Despite the important political changes in the region in the period 1917-1923, the Roman Curia continued to use the name "Russia" for the church province encompassing successively : - the Russian Empire (except Poland) until 1917 - the successor states (except the Baltic States, Finland and Poland) since 1917 - the U.S.S.R. (except the Baltic States) since 1923 Not covered by this page are the hierarchies in East Galicia (West Ukraine) and in South Sakhalin (Karafuto), which in the covered period were considered as Polish and Japanese jurisdictions.
See also RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH for more information on Church history in Russia


Although there were some Catholics in Russia before, it was only after the first partition of Poland in 1772 that the first important communities became subjects of the Russian Empire and that a regular hierarchy was established. (1) (1) The first Catholics present were foreign traders and diplomats for whom a first church was established in Moscow in 1691. Other early groups included German colonists in Southern Russia. Together with the Lithuanians and the Poles these Germans consituted the major part of the adherents. (See also Armenians, Russians and Ukrainians) __________________________________________________________________________________


The Diocese of Mohilev (in Belarus) was erected in 1773. In 1783 it was upgraded to the rank of an Archdiocese, covering the whole Russian Empire, thus making it the largest jurisdiction of the world. Archbishops 1863 - 1872 vacant Apostolic Administrators 1863 - 1871 Jozef Maksymilian Staniewski, Titular Bishop of Plataea in Greacia II 1795 - 1871 1871 - 1872 Jerzy Iwasziewicz, Titular Bishop of Anthedon in Palestina I 1819 - 1876 1872 - 1883 Antoni Fijalkowski 1797 - 1883 1883 - 1889 Aleksander Kazimierz Dziewaltowski-Gintowt 1821 - 1889 1889 - 1891 vacant Apostolic Administrator 1889 - 1891 Apolinary Dowgiallo 1891 - 1899 Szymon Marcin Kozlowski 1819 - 1899 1899 - 1901 vacant Apostolic Administrator 1899 - 1901 Karol Antoni Niedzialkowski, Titular Bishop of Samos in Insulae 1846 - 1911 1901 - 1903 Boleslaw Hieronim Klopotowski 1848 - 1903 1903 - 1905 Jerzy Jozef Szembek 1851 - 1905 1905 - 1908 vacant Apostolic Administrator 1905 - 1908 Stefan Antoni Denisewicz 1836 - 1913 1908 - 1909 Apolinary Wnukowski 1848 - 1909 1910 - 1914 Wincenty Kluczynski 1847 - 1917 1914 - 1917 vacant Apostolic Administrator 1914 - 1917 Jan Cieplak 1857 - 1926 1917 Eduard Baron von der Ropp, continued in office after the revolution (s.b.) 1851 - 1939 SUFFRAGANS In 1798 several suffragans were detached from Mohilev. By 1917 these suffragans - and the territories they covered (2) - were : KAMYANETS The Diocese of Kamyanets was erected in the 14th century and confirmed as a separate diocese in 1798. In 1866 its administration was taken over by the Bishops of Lutsk- Zhytomyr. Its jurisdiction extended over parts of Ukraine. Apostolic Administrators 1866 - 1917 The Bishops of Lutsk-Zhytomir s.b. LUTSK-ZHYTOMYR The Diocese of Lutsk was erected in the 14th(?) century. It was abolished in 1793, but already restored in 1798. It was then immediately united with the newly created Diocese of Zhytomyr. Their jurisdiction extended over parts of Poland and Ukraine. Bishops 1848 - 1883 Kaspar Borowski 1802 - 1885 1883 - 1891 Szymon Marcin Kozlowski s.a. 1891 - 1897 vacant 1897 - 1898 Cyrill Lubovidski 1... - 1898 1898 - 1901 Boleslaw Hieronim Klopotowski s.a. 1901 - 1911 Karol Antoni Niedzialkowski s.a. 1911 - 1915 Longin Zarnovetski 1916 - 1917 Ignacy Maria Dubowski, continued in office after the revolution (s.b.) 1875 - 1953 MINSK The diocese of Minsk was erected in 1798. In 1869 the see became vacant and its administration was taken over by Mohilev. Its jurisdiction extended over parts of Belarus. Apostolic Administrators 1869 - 1917 the Archbishops of Mohilev s.a. SAMOGITIA The jurisdiction of this diocese extended over parts of Latvia and of Lithuania. TIRASPOL In 1847 the separate suffragan see of Tiraspol was erected for the Catholic German colonists that had settled in South Russia - mainly in the Volga region - in the course of the 18th century. (3) Its jurisciction extended over Bessarabia (= Moldova), parts of Southern European Russia (including the Vice Royalty of the Caucasus) and of Ukraine. It was one of the largest dioceses of the world. Bishops (also de facto in charge of some Uniat Eastern communities : Armenians, Chaldeans, and a very small group of Georgians) 1864 - 1872 vacant 1872 - 1888 Franz Xaver Zottmann 1826 - 1901 1889 - 1902 Anton Zerr 1849 - 1932 1902 - 1904 Eduard Baron von der Ropp s.a. 1904 - 1917 Josef Alois Kessler, continued in office after the revolution (s.b.) 1862 - 1933 VILNA/VILNIUS The jurisdiction of this diocese extended over parts of Lithuania. (2) The territories of the Empire not covered by one of the listed suffragans were directly subordinated to Mohilev itself : - parts of Belarus and of Ukraine and Northern European Russia, - Asiatic Russia, including - formally at least - also the protectorates of Bukhara and Khiva, - Estonia, Finland and part of Latvia. (3) Before that the Germans had been under the care of : - 17.. - 1... their own preiests - 1... - 1803 priests of the Baltic provinces - 1803 - 1820 Jesuit missionaries - 1820 - 1847 Polish priests. The seat of the bishop was Saratov on the Volga, but the Diocese was named Tiraspol, after the capital of the ancien Diocese of Kherson (14th century) __________________________________________________________________________________


After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 the hierarchy described above at first continued to exist. Later, the establishment of successor states led to some major modifications (4) and by the end of 1925 the formal structure of the Catholic Church in the U.S.S.R. was : - Archdiocese of Mohilev (the major part of the Russian S.F.S.R., parts of the Belarussian S.S.R. and of the Ukrainian S.S.R.) Suffragans - Kamyanets (parts of the Ukrainian S.S.R.) - Minsk (parts of the Belarussian S.S.R.) - Tiraspol (parts of the Russian S.F.S.R. and of the Ukrainian S.S.R., the whole Transcaucasian S.F.S.R.) - Zhytomyr (parts of the Ukrainian S.S.R.) - Diocese of Vladivostok (s.b.) This formal structure didn't however reflect the real situation of the Church in the area. As a consequence of the ongoing wars and of persecutions the bishops all had left the territory of the future U.S.S.R. by 1920. Other members of the clergy and believers also were persecuted, jailed, expulsed or executed and by 1921 the hierarchy had actually been destroyed, only some parishes - mainly in major cities where there was an important foreign presence (Leningrad, Moscow, Vladivostok, etc) and in the German territoires of the Volga - continuing to be tolerated. The period of the N.E.P. (New Economic Policy) brought some relief and the Holy See then started negotiations with the Soviet government for a possible restoration of a hierarchy acceptable to the government. But nothing came of it and consequentlty the Curia established an "underground" hierarchy of regional Apostolic Administrations, without however formally abolishing the existing archdiocese and dioceses. (5) The structure of the Church in the U.S.S.R. established in 1926 : - the Archdiocese of Mohilev (united with the Diocese of Minsk, restored in 1917) de facto divided into the "underground" Apostolic Administrations of : - Kazan, Samara (actually detached from Tiraspol) and Simbirsk - Kharkov - Leningrad - Mohilev and Minsk - Moscow - the Exarchate of the Russian Catholics. - the Diocese of Kamyanets de facto an "underground" Apostolic Administration - the Diocese of Tiraspol de facto divided into the "underground" Apostolic Administrations of : - the Armenian Catholics - the Caucasus - Odessa - Tbilisi and Georgia - the Volga - the Diocese of Zhytomyr de facto an "underground" Apostolic Administration - the Diocese of Vladivostok (s.b.) It didn't take long for the Soviet authorities to discover and to dismantle the underground jurisdictions and by the end of the 1930's the Catholic communities had been virtually annihilated, the major - if not only - remnant being the Parish of Saint Louis des Français of Moscow. (6) Taking advantage of the occupation of parts of the U.S.S.R. by the Germans and their allies in 1941 - 1944 the Holy See did an attempt to restore an hierarchy in the occupied areas : - in German occupied Belarus (part of Ostland) and in the adjacent area's under military rule, the Apostolic Administration of Mohilev and Minsk - entrusted to the Archbishops of Lithuanian Vilnius - was revived. While it achieved some results in the military territories, its activities were a complete failure in Ostland, where there was a strong German opposition to the presence of Catholic priests, some of them even being arrested. - in the Romanian occupied zones of Bessarabia and Transnistria (a part of Ukraine) an independent Mission of Transnistria was established in 1942. Apostolic Visitor of the Mission of Transnistria 1942 - 1944 Markus Glaser, Titular Bishop of Caesaropolis in Macedonia II, (1943), arrested by the Soviets 1880 - 1950 Both jurisdictions disappeared at the Soviet reconquest. (4) Changes in the period 1918 - 1925 : - the following communities were detached from the direct authority of the Archdiocese of Mohilev : - the communities in Estonia, Finland and Northern Latvia, - communities in Asia, forming the new Diocese of Vladivostok (s.b.) - the Diocese of Kamyanets was detached from Lutsk-Zhytomyr (1918) - the united Diocese of Lutsk-Zhytomyr now covered territories in Poland (Lutsk, Pol.: Luck) and in the Soviet Ukraine (Zhytomir). In 1925 it was formally divided into two separate dioceses. - the Diocese of Samogitia was transferred to Latvia and Lithuania - the Diocese of Tiraspol lost the communities in Bessarabia to Romania. - the Diocese of Vilna was transferred to Lithuania and Poland (5) They actually only were underground until 1930-1931 when the names of their incumbents were published in the Annuario Pontificio. Although they later all became vacant, these jurisdictions formally continued to exist until the early 1990's, being listed for the last time in the Annuario Pontificio of 1991. (6) Saint Louis des Français of Moscow In 1786 the Russian government granted the important French community in Moscow the right to establish its own catholic parish of Saint-Louis des Français. The parish was under the protection of the French Embassy and gradually became one of the most important of the country. It survived the revolutions of 1917 and became even more important after Moscow had again become the capital and the residence of Western diplomats in the 1920's. Vicars (since the revolution) 1913 - 1921 ... Vidal 1921 - 1926 none. Management of the Church taken over by a Mrs. Alice Ott, assisted by a Polish priest for spiritual and ritual matters. 1926 - 1945 The Apolstolic Administrators of Moscow s.b. MOHILEV AND ITS APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATIONS Archbishops of Mohilev and Bishops of Minsk 1917 - 1939 Eduard Baron von der Ropp, arrested in 1919, left the country the same year s.a. Apostolic Administrator 1919 - 1926 Jan Cieplak, Titular Archbishop of Achrida in Bulgaria Occidentalis (2x), arrested and sentenced to death in 1923, expelled in 1924 s.a. 1939 - 1991 vacant Apostolic Administrators of Moscow The Apostolic Administrators of Moscow were the senior of the Administrators : they had the right to appoint another administrator in case of vacany, were in charge of possible relations wih the Soviet government, etc. Moscow was the only administration that survived until 1945, mainly because its incumbents also were Vicars of the Parish of Saint Louis des Français, and as such were tolerated by the Soviet authorities. 1926 - 1936 Pie Eugène Joseph Neveu, Titular Bishop of Citrus in Macedonia I 1877 - 1946 1936 - 1945 Leopold Maria Braun*, Chaplain of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and Chaplain (sometimes "Protector") to the American Catholics in Moscow and in the U.S.S.R. (possibly the only tolerated Catholic official in the non-occupied part of the U.S.S.R. 1941 - 1944) 1903 - 1965 Apostolic Administrator of Mohilev and of Minsk 1926 - 1981 Boleslaw Sloskans, Titular Bishop of Cillium in Bizancena, arrested in 1927 and exiked to the Solovski islands until 1930, again exiled 1930 - 1933, expelled 1933 1893 - 1981 Apostolic Administrator of Kazan, Samara and Simbirsk 1926 - 19.. Michal Jodokas, arrested in 1929, ..., again arrested in 1934 (still listed as a prisoner in 1937),... 1891 - 1959 Apostolic Administrator of Kharkov 1926 - 1937 Wincenty Ilgin, arrested in 1926, exiled to the Solovski islands, expelled 1933 1886 - 1937 Apostolic Administrator of Leningrad 1926 - 1935 Antoni Malecki, Titular Bishop of Dionysopolis in Frigia Pacaziana II, briefly arrested in 1927, again arrested and exiled 1930 - 1934, expelled 1934 1861 - 1935 KAMYANETS Bishops 1918 - 1926 Petr Mankowski, left the country in 1920, resigned in 1926 1866 - 1933 1926 - 1991 vacant Apostolic Administrator 1926 - 1959 Jan Swiderski, arrested in 1930, expelled 1932 1876 - 1959 TIRASPOL AND ITS APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATIONS Bishops of Tiraspol 1917 - 1929 Josef Alois Kessler, left Russia in 1920 s.a. 1929 - 2002 vacant Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus 1926 - 1938 Johannes Roth, arrested in 1930 and exiled to Kazakhstan,,..., again arrested in 1936 and executed 1881 - 1938 Apostolic Administrator of Odessa 1926 - 1937 Aleksander Frison, Titular Bishop of Limyra in Licia, under strict police surveillance 1926 - 1929 and 1931 - 1933, arrested 1929 - 1931 and since 1933, executed 1873 - 1937 Apostolic Administrator of the Volga 1926 - 1937 Augustyn Baumtrog, arrested in 1930, ... 1883 - 1937 Apostolic Administrator of Tbilisi and Georgia 1926 - 1938 Stefan Demurow*, arrested 1937 and executed 1871 - 1938 VLADIVOSTOK The Catholic communities in Eastern Siberia were established in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries by German, Lithuanian and Polish migrants or exiles. They were at first subordinated to the Archdiocese of Mohilev, but in 1923 - as a consequence of the particular political situation in the Russian Far East - some coastal regions and the northern part of Sakhalin island were detached from Mohilev and organized into the exempt Diocese of Vladivostok. (7) (7) This seems to been have preceded by the creation - at least on paper - of a separate Apostolic Vicariate of Siberia - encompassing all of Russian Asia - in 1921. Likewise, the Apostolic Administration of Western Siberia - detached from Siberia in 1926 - seems also to have existed on paper only. (All information on this subject will be very welcomed) Bishops 1923 - 1933 Karol Sliwowski, exiled 1933 1848 - 1933 1933 - 2002 vacant The last priest of Vladivostok was executed in 1935 and like elsewhere in Russia the Church had been liquidated in the Far East by the end of the 1930's. ZHYTOMYR Bishop of Lutsk-Zhytomyr 1917 - 1925 Ignacy Maria Dubowski, left the country in 1920, leaving Vicar General Teofil Aleksander Skalski (1877 - 1958) in charge s.a. Bishops of Zhytomyr 1925 - 1991 vacant Apostolic Administrator of Zhytomyr 1926 - 1958 Teofil Aleksander Skalski, arrested 1926, expelled 1932 s.a.


In 1850 a Diocese of Artvin - subordinated to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia - was erected for the Uniat Armenian Catholics in the Caucasus region of the Osmanli Empire. When this area was ceded to Russia in 1878, the Russian government - attempting to end the union with Rome - suppresed the diocese and united its territory with the Catholic see of Tiraspol. The Holy See refused to endorse this situation and after 1888 considered the see vacant, allowing however the bishops of Tiraspol to take care of the management of the daily affairs in 1912. Following the reaogenization of 1926 an Aposltolic Administration for the Armenians was created. It seems to have survived until the early 1940's. __________________________________________________________________________________


Bishops of Artvin 1859 - 1878 Antoine Halagi 1795 - 1883 1878 - 1888 Hovhannes Zacharian, not recognized by the Russian government after 1878 1858 - 1888 1888 - 1972 vacant Apostolic Administrators of the Armenians 1926 - 1930 Agop Bagaratian, Titular Bishop of Cucuse in Armenia II (1928) arrested and forced to resign in 1930, 1872 - 1936 1930 - 1931 Dionisij Kalatozov* 1... - 1931 1931 - 19.. Karapet Dirlughian*, arrested and exiled 1936 - 1940, (8) (8) He was still listed as acting Apostolic Administrator in the Annuario Pontificio of 1961, although nothing had been heard from him since early 1940. As at that time he already was in his 70's, he most probably was deceased by 1961 ...


A moveement for the union of the Russian Orthodox Church with Rome appeared at the end of the 19th century, but it was however only after the passing of a resolution on religious tolerance in 1905 that a small community of Uniat Russians emerged. Except for a brief period in 1908 - 1909 - when it formed an independent mission - it was under the direct authority of the Archbishops of Mohilev until 1917 when an Exarchate for the Russian Catholics was established. This Exarchate ceased to function after the Bolshevik revolution, but it was restored in 1926 as one of the "underground" jurisdictions, subordinated to the Apostolic Administration of Moscow. Like all other communities the Russian Catholic also disappeared in the 1940's in Russia itself, only surviving in the diaspora, mainly in Australia, China and the U.S.A. __________________________________________________________________________________


Head of the Mission 1908 - 1909 Aleksey Evgrafovich Zerchaninov 1847 - 1933 Exarchs 1917 - 1935 Leonid Ivanovich Fyodorov, arrested and exiled to the Solovski 1923 - 1926, confirmed as Exarch in 1926, again arrested and exiled 1926 1879 - 1935 1935 - .... vacant Bishop of the Russian Catholics (resided in Rome - mainly concerned with the communities in the diaspora) 1936 - 1958 Aleksander Evreinov, Titular Archbishop of Parium in the Hellespontus 1... - 1958


Part of the Orthodox communities in Belarus and in Ukraine united with Rome in 1595 when these territories were under Polish-Lithuanian rule. After the incorporation of the area into the Russian Empire the jurisdictions that had been established (under the authority of the Metropolitans of Kyiv) at first continued to exist. But in the early 19th century the Russian authorities gradually started reintegrating the communities into the Russian Orthodox Church and in 1838 the union with Rome was formally dissolved and the Uniat hierarchy suppressed. The community however survived in the West (Austria and later Poland) where Lviv now became the major center. After the annexation of the Polish parts of Belarus and Ukraine to the U.S.S.R. in 1939 Andrey Sheptytskyj, Metropoltian of Lviv (1865 - 1944, Metr. : 1900 - 1944) unilaterally extended his jurisdiction to the East and divided the whole U.S.S.R. into four exarchates (Belarus, Greater Ukraine, Russia and Siberia and Volhynia- Polissia-Podlachia-Chelm) (9) These new jurisdictions didn't however survive the persecutions (1939 - 1941 and since 1944) and WWII and by 1946 the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy had once again ceased to exist in the U.S.S.R. (9) The action of Sheptytskyj was only confirmed by the Roman Curia after some hesitation. Taking advantage of the German occupation of Ukraine - and despite German opposition - Sheptytsky very briefly succeeded to extend Uniat activities as far as Kyiv. German opposition to Catholic activities in the east was based on the fact that : - Hitler considered the whole area as an exclusive Orthodox territory and wished it to stay so, - Minister Rosenberg - in charge of the occupied Eastern territories - was a viruent anti-Catholic, - the Vatican refused to formally endorse the German "crusade" in the East __________________________________________________________________________________


Exarchs of Belarus 1939 - 1942 Antoni Niemancevicz arrested by the Germans 1893 - 1942 1942 - 194. ... Exarch of Greater Ukraine 1939 - 194. Josyf Ivanovych Slipiyj 1892 - 1984 Exarch of Russia and Siberia 1939 - 194. Clement Sheptytskyj (possibly also for the Russian Catholics since 1935) 1869 - 1951 Exarch of Volhynia-Polissia-Podlachia-Chelm 1939 - 194. Mykola Charnetskyj 1884 - 1959