Biographies Russian Churchmen Patriarch Patriarch Job of Moscow

Patriarch Job of Moscow

Born: circa 1525, Staritsa
Died: 1607, Monastery of the Dormition (Staritsa)

Job was the first patriarch of the Russian church. Born circa 1525, he was originally called Ioann and brought up at the Monastery of the Dormition in the town of Staritsa. He took the habit between 1552 and 1555 and was promoted to the rank of archimandrite after Ivan the Terrible visited the monastery around 1569. Soon after this, he was transferred to Moscow.

Between 1571 and 1580, Job was the abbot of first the St Simon Monastery and then the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. Job’s ascetic lifestyle and expert knowledge of the scriptures and liturgical books led to his appointment to the post of bishop. In December 1586, he was appointed metropolitan of Russia, in place of Dionysius.

In 1588, the eastern patriarchs decided to found a patriarchate in Russia, elevating the Russian Orthodox Church to an independent and equal standing with the other national churches. Job was elected to the post on 23 January 1589 and ordained on 26 January. In 1591, he headed the official enquiry into the death of Tsarevich Dmitry in Uglich. After consulting with the church council and the duma of boyars, the patriarch announced his verdict – the tsarevich had accidentally stabbed himself and not been murdered.

After the death of Tsar Feodor I and the refusal of his wife, Irina Godunova, to accept the throne, Patriarch Job became the head of state in 1598. As he was much obliged to Boris Godunov for his promotion to the post of patriarch, Job offered his candidature as tsar to the Land Assembly (Zemsky sobor). On 21 February 1598, he headed a religious procession to Boris Godunov at the Novodevichy Convent, imploring him to accept the throne.

When False Dmitry I appeared, Patriarch Job denounced the pretender. He declared that the person claiming to be Tsarevich Dmitry was in fact an heretic and defrocked monk, Grishka Otrepiev, while the tsarevich had really died.

After the death of Boris Godunov, Job supported his son Feodor. After the royal family was overthrown by forces loyal to False Dmitry I in June 1605, the patriarch was arrested during a service at the Dormition Cathedral. He was driven on a rough cart to the Monastery of the Dormition in Staritsa, where he was blinded, while his house was ransacked.

Job was succeeded by Archbishop Ignatius of Ryazan and only returned to Moscow following the murder of False Dmitry I, the imprisonment of Patriarch Ignatius at the Monastery of the Miracle and the accession of Basil IV Shuisky. On 20 February 1607, he reappeared at the Dormition Cathedral, where he forgave the people of Moscow and gave them his blessing. He then returned to the Monastery of the Dormition in Staritsa, where he died on 19 June 1607.

Patriarch Job was buried at the Monastery of the Dormition. In 1652, his remains were transferred to the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow. The acts of Patriarch Job include the foundation of the Don Monastery in Moscow in 1591 and the sending of missionaries to the Volga region, Siberia and the Far North. In 1990, he was canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church.

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