Metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa
Assumption Monastery - the residence of the Gothic and Kaf metropolitans.
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Metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa

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In the church issue, Russians do not like to talk about what happened before the so-called “Russian measure”. Especially when it comes to the Crimea they recently proclaimed “Russian Athos”.

It is known that Christianity came to the territory of Crimea in apostolic times. Legend has it that the Apostle Andrew the First-Called preached on the northern coast of the Russian (Black) Sea, even reaching the Kiev Mountains.

When Pope Clement was deported to the Crimea in about 98, he found a large Christian community in Chersonesos, for which he began preaching until his martyrdom in 100 AD. St. Clement is considered the first bishop of the Kherson Orthodox Diocese, with its center in Chersonesos Tavria, which was the oldest in the Crimea.

Christianity also developed in the Bosporus state. The center of the Bosporus Diocese was its capital – Pantikapaion (now – Kerch). The signature of Bishop Cadmus of the Bosporus is under the documents of the Council of Nicaea in 325.

In the 5th century, the Gothic diocese, subordinated to Constantinople, was transferred from the Danube to the Crimea. Its center is the new capital of Gothia, Feo-Doros (Mangup-Calais). But there is a version that the Crimean Goths adopted Christianity before the Danube and from the very beginning were united into a separate diocese.

Metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa
Metropolitan of Gotia and Kafa Ignatius (1715-1786)

Also fragmentary information is preserved about two more dioceses of Constantinople in the Crimea – Sugdaysk, with its center in Sudak, and Fulsk, which in the twelfth century was annexed to Sugdaysk.

By the end of the VIII century, all the above dioceses were promoted to the status of archbishoprics of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And at the end of the XIII century the Orthodox departments of the Crimea rose to the metropolitanate. The history of each of them can be the subject of separate publications.

But this time we will focus on the Gothic metropolitanate, the importance of which increased significantly after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Ottoman Empire in 1475. After the fall of Mangup, the center of the metropolis became the monastery of Panagia (Holy Dormition Monastery) near Bakhchisarai, which arose on the site of the miraculous appearance of the icon of the Mother of God in the VIII century. Not earlier than 1627, the oldest metropolis of Crimea, Kherson, was annexed to Gotha.
The Bosporus metropolitanate was abolished by Constantinople after the conquest of Kerch by the Genoese, so all Orthodox parishes in eastern Crimea were subordinated to the metropolitan of Sugdei. The last time the Metropolitan of Sughd was mentioned was in 1484. And in 1485 (according to other sources – in 1616) the metropolitanate of Sugdei and Ful became part of the newly created Kaf metropolitanate, the center of which became modern Theodosia.

Finally, in 1676, both metropolitanates of the Crimea were united into one – the metropolitanate of Gothia and Kafa of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The firman of Sultan Mustafa III in 1759 contains a list of cities that were under the omophorion of the Gothic and Kaf Metropolitan: Mangup, Kafa, Balaklava, Sudak and Azov.

Thanks to the document in the Crimean Tatar language, published by the historian and ethnographer, the first researcher of the history of the Greeks of the Azov region Theoctist Hartahai, the names and years of the reign of all the metropolitans of Gothia and Kafa are known. These are: Methodius – from November 15, 1673, Neophyte – from May 13, 1680, Macarius – from June 21, 1707, Parthenius – from December 23, 1710, Gideon – from November 25, 1725. The last metropolitan was Ignatius (Gozadinos), who arrived at the department in April 1771.

By this time he was over 60 years old. His arrival at the metropolis coincided with the height of another Russian-Turkish war. The Ottoman authorities, believing Christians to be supporters of their enemy, persecuted them. It came to the point that the metropolitan was forced into hiding. Ultimately, this prompted him to cooperate with the Russian Church.

On June 16, 1778, a petition was submitted to the name of Empress Catherine II by Crimean Christians with a request to relocate to the territory of the Russian Empire. The reason given in the document was the constant persecution of the Christian population by Muslims. On May 21, 1779, the highest diploma was awarded to Metropolitan Ignatius with the award of lands in the Northern Priazovye. Ignatius was accepted in the former rank as Metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa, reporting directly to the Synod.

The resettlement took place in late 1779. This operation was led by the Moscow military leader O. Suvorov. At that time, more than 31,000 Christians left Crimea, including Armenian Christians with Archimandrite Peter Margos and Catholics with Pastor Jacob. 27,000 Christians were forcibly deported by Suvorov because they refused to follow the metropolitan voluntarily. The arrival of Crimean Christians in the Azov region marked the beginning of a city called Mariupol.

Metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa
Assumption Monastery – the residence of the Gothic and Kaf metropolitans.

It is now clear that the resettlement was in fact aimed at undermining the economy of the then still formally independent Crimean Khanate. However, a significant part of the Orthodox population, despite coercion, still remained in the homeland. In 1781, the Greek priest Konstantinos Spirandi arrived in the Crimea to replace Ignatius, who resumed worship in the Assumption Hermitage near Bakhchisarai, in Mangush, in the Church of St. Theodore and in the Church of Our Lady in Bakhchisarai.

After the death of Metropolitan Ignatius in 1786, the metropolitanate of Gothia and Kafa was abolished by the Russian government, and its territory was annexed to the Ekaterinoslav diocese of the ROC. Legally, this happened in 1788.

In the Crimea, St. George’s Monastery (Fiolent) remained the last stronghold of the Patriarchate of Constantinople until 1794, but eventually the Greek monks were forced to leave the monastery, flatly refusing to submit to the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Eugene Buket

Author of cultural materials

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