Peter Mogila

Metropolitan Peter (Romanian: Petru Movilă, Ukrainian: Петро Симеонович Могила, Polish: Piotr Mohyła; 21 December 1596 – 1 January [O.S. 22 December] 1647) was an influential Ruthenian Orthodox[1] theologian and reformer, Metropolitan of Kyiv, Halych and All Rus' from 1633 until his death.

Petro Mohyla
Mohyla Petro.jpg
TitleMetropolitan of Kyiv and Halych and All Rus',
Exarch of Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Born(1596-12-21)December 21, 1596
DiedJanuary 1, 1647(1647-01-01) (aged 50)
Resting placeDormition Church (Kyiv Cave Monastery)
Senior posting
Period in office1633-1646
Consecration7 May 1633 in Dormition Church, Lviv
PredecessorIsaia Kopynsky
SuccessorSylvester Kosiv
Previous postArchimandrite of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Petro Mohyla coat of arms
Saint Peter Mohyla
Petro Mohyla- big.jpg
Metropolitan of Kiev, Halych and All Rus',
Exarch of Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Born(1596-12-21)December 21, 1596
DiedDecember 22, 1646(1646-12-22) (aged 50)
Venerated inUkrainian Orthodox Church, Romanian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Polish Orthodox Church
FeastJanuary 1, but also October 5


Peter Mogila was born into a Moldavian boyar family—the Movilești—one that gave Moldavia and Wallachia several rulers, including his father, Simion Movilă, Prince of Moldavia; his great-grandfather too was Lord of Moldavia, Petru Rareș. Peter Mogila's mother, Marghita (Margareta), was the daughter of a Moldavian logothete, Gavrilaș Hâra.[2][3][4] Peter Mohyla's sister Regina married prince Michał Wiśniowiecki, and their son Jeremi Wiśniowiecki was Mogila's nephew and supporter even though he himself changed the faith to marry a Roman Catholic princess and to inherit the Polish crown.

After his father's murder in 1607, Peter and his mother sought refuge in Ruthenian Voivodeship, part of Lesser Poland.[5] For a time, they lived in Kamianets-Podilskyi, but in 1608 they moved to Stanisław Żółkiewski's castle, where they stayed for sixteen years.[6]:100 There he started his formal schooling, which, prior to the arrival to the castle, was often interrupted by frequent moves. Peter’s teachers were monks from the Lviv brotherhood (see Bratstvo) and later, he continued his studies of classical literature in Latin, Greek, Polish, Old Slavic and Old Belorussian languages at the Academy in Zamość, founded in 1594 by Polish Crown Chancellor Jan Zamoyski. Later Mogila continued his studies in Paris.


Ukrainian stamp
Moldovan stamp

In the 1620s, Mogila traveled to Ukraine which at that time was in a political turmoil due to internal and external factors, in part due to Poland’s annexation of Ukrainian lands. He started preparing spiritually at his aristocratic home in Rubiejovka, where he also founded a church dedicated to Saint John the New from Suceava. He then settled in Kyevo-Pechers’ka Lavra in Kyiv(Kyiv Pechersk Lavra), which was the political, cultural, spiritual, and educational center of Ukraine. There he joined Job Boretsky, Zacharias Kopystensky, and Pamvo Berynda, and a group of scholars and orthodox clerics who promoted ideas of national liberation and cultural self-preservation. The effects of political instability affected all spheres of life in the country. The number of printed publications was significantly reduced and many schools were closed. In order to preserve their privileges before the Polish king, the nobility, in great numbers, started to convert from Orthodoxy to Greek and Roman Catholicism.[6]:102 The Romanians from Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania[7] belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Old Church Slavonic was used, until the 17th century, as the common liturgical language in Romanian principalities. In 1632 Mogila became the bishop of Kyiv and abbot of Pecherska Lavra. Because of his ties to several European royal homes, the leadership of the Orthodox clergy entrusted him to negotiate with the Polish Sejm (parliament) and the king to lift the repressive laws against the Orthodox Church and to ease the restrictions on the use of the Church Slavonic language in schools and public offices. Mogila’s diplomatic talent paid off. King Władysław IV reinstated the status of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.[6]:103 The first years as abbot Mogila showed that he had far-reaching goals to reform not only the monastic life at the Lavra and the Church. He wanted to strengthen the Orthodox spirituality and enhance the sense of national identity as well as raise the educational level in the country and in all Russian and Romanian lands to equal that in Western Europe.

One of the first steps in implementing this vision, Mogila founded at the Lavra a school for young monks (1632). The tutoring was conducted in Latin. The students studied theology, philosophy, rhetoric, and classical authors. At the same time, Mogila significantly improved the print shop at the Lavra where Orthodox books were published not only in Old Slavic but in Latin as well and distributed to various places in eastern Europe. Later that year, Mogila merged this school with the Kyiv Brotherhood school and created the Mogila collegium which later became known as the Kyiv Mohyla Academy (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy).[6]:105 The students at the collegium had diverse backgrounds. They came from noble, clerical, gentry, Cossack and peasant families. The school offered a variety of disciplines: Church Slavonic, Latin, Greek, and Polish languages; philosophy; mathematics, including geometry, astronomy, music and history. Because of the high profile of the faculty, the collegium received the status of a higher educational establishment.

In the next few years, Mogila established a whole network of schools around Ukraine as well as the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy in Vinnytsia and collegium in Kremenets. Also, he supplied the prince of Wallachia, Matei Basarab, upon his request, with a printing press and printers. In 1635 the prayer books which were published in Prince Basarab’s monastic residence were widely distributed in Wallachia, (later to become Romania), and Ukraine. He helped to establish the school in Iași in Moldova as well.


The complex of the Dormition Church in Lviv, known as the "Romanian ("Wallachian") Church".
Trebnik published by Peter Mohyła
Great catechism by Peter Mohyła
"Arctos of the Russian heaven..." (mentioning of Collegia of Kijouo Mohilaeni)

For over 20 years, Mogila played a leading role in Ukraine’s book printing.[8] He was one of the first to print in the Ukrainian language. Mohyla and his followers at the Lavra and the Mohyla collegium made the first steps in formulating the fundamentals of the modern Russian and Ukrainian languages. The proliferation of the Ukrainian language in print was part of a wider effort of Ukraine’s struggle for sovereignty and cultural self-preservation. Mohyla wanted to preserve the Ukrainian nation’s identity that had been experiencing enormous pressure from the Polish and Lithuanian regimes. He initiated the publication of sermons for the laity in Ukrainian, Biblical texts in Church Slavonic, and scientific books in Ukrainian, Polish, Greek, and Latin. Mohyla wrote several books which were distributed in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Muscovy, Romania, and Georgia. One of his most important publications was the first Orthodox Catholic Catechesis worldwide (1640), written by him on the request of all Orthodox Catholic churches. After it was approved by several Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople it became the foundational document for the Church doctrine in the orthodox world.[9][10]:106 During the 17th and 18th centuries, this book had 25 editions. His other notable works included Trebnyk or Euchologion (1646). It resembled an encyclopedia in which all Ukrainian church rites and services were systematized. In this, he did much to preserve the purity of Orthodox ritual.[11]

A decade earlier, he published his Anthologion in which he emphasized the need for teachers to find unique approaches to each student when teaching since their abilities varied. Applying the same requirements to all students may not be the most effective teaching method. Mogila stressed the need for students to ponder over and understand and not simply repeat scientific, religious, and moral truths.[10]:107 In this and other works, Mohyla underscored the need for the younger generation to use their minds and not emotions in striving to achieve goals.

In his Triodion (1631), Mogila expressed his political views about what an ideal ruler should look like. He argued that the person has to maintain peace with the neighbors; defend his lands in the times of war; a ruler is not only obligated to issue laws but first of all he should limit his own powers.

Project of a Polish nobleman of the Greek religion (1645) a Latin manuscript printed firstly in 1928 presents his "Project of Union" consisted of his own acceptance of the divine Primacy of the Roman Pontiff, while observing that the legitimate rights of the Eastern patriarchates must be respected by the West.[12]


Mogila’s innovative approach in reforming the education system by introducing Latin in the curriculum of schools and universities met some resistance when Ruthenian loyalists resorted to violent acts against teachers and educational facilities where Latin was taught. However, Mogila remained undeterred in his efforts to make the use of Latin in schools obligatory since it was an essential part in the curriculum in all European schools and universities. One of Mogila’s main arguments in favor of Latin was that students who learn it in Ukraine would have an advantage should they decide to continue their studies in other European universities, since Latin was practically the lingua franca of the scholarly world.

Historic preservation was another aspect of Mogila’s multifaceted career. He initiated substantial restoration projects of key historical monuments in Kyiv and around the country. Among them was the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. People believed that for as long the Cathedral was standing the city would be spared from destruction. Thus by restoring St. Sophia and other monuments, Mogila, on the one hand, strengthened the Ukrainian Church’s position, and on the other, his efforts were a morale booster for the whole country at a times when national unity and independence were at risk.[6]:109

Peter Mogila died in 1647, on the eve of the national liberation war of 1648-1654. In his testament, he instructed that all Ruthenian people be literate and all his property be given to the Mogila collegium which for nearly two centuries remained the only higher education establishment in the Orthodox world. The school became an important scientific, educational, cultural, and spiritual center of Orthodox world, especially Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Its graduates propagated ideas of humanism and national self-determination. After the Cossack Hetmanate became part of Russia, graduates helped Nikon to introduce the Ukrainian Orthodox faith to Russians to have the common faith in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.[relevant? ] Many of graduates pursued their careers in Western Europe but many traveled the countryside and taught in villages and towns. According to the Christian Arab scholar Paul of Aleppo, who in 1655 traveled through Ukraine to Moscow, “Even villagers in Ukraine can read and write …and village priests consider it their duty to instruct orphans and not let them run in the streets as vagabonds.”[13]:155

Thus Peter Mogila is credited with laying the foundation for a cultural epoch which historians call the Mogila period. One of the attributes of this epoch was book publication. Despite the political instability in Ukraine in the late 1600s, it had 13 printing presses, of which 9 were Ukrainian, 3 Polish, and 1 Jewish. The output of these presses was not only of a religious nature. For example, in 1679 the press in Novhorod-Siverski put out over 3 000 copies of various textbooks for elementary schools.[13]:155 This was a tremendous achievement due in part to Mohyla’s efforts to spread literacy among all social groups.


Monument to Peter Mohila by Boris Krylov and Oles Sydoruk

He is venerated as a saint in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Polish Orthodox Church. His feast day is January 1, but he is also commemorated October 5 together with the other sainted Metropolitans of Kyiv.

The Greek Orthodox Church has tended to be more suspicious of Peter Mogila, some believing him to be too influenced by trends in Roman Catholic theology. The Orthodox Church in America is also suspicious of Peter Mogila, but nevertheless they list him on their website as a saint.[14]


See alsoEdit


  • Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, University of Toronto Press, 1988
  • (in Ukrainian) Українська педагогіка в персоналіях – ХІХ століття / За редакцією О.В. Сухомлинської / навчальний посібник для студентів вищих навчальних закладів, у двох книгах// «Либідь», - К., 2005, кн. 1., стор. 100-110
  • (in Ukrainian) Довідник з історії України. За ред. І.Підкови та Р.Шуста. — К.: Генеза, 1993.
  • (in Ukrainian) Гайдай Л. Історія України в особах, термінах, назвах і поняттях. — Луцьк: Вежа, 2000.


  1. ^ Kollmann, Nancy Shields (2016). The Russian Empire 1450-1801. Oxford University Press. p. 422. ISBN 9780191082696.
  2. ^,%20stefan.pdf Testamentul], p.129, at (in Romanian)
  3. ^ Ştefan S. Gorovei, Miscellanea, AIIAI, XIX, 1982, p.670-672
  4. ^ Femeile Moldovei at (in Romanian)
  5. ^ "Mohyla, Petro".
  6. ^ a b c d e Українська педагогіка в персоналіях – ХІХ століття / За редакцією О.В. Сухомлинської / навчальний посібник для студентів вищих навчальних закладів, у двох книгах// «Либідь», - К., 2005, кн. 1.
  7. ^ "The Romanians".
  8. ^ "Mohyla, Petro". Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  9. ^ "Petro Mohyla | Orthodox theologian". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  10. ^ a b Українська педагогіка в персоналіях – ХІХ століття / За редакцією О.В. Сухомлинської / навчальний посібник для студентів вищих навчальних закладів, у двох книгах// «Либідь», - К., 2005, кн. 1.
  11. ^ Graham, Hugh F. (1 August 2018). "Peter Mogila-Metropolitan of Kyiv". The Russian Review. 14 (4): 345–356. doi:10.2307/125890. JSTOR 125890.
  12. ^ The original manuscript was kept in the archives of the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and published for the first time in a work by Ed. Smurlo (1928) and again by A.G. Welkyi in 1964. A French translation is provided by B. Dupuy in ISTINA (Jan-March 1990).Likoudis, James. "Peter Mohila's Testimony to the Primacy of the Pope". Archived from the original on 2012-10-24.
  13. ^ a b Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, University of Toronto Press (1988).
  14. ^ "The Orthodox Faith - Volume III - Church History - Seventeenth Century - Saint Peter Mogila". Retrieved 2019-08-17.

External linksEdit

Religious titles
Preceded by
Isaia Kopynsky
Metropolitan of Kyiv, Halychyna and All-Rus
Succeeded by
Sylvester Kossov
Preceded by
Zakhariy Kopystensky
Archimandrite of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Succeeded by