Commemorated on February 12
Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk (in the world Mikhail Ivanovich
Leontovich), was born 6 November 1784 in the village of Stara Stanzhara in the
In 1808 Mikhail
Leontovich successfully completed the Ekaterinoslav religious Seminary. As the
best student, he was sent on by the Ekterinoslav archbishop Platon to
Peterburg, to the Alexandro-Nevsky Spiritual Academy [in Russia,
"spiritual academy" is higher level of religious training beyond
"seminary"]. Finishing the spiritual academy in 1814 with the degree
of "magister" ["teacher"], he was appointed adjunct-professor
of Greek language.
On 11 March 1817 they
appointed Mikhail Leontovich to the office of secretary of the Academy Building
On 30 July 1817 they
transferred him to the Kiev religious Seminary, to serve in the office of
inspector, as well as professor of Church history and Greek language. When the
Kiev Spiritual Academy opened on 28 September 1819, Mikhail Leontovich became
its first inspector.
On 11 February 1820,
on the eve of the day of memory of Sainted Meletios of Antioch, in the cathedral
church of the Kievo-Bratsk monastery, he was tonsured into monasticism with the
name Meletii. The tonsure was made by the Kiev metropolitan Evgenii
(Bolkhovitnikov). On 22 February 1820 the Monk Meletii was ordained by
metropolitan Evgenii to the dignity of deacon, and on 25 February – to
On 9 August 1821
Priest-monk Meletii was appointed rector of the Mogilevsk religious Seminary
and head of the Kuteinsk Orshansk monastery with elevation to the dignity of
archimandrite. In August 1823 they transferred him to the office of rector of
the Pskov religious Seminary, and on 24 January 1824 Archimandrite Meletii was
appointed rector of the Kiev Spiritual Academy.
In October 1826 the
Holy Synod followed with a decision to appoint Archimandrite Meletii as bishop
of Chigirinsk, a vicar of the Kiev diocese and head of the Zlatoverkh
Mikhailovsk monastery. On 19 October 1826 was his appointment as bishop, and on
21 October 1826 was made the archpastoral consecration at the Kiev Sophia
With a fatherly love
the saint concerned himself about young foster-children, raising them in a
spirit of devotedness to the Church of Christ. The saint had particular concern
for the needy, and widows and orphans. He often visited the imprisoned and
provided them the consolation of Divine-services in the prison-churches. The
saint also was no little concerned about the spiritual nourishment of the
brethren of the Mikhailovsk monastery. With edifying discourse and personal
example he inspired in the monks of the monastery a spirit of true asceticism.
Saint Meletii said: "Humility – is the guarding sword, with which to pass
over earth and hades, to reach Heaven".
In April 1828 Sainted
Meletii received appointment to the Perm cathedral.
himself, the saint was strict also towards others. To prepare chosen candidates
for the accepting of the dignity, Saint Meletii himself wrote for them the so‑called
"Ordinant's Catechism". In August 1831 Saint Meletii was transferred
to the Irkutsk cathedra-seat, with elevation to the dignity of archbishop.
The saint devoted
great attention to the enlightenment of the lesser nations of Russia with the
light of the Gospel teaching. The saint founded churches in the north of
Kamchatka, in the northeast parts of the Irkutsk diocese and along the Aldan
River, on the tract from Yakutsk to Okhotsk. He often reviewed his extensive
diocese, going to the shores of the Okhotsk and Arctic Seas, to the boundary
lines of North America, where there then laboured the reknown Apostle of
Siberia – the Priest Ioann Veniaminov, later known as the Apostle to America
Sainted Innocent (Innokentii, Comm. 23 September and 31 March). Journeying
through Siberia and along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Saint Meletii
frequently interacted with the native peoples who professed Lamaism. The saint
with gentleness urged them to leave behind their errors and he explained the
Gospel truths to these pagan peoples: the Tungus, the Buryats, the Kamchadali,
and also the inhabitants of the Kurile and Aleutian Islands.
With his untiring
efforts the health of the saint began to deteriorate, and they transferred him
in 1835 to the Slobodsk-Ukrainsk cathedra-seat (afterwards the cathedra of
Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk).
And here Sainted
Meletii devoted great attention to the institutions of spiritual learning, and
much concerned himself about the life and education of the clergy.
He raised questions
about the restoration of those monasteries and spiritual schools, which the
empress Catherine II had closed up. The saint also allotted great attention to
the struggle with the schismatics.
On 2 July 1839 Saint
Meletii led the solemnity in the city of Akhtyrk with the 10 year anniversary
of the appearance of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God, named the
The blessed end of
the saint occurred on the night of 29 February 1840. After Communion, with the
words "Now lettest Thou Thy Servant depart in peace", the saint
signed himself with the sign of the cross and, having turned to everyone with
the words "Forgive me", – he expired to the Lord.
On 4 March 1840 Saint
Meletii was consigned to the earth by the Kursk bishop Iliodor within a burial
crypt beneathe the Church of the Cross at the Pokrov monastery.
From the first days
after his death believing people firmly trusted on the intercession of Saint
Meletii before God, and they received the help of grace: healing in sicknesses,
comfort in sorrows and deliverance from difficult circumstances. Believers in
Khar'kov put especial trust in Saint Meletii during the terrible days of the
"Great War for the Fatherland" (World War II). With miraculous advice
the saint predicted the impending deliverance of the city from the enemy.
In 1948, with the
blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei, the coffin with the relics of Saint
Meletii was transferred to the Annunciation cathedral church, where they remain
to the present day, manifesting spiritual recourse and prayerful comfort for believers.
On the day of
affirmation in 1977 by His Holiness Patriarch Pimen and the Holy Synod of a
service with an akathist to sainted Meletii, Khar'kov believers hastened to the
cathedral on a Wednesday evening, there to ask the prayerful intercession of
the saint for the welfare of Holy Church, for peace and for the prosperity of
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.