Archbishop Nathaniel of Brussels and Western Europe (1906-1985)

Archbishop Nathaniel (Lvov) was Ruling Bishop of the Western European Diocese, including the parishes in Great Britain, from 1946 to 1950; and then served as Administrator of the UK Parishes under Archbishop St John from 1951-1952.

Archbishop Nathaniel (Vasiliy Lvov, prior to his monastic tonsure) was a well-educated and gifted preacher, and an avid apologist for the Orthodox Faith, whose many articles were regularly to be found in Orthodox journals of the Russian Orthodox diaspora. He was born in Moscow on 17th / 30th August, 1906. During the Russian Revolution his family fled to Harbin, Manchuria, where he studied theology at the St Vladimir Institute and was tonsured a monk in 1929. He undertook several missionary trips as the cell attendant of Archbishop Nestor (Anisimov), among others to the Christians of southern India, where they founded a mission and conducted negotiations with the Indian Christians about joining the Church Abroad (1935-36); and upon returning to Harbin, he was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite. In 1939, Archimandrite Nathaniel joined the Brotherhood of St Job of Pochaev in Ladomirovo (Carpatho-Russia).

In 1944, Archimandrite Nathaniel moved to Germany where he established the Committee for Russian Orthodox Emigrants, whose main task was to prevent the enforced deportation of Displaced Persons to the Soviet Union. Thousands of refugees were saved, receiving permission to emigrate to the West. Archimandrite Nathaniel (together with Vladyka Vitaly (Ustinov), the future First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) personally saved many hundreds of refugees from this terrible fate.

Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky) of blessed memory, First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, elevated Archimandrite Nathaniel to the rank of Bishop in 1946, the Holy Synod placing him at the head of the European Diocese with the title of Brussels and Western Europe, succeeding Metropolitan Seraphim in an interim capacity. He served in this office diligently, being especially remembered for his success in obtaining travel permits from the French authorities for the nuns of the Lesna Convent, who had been living in Yugoslavia, thereby facilitating their resettlement in France, where the convent was reestablished.

In December 1950, the Holy Synod assigned Archbishop John of Shanghai (the future Saint John the Wonderworker) to be Archbishop of Western Europe. At this point the parishes in England and Holland were entrusted to Bishop Nathaniel, whose title became Bishop of Preston and the Hague, accordingly. He was named Bishop of Columbia in 1952, but the Church’s needs changed and instead Bishop Nathaniel was sent to North Africa in the same year to administer the Russian parishes there. From 1954, he lived in Germany and cared for the parishes in Mannheim and Berlin. In 1966, Vladyka Nathaniel became the Abbot of the Monastery of St Job in Munich, where he would remain until his repose. Though in 1971 he was provisionally given rule over the Dicoese of Vienna and Austria, and in 1976 appointed its Ruling Hierarch and given the title Bishop of Vienna and Austria, his health was already failing at this stage and in actuality he was barely able to exercise his office. It was this same state of poor health that precipitated his retirement from the Abbacy of St Job’s in 1980. In November of 1981 he was elevated to the dignity of Archbishop by the Council of Bishops.

Archbishop Nathaniel, having been in poor health for many years, reposed in the Lord on 26th October / 8th November 1985 in Munich and was buried in Wiesbaden. He is especially remembered for kindness and love for his fellow man. A five-volume collection of his writings was published by the Russian Orthodox Youth Committee in 1991.