’s stay at the Katerynoslav cathedra.

In 1799–1804, Gavryil (Banulescu-Bodoni) was the metropolitan of Kyiv and Halych. Under him, the process of Russification of the Ukrainian church continued. He tried to reconcile the church service on the Right Bank of Ukraine, which joined the Russian Empire after the second (1793) and the third (1795) partitions of Poland, with the Russian church canons. He replaced the liturgical books in the churches (Pochaiv printing house of the Union period) with synodal editions, abolished the old tradition of parishioners choosing the church parish, the right to inherit the priesthood in the parish, introduced compulsory education of children of priests in theological schools.

As the protector of the Kyiv Academy, Metropolitan Gavryil contributed to the expansion of educational programs, in particular, in 1801 he introduced new classes of music singing and instrumental music, and in 1802 – a class of medicine. In 1801, Gavryil (Banulescu-Bodoni) became a member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and a cavalier of the Order of Andrew the First-Called. However, in 1803 he voluntarily resigned and settled in Odessa.

With the beginning of the new Russian-Turkish war in 1808, Gavryil was appointed exarch Moldovlakhiiskyi – of Moldova, Wallachia and Bessarabia, which in relation to the church were removed from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and subordinated to the Synod. He settled in Iasi, where he began to reform the organization and principles of church life, and after the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812 he moved to Chisinau with the title of metropolitan of Chisinau and Khotyn. He introduced the Romanian language into the church service, and in 1814 he founded a printing house, where, with his help, the Servant and the New Testament were published in Romanian translation. He opened a seminary in Chisinau (Moldova), as well as a secular school, organized Lancaster schools in Bessarabia.

He died on April 1, 1821 and was buried in the Holy Dormition Capriana Monastery in Chisinau.