Avvakum

Avvakum

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Avvakum Petrov (November 20, 1620 or 1621 – April 14, 1682) was a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n protopope
Protopope
A Protopope , or Protopresbyter, is a priest of higher rank in the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches, corresponding in general to the Western archpriest or Latin dean.-History:...

 of Kazan Cathedral
Kazan Cathedral, Moscow
Kazan Cathedral , also known as the "Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan", is a Russian Orthodox church located on the northeast corner of Red Square in Moscow, Russia...

 on Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

 who led the opposition to Patriarch Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

's reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

. His autobiography
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 and letters to the tsar, Boyarynya Morozova and other Old Believers are considered masterpieces of 17th-century Russian literature
Russian literature
Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia or its émigrés, and to the Russian-language literature of several independent nations once a part of what was historically Russia or the Soviet Union...

.

Starting in 1652 Nikon, as Patriarch of the Russian Church, initiated a wide range of reforms
Raskol
Raskol |schism]]') was the event of splitting of the Russian Orthodox Church into an official church and the Old Believers movement in mid-17th century, triggered by the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in 1653, aiming to establish uniformity between the Greek and Russian church practices.-The Raskol:...

 in Russian liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. These reforms were mostly intended to bring the Russian Church into line with the other Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

Avvakum and others strongly rejected these changes. They saw them as a corruption
Corruption (philosophical concept)
In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law...

 of the Russian Church, which they considered to be the "true" Church of God. The other Churches were more closely related to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in their liturgies and Avvakum argued that Constantinople fell to the Turks
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 because of these heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 beliefs and practices.

For his opposition to the reforms, Avvakum was repeatedly imprisoned. For the last fourteen years of his life he was imprisoned in a pit or dugout (a sunken, log-framed hut) at Pustozyorsk
Pustozyorsk
Pustozyorsk was the administrative center of Yugra and Pechora krais of Muscovy and Imperial Russia. It was situated in what is today Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast in Russia....

 above the Arctic Circle before finally being burned at the stake
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

. The spot where he was burned is now marked by an ornate wooden cross.

Despite his end, groups rejecting the changes persisted, and they came to be referred to as Old Believers
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

.

Avvakum's colourful autobiography memorably recounts hardships of his imprisonment and exile to the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

, the story of his friendship and rupture with the Tsar Alexis, his practice of exorcising
Exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

demons and devils, and his boundless admiration for nature and other works of God.

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