Isydor Nikolskyi (secular name – Yakiv Serhiiovych Nikolskyi)

Isydor Nikolskyi (secular name – Yakiv Serhiiovych Nikolskyi)

Isydor Nikolskyi (secular name – Yakiv Serhiiovych Nikolskyi) was born on October 14, 1799 in the family of the deacon of the Intercession Church Serhiy Ivanov in the Nikolske village, Kashyrskyi County, Tula Province. It was from the name of the place of birth that the future metropolitan received his own surname. Almost immediately after the boy was born, his father died, leaving five orphans. So the whole family found itself in a hopeless situation, and Yakiv experienced poverty very early. According to the stories, the boy’s mother took the baby to the church, placed it in front of the icon of the Mother of God and asked for intercession and support on the way of Life.

Yakiv studied at the Tula Seminary and the St. Petersburg Academy, which he graduated from in 1825. On August 22 of the same year he took monastic vows under the name Isydor in honor of the reverend Isidore of Pelusium and was almost immediately ordained a deacon and priest, and approved as a candidate for theologians of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy (since 1826 – master). At the Academy he was enrolled in the position of librarian, which at that time was combined with the position of professor. In the library he compiled catalogs of publications written in ancient and modern languages.

On August 14, 1829, by order of the Holy Synod, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed rector of the Mtsensk Peter and Paul Monastery, and 10 days later he became rector and professor of theology at the Orel Theological Seminary. Isydor, who personally lived through poverty in childhood and adolescence, recognized the same misfortune among his subordinates and sought every opportunity to help them.

In 1833 he was transferred to the Moscow Theological Seminary to the position of rector and professor of theology with the appointment of rector of the Moscow Zaikonospaskyi Monastery (Monastery of the Holy Mandylion). On the way to Moscow, the future metropolitan Isydor met his mother for the last time, who blessed her son with an icon saying the words: “Remember that you yourself were an orphan, so be a protector and helper of orphans.”

At the age of 35 (1834) archimandrite Isydor was ordained bishop of Dmytriv and vicar of the Moscow metropolitanate, and from 1837 he headed an independent episcopal cathedra: the Diocese of Polotsk and Vilna, later (1840) – the Diocese of Mogilev, and in 1844 he became Exarch of Georgia. In the Caucasus, he headed the Kartalynska and Kakhetynska cathedras for 14 years. Everywhere, the right reverend Isydor made many efforts to spread church and school education, to restore the impoverished and desolate Orthodox churches.

In March 1858, Isydor (Nikolskyi) was appointed metropolitan of Kyiv and Halych. In this position, Isydor delivered a speech in which he noted the responsibility of the archpastoral ministry at the ancient cathedra, which was “consecrated by the footsteps of the Apostle Andrew and the exploits of Volodymyr the Equal of the Apostles.”

He paid special attention to pedagogical activities. On August 31, 1859 (the first of the bishops of the former Russian Empire), he took the initiative to establish church-folk schools (later – “church-parish”) and began to actively take care of their arrangement. He initiated the creation of the Svyato-Vvedenskay religious women’s community (in 1901 the community was transformed into the Sviato-Vvedenskyi convent). Even after the transfer of metropolitan Isydor to St. Petersburg, he not only took care of the spiritual condition of this convent, but also supported it financially, gave advice, donated his own icons (one of them, the Boholiub Icon of the Mother of God, is still preserved in the Intercession Convent in Kyiv). At the request of bishop Isydor, a plot of land was allocated in Kyiv for the construction of a cathedral in honor of Prince Volodymyr the Equal to the Apostles.

However, the Kyiv cathedra was headed by bishop Isydor for a short time, and more than half of the entire period was spent by the reverend in St. Petersburg, participating in the affairs of the highest ecclesiastical administration.

On July 1, 1860, Isydor (Nikolskyi) was appointed metropolitan of Novgorod, St. Petersburg, and Finland, a priority member of the Synod. For the next 30 years, His Eminence Isydor headed the St. Petersburg cathedra. He died on September 7, 1892, and was buried in the Church of St. Isidore of Pelusium of the Saint Olexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg.