Avvakum

1620-1682. Leader and martyr of the Raskolniki or Old Believers.* Son of a Russian village priest, he was himself ordained and in his early pastoral activity and his family life showed himself an eager exponent of ascetic piety. He became an intimate of Czar Alexis and at length archpriest of Our Lady of Kazan in Moscow. He opposed the liturgical reforms of Patriarch Nikon* and was deported to Siberia in 1653. After the fall of Nikon he returned in 1664, but was soon exiled again when the czar elected to continue the reforms. The council of 1666 excommunicated Avvakum and established the new liturgical practices. In 1670 his companions were punished by mutilation, and Avvakum condemned to imprisonment underground. He continued to direct the dissidents, and finally Alexis's successor Theodore condemned him and his companions to death at the stake. He is regarded as the greatest saint and martyr of the Old Believers. His autobiography, a masterpiece of Russian literature, is still highly regarded.

See P. Pascal, Avvakum et les d├ębuts du Rasko (1938).