Metropolitan Evlogy of Paris & Western Europe (1868-1946)

Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky) was a notable figure from the early years of the post-revolution Russian Orthodox Diaspora in Europe, and served as a Hierarch of the Church Abroad in its earliest years, from 1921-1926, during which time he was responsible for Western Europe. This arrangement came to an end, however, when he sadly departed into schism in 1926, after which his problematic personal history no longer intersected with the canonical life of the Russian Orthodox diaspora.

The future Metropolitan Evlogy was born Basil S. Georgievsky, in Somovo, Voronezh, Russia in 1868. After graduating from parochial school, he entered the seminary in Tula, which he completed in 1889, and continued his studies at the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1895 he was tonsured a monk and ordained to the Holy Priesthood, and in 1903 consecrated as Bishop of Lublin. In 1912, Bishop Evlogy was elevated to Archbishop, becoming the administrator of Galician church affairs. From 1914 he was the Archbishop of Volhynia and Zhitomir; and in that capacity, in 1917, Archbishop Evlogy participated in the preparatory commission for the pan-Russian Council that would come to be known later as the ‘1917-1918 Council’. When, after 1918, he was refused permission to return to his diocese, Archbishop Evlogy went into exile in Yugoslavia.

From the time of his exile from Russia (a sad but oft-repeated result of the atheistic revolution), until his sad departure into schism from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1926, Archbishop Evlogy remained in normal canonical status as a member of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, in those early days centred in Sremski-Karlovtsi, Yugoslavia. It was by this Holy Synod that, with the consent of Patriarch Tikhon (who would later be canonised as a saint and confessor), he was given the administration of the parishes of Western Europe. Thus, in 1922, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of Paris and Western Europe in the Church Abroad, by Patriarch St Tikhon. When in due course the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration was dissolved and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad was formally constituted in 1922, Metropolitan Evlogy carried forward in due canonical order as an active part of this administration, including voting on all the decisive resolutions of the Synod, including those relating to administrative restructuring in the emigration.

The temptations of life and authority in the diaspora, however, proved too much for the hierarch, whose increasing attempts to relocate authority under himself eventually demanded the Synod’s limitation of his role to its right canonical limits; and the unfortunate response to this due correction was Metropolitan Evlogy’s departure into schism in 1926, which had the profoundly sad result of splitting apart of a number of the Western European communities (including London). From 1927 to 1931 Metropolitan Evlogy was attached to the Moscow Patriarchate; from 1931 to 1945 he was with Patriarchate of Constantinople; and from 1945 until his death in Paris in 1946, he was again with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Though his legacy was not, ultimately, a happy one, the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe rightly acknowledges his place in its earliest history, in that most tumultuous period of the immediate aftermath of the revolution.