Deacon Andrei Psarev Politics

Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Israel in 1948

I took this photo of Fr. Mefodii (d. 1997) in San Francisco at Geary Boulevard in 1994 at the glorification of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Photo: Pravoslavnaia Rus', no. 19, 1997

Fulfilling Monastic Obedience to the Uttermost

Israeli officials oversaw the transfer of property of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Israel on this day in 1948.

The Soviet Union supported the foundation of the state of Israel. In 1948, Archimandrite Antonii (Sinʹkevich), the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (at that time, there was only one, under the ROCOR), abandoned the missions headquartered in the “new city” of Jerusalem (Israel) and went to East Jerusalem (Jordan). Two monks were left in charge of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission: Archimandrite Meletii (Rozov) and Hierodeacon Mefodii (Popovich). Fr. Meletii was a former head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, who came to the Holy Land in 1907. The future Fr. Mefodii came there in 1934 from a peasant Carpatho-Ruthenian family. Fr. Meletii joined the Moscow Patriarchate, while Fr. Mefodii did not.

On December 1, the military governor of Jerusalem approached Hierodeacon Mefodii, who had been authorized by Archimandrite Anthony – who had left for the Mount of Olives (under Jordan) – to manage the property of the mission on Israeli territory:

“Sir, Hierodeacon Mefodii: We hereby propose that you hand over the keys and all other possessions of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to the representatives of the Orthodox Church, Archimandrite Leonid and the priest Fr. Vladimir, who have arrived from Moscow” (letter of Archimandrite Antonii Sinʹkevich dated July 25/August 7, 1948. Pravoslavnaia Rusʹ Archives, Jordanville, USA).

This note was delivered to Fr. Mefodii by the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate named in it, accompanied by a group of sturdy young men in civilian clothes from the Soviet Embassy and several observers from the Israeli government. Fr. Mefodii flatly refused to surrender the keys of the church building entrusted to him. Then the young men in civilian clothes surrounded Fr. Mefodii and began to beat him. The Israeli observers did not participate in the beating, but did not defend him, either. The law of force prevailed: Fr. Mefodii, beaten unconscious, was thrown into a ditch, the keys to the church were torn from his belt, and the “transfer of property” was effected (Archpriest Victor Potapov, RPTsZ i sudʹby russkoi Palestiny [ROCOR and the Fate of Russian Palestine]).

Later, Israel paid compensation to the Russian Church Abroad for the transferred properties.



Monk Benjamin (Gomarteli), “Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytii nachinai s 1917 goda,” [Timeline of Church Events Beginning with 1917. Part IV: 1939–1949].

V. A. Kuznetsov, Russkoe pravoslvanoe zarubezhnoe monashestvo v XX veke [Russian Orthodox Monasticism Abroad in the 20th Century] (Ekaterinburg, 2015).

Rasaphor nun Ioanna K., “Pamiati archimandrite Mefodiia,” [Archimandrite Mefodii: In Memoriam], Pravoslavnaia Rusʹ 19 (1997).

Relative Link:

Andrei Psarev, “Ownership of Pre-Revolutionary Church Property by the Russian Church Abroad: A Historical and Moral Perspective,” Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad.

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