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The Russian Rite
Transalpine Redemptorists
The Servant of God
Exarch Leonid Feodorov
1879 - 1935

1913 Archairos Rasaphor monk Leontios
1913 Archairos Rasaphor monk Leontios

Early years
Leonid Ivanovich Feodorov was born at Saint Petersburg on 4 November 1879, in an Orthodox family. He lost his father when he was very young, after a serious reverse of fortune. He was brought up by his mother, Liubova Dimitrievna,who spared nothing to give Leonid a good education.

In the autumn of 1890 Leonid entered the second imperial gymna-sium at Saint Petersburg, and when he finished his classical studies he enrolled in the Orthodox Ecclesiastical Academy in 1901. He only stayed two years at the Academy; his lively intelligence led him to sift every question to the roots. The study of church history and of certain writings of the Fathers inclined him more and more toward monasticism, towards the priesthood, and also towards Catholicism.

His professors and his colleagues were perfectly well aware of his Catholic leanings. From time to time they saw him attending the sermons given at the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Catherine, which was an international parish. The parish priest at the time (1901-1905) Father Jan Szyslawski, was very friendly and had a good library that he gladly opened to everyone interested. Leonid had chosen a question involving Catholic dogma for his thesis; he went to Szyslawski and became one of Szyslawski's devoted disciples.

These contacts gave Leonid the desire to go abroad to finish his education, and at the same time his doubts about Orthodoxy were growing stronger. When he asked the permission of the Rector of the Academy, Archimandrite Theophan, the venerable old man answered: "I know where you wish to go, and why. Go, and may God go with you!" Theophan was quite convinced of the truth of Catholicism, but like a number of others he could not bring himself to take the definite step.

At the beginning of the summer of 1902, Leonid left for Rome. He stayed eight days in L'viv, as the guest of the Servant of God, Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky (1865 - 1944), and opened his heart to him. The Metropolitan could appreciate the elevated sentiments of this youth and the rectitude of his intentions; he arranged to meet him in Rome and gave him letters of recommendation. Leonid was already more than half Catholic; his conversations with the Metropolitan con-vinced him.

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