Archbishop Nikodem of Richmond and Great Britain (1883-1976)

Archbishop Nikodem (Nagaieff) lived in London from 1951 until his death in 1976. Initially appointed as Administrator of the parishes in England and Ireland, he was successively appointed, first as Bishop of Preston, then as Bishop and later Archbishop of Richmond and Great Britain.

Nikolai Vasilyevich Nagaieff was born in 1883 in Abo (now Turku in Finland, then within the Russian Empire), where he attended the First Cadet Corps School in St Petersburg and then St Paul’s Military Academy. He was promoted to the Second Battalion of the Infantry Guards, which was stationed at Tsarskoe Selo to guard the residence of the Tsar and future Martyr, Nicholas II. Nikolai Nagaieff fought in the First World War, was wounded in battle, and recovered at a field hospital that was organized by the Tsarina and future Martyr Alexandra, where the Empress herself tended his wounds. As a General in the Russian Imperial Army, Nikolai, for his bravery, was awarded the highest military distinction in Imperial Russia: the Order of St George. During the Civil War, Nikolai was an officer on the staff of General Wrangel in the south of Russia. Afterwards, he was evacuated, first to Constantinople and then to Belgrade, where eventually his wife joined him but, sadly, passed away shortly afterwards.

In the early 1940’s Nikolai Nagaieff joined the Milkovo Monastery and, taking the name Nikodem, was tonsured as a monk in 1943, going on to become an Hieromonk and, for a short time, military chaplain. Fr Nikodem relocated to Germany where he joined the Saint Job Brotherhood and became co-founder of the Munich Monastery, living there from 1944 until 1949. In 1946 he was raised to the rank of Abbot. Fr Nikodem then served as a Parish Priest, first near Paris, then in Geneva. In 1951, Fr Nikodem was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite and, at the age of 68, appointed to London to assist Bishop Nathaniel (Lvov). After Bishop Nathaniel returned to Munich in 1952, Archimandrite Nikodem became the administrator of the parishes in England. In 1954, he was consecrated in Brussels by Archbishop St John (Maximovitch), assisted by three other Bishops, becoming Bishop of Preston, Vicar Bishop of Western Europe. From 1953 until 1962, Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, was under the spiritual leadership of Saint John Maximovitch. Bishop Nikodem worked hard to establish new parishes and, from 1956 to 1959, oversaw the transition of the London parish from the closure of St Philip’s Church in Buckingham Palace Road (which was demolished) to the opening of the new Cathedral at Emperor’s Gate, which was in due course consecrated by Archbishop John. In 1964, Bishop Nikodem was appointed as Bishop of Richmond and Great Britain. In 1968, the Holy Synod elevated Bishop Nikodem to the rank of Archbishop.

Archbishop Nikodem is remembered as a venerable archpastor, who commanded authority and respect, both in Russian and English circles and worked zealously for the pastoral good of his people. He keenly supported missionary work, ordaining converts to the Priesthood, and establishing the missionary Brotherhood of St Seraphim at Walsingham. His very mode of life was grounded in the life of constant prayer, of stillness, and peace of heart. This example of true Orthodox spirituality fired the zeal of many non-Russians who saw in Vladyka Nikodem’s life a model of the Life Eternal which they also sought.

Early in the morning of 17th / 30th October 1976, at the great age of 93, Archbishop Nikodem peacefully reposed in the Lord. Archbishop Anthony (Bartochevich) of Geneva came to London to conduct the funeral service four days later. Archbishop Nikodem is buried in Brompton Cemetery.