Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
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Metropolitan Valentine 
of Suzdal and Vladimir 
First-Hierarch of Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church

Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir (in the world Anatolij Petrovich Rusantsov) was born on March 3, 1939 in the Belorechensk town, Krasnodar region. His father died because of war wounds, mother became seriously ill, and Anatoli was sent to a orphange, from which he was taken as an adopted son to the family of Ekaterina Buriak, a member of the Catacomb's Christian Chyrch.

In 1952 in the course of pilgrimage around the sacred places of Georgia region in the former USSR, Anatolij met old monks who gave to him a mainstream in his life. In 1956 he leaves for the city of Odessa, for the Saint Assumption monastery, where he met Archbishp Nestor (Anisimov) well-known as a Missionary to Kamchatka, who for a long time was a bishop of one of the Far-East eparchies of ROCA. Together with him he heft for Novosibirsk eparchy and was appointed as a psalmreader in the village of the Great Uluj of Krasnojarsk region.

At Anatolij's request, the Archbishop Nestor sent him to Holy Spirit monastery of city of Vilnius. In 1958 he became there a monk named Valentine. He was tonsured by Archimandrite Seraphim (Smykov) who was ordained to priesthood by Metr. Anthiny (Khrapovitski). In 1960 he became a priest (he was ordained by Archbishop Anthony of Stavropol and Baku, who was made a bishop by Patriarch Tikhon) and afterwards he fulfilled his pastoral duty in Stavropol and Vladimir eparchy. In 1970 he obtained a diploma of the Historical faculty of Dagestan University, in 1973 he graduated from Moscow Theological College, in 1979 he graduated from Moscow Theological Academy and obtained the Ph.D. degree. 

In 1973 Archimandrite Valentine came to serve in Suzdal as superior of the Kazan church. He regenerated the parishs life and attracted young people to the Divine services, using his diplomatic abilities and influence to protect church life from the interference of the atheist authorities. However, in 1977 the authorities forced the community to leave the church which was situated on the citys Trade square and move to another, more distant location. From that time until now Archbishop Valentine has carried out Divine services in the Emperor Constantine church of the city of Suzdal. He has passed all these years in unceasing labour to arrange church life in its struggle both with the atheist authorities and with the leadership of the MP, which frequently tried to limit the archimandrite in his efforts to create a strong community of believers in Suzdal instead of a showcase for tourists.

In 1988 the authorities and the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate raised a persecution against Archimandrite Valentine, first of all for his unhypocritical utterances concerning the lack of religious freedom in the USSR during a lecture tour to America. In spite of numerous protests by believers, Archimandrite Valentine was retired and it was proposed that he be exiled to a remote village. Having encountered cynicism and lies in the highest ranks of the Moscow Patriarchate in the course of these events, Fr. Valentine decided to leave the MP, since it had unalterably set out on the path of trampling on the holy canons. He was followed by the believers and clergy of his parish. On April 7, 1990 the departure of the Suzdal believers from the Moscow patriarchate was completed. On April 11 they were received under the omophorion of the Russian Church Abroad, and on October 4 Archimandrite Valentine was appointed exarch of the ROCA on the territory of the USSR.

On February 10, 1991, in the church of St. Job the Much-Suffering in Brussels, which was a memorial to the Holy Royal Martyrs, Archimandrite Valentine was consecrated Bishop of Suzdal and Vladimir. The consecration was carried out by bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, among them Bishop Gregory Grabbe, who had for many years assisted the great first-hierarchs of the ROCA and who rendered priceless assistance in the formation of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Church.

The labour of Bishop Valentine directed towards the strengthening of the Russian Church, the building up of her internal life, and the firmness of his position in relation to the MP attracted to him both the hatred of the patriarchate, the atheists and the agent-politicians, and the envy of many of his brethren in the episcopate of the ROCA, who had lost their former spirit of zeal for God. There began a series of invasions of the canonical territory of the Suzdal Diocese, attempts to tear parishes away from it and to compromise its president. The Synod of the ROCA set about examining denunciations of the most absurd content, if they were directed against Bishop Valentine. In July, 1993, Bishop Valentine was uncanonically and without any explanation retired by a decision of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCA.

In these circumstances Bishop Valentine took very energetic steps to protect the resurgent Russian Church from destruction. Without interrupting his efforts to re-establish links with the ROCA, he created, in March, 1994, the Higher Church Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church (as stipulated by the order number 362 of Patriarch Tikhon of All Russia), which took measures to regulate the situation in the dioceses which had been de facto abandoned to the will of fate by the clerical leadership of the ROCA. These measures were ardently supported by the people of the Church, who saw in Bishop Valentine their reliable and wise leader. By a decision of the HCA Bishop Valentine was raised to the rank of Archbishop.

In the winter of 1994 a temporary cease-fire with the Synod of the ROCA was effected at the Council in the Lesna monastery, thanks to the readiness of Archbishop Valentine (who, as a result of the upheavals he experienced at this council fell seriously ill) to make huge compromises in the name of ecclesiastical peace. However, soon the insincerity of the foreign bishops was revealed, and in February, 1995 they heaped anticanonical bans on the Russian hierarchs. In connection with this, in June, 1995 the Temporary Higher Church Administration of the Russian Church was re-established under the leadership of Archbishop Valentine. It decided to put an end to the administrative and canonical submission to the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCA in view of the numerous canonical violations that had been introduced into the system. In 1996 the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was created. In this way the Russian Church finally defined its independent canonical existence as a self-governing part of the local Russian Church, for which the main credit must go to Archbishop Valentine. On the Synod meeting on March 2/15, 2001 it was decided that the head of ROAC should be in the rank of Metropolitan.

In spite of his poor health (he has diabetes, heart problems, feet problems, etc.), Metropolitan Valentine administers all the affairs subject to his jurisdiction as Hierarch and First-Hierarch: he defines the general political course of the Church, cares for the setting in order of parish life and the selection of worthy candidates for the priesthood, protects the heritage of the Church before the civil authorities, pays the most careful attention to the development of spiritual education and a theological school in the Russian Church, teaches his flock by means of instructive epistles, watches over, and often personally takes part in, the restoration of church building restored to the Church. His day starts at 4 A.M. Vladyka daily carries out Divine services in the churches of Suzdal and regularly carries out pastoral trips throughout Russian and beyond its boundaries. Metropolitan Valentine pays great paternal attention to the education of children in the Sunday school attached to the St. Constantine cathedral.

As unofficial data I can say that our dear Vladyka is really very good. People either like him very much or (fewer)  hate him. But no one can remind indifferent, because his personality is very strong and unusual. Many more good things can be said about him.

Archbishop Theodore
of Borisovsk and Sanino

In the world Vladimir Alexandrovich Gineyevsky. He was born on April 5, 1955. in the Kuban in Otradnaya stanitsa. In his childhood he was surrounded by catacomb Christians. In 1972, in Makhachkape, he got to know Archimandrite Valentine (Rusantsov) and became his spiritual son and irreplaceable assistant over many years. In 1973, he followed Fr. Valentine to Suzdal, where he was appointed reader in the Kazan church. In 1976 he was tonsured into monasticism. He was later ordained as hierodeacon and priest of the St. Constantine cathedral in Suzdal, and then was raised to the rank of abbot. He took a most active part in the labours of Archimandrite Valentine in the regeneration of church life in Suzdal.

In 1989, after the beginning of persecutions against Archimandrite Valentine, he signed a petition asking to be retired, and then, together with Archimandrite Valentine and the Suzdal believers, transferred to the Russian Church Abroad. He was raised to the rank of archimandrite, became secretary of the Suzdal Diocesan Administration, and had undertaken great labours to regulate the life of the diocese.

On March, 19, 1994, in accordance with a decision of the Temporary Higher Administration of the Russian Orthodox church, he was consecrated as Bishop of Borisovskoye and Sanino, a vicariate of the Suzdal Diocese. The consecration was not recognised by the Hierarchical Council of the ROCA. After the Lesna Council of the ROCA in December, 1994, the foreign bishops recognised his consecration and invited Bishop Theodore to a session of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCA in New York, where anticanonical bans were unexpectedly placed on Archbishop Valentine and Bishops Theodore and Seraphim. At the diocesan assembly of the Suzdal Diocese and the sessions of the THCA, it was decided to cease submission to the Hierarchical Council of the ROCA in view of its anticanonical line. From 1996 he was secretary, and then chancellor of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Archbishop Theodore is ardently loved by the believers for his kind and simply manner and unfailing affectionateness. He bears a huge load of administrative work in the diocese and the Synod, helps Archbishop Valentine in all his labours, and carries out numerous pastoral journeys.

Archbishop Seraphim
of Sukhumi and Abkhazia

Vladyka Seraphim is a catacomb bishop. Most part of the year he travels all around Russia, Georgia and other places visiting his parishes. He is always silent, and he is very modest and simple.

Almost nothing is know about him. He was under the omophorion of Schema-Bishop Peter (Ladygin) (+1957) in his youth, and at one time he was with Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky (+1988)

It is known that he he grew up in catacomb parishes in the Caucasus. Since that he is a very good climber. In spite of his age, he helped fix roofs in Suzdal. He walked along the roof ridge without the rope slings, and when he needed to go back, he just jumped, turned back and walked in the opposite direction.

He knows the book of psalms and the text of church services by heart. He always prays and he makes wooden crosses for new monks. 

Archbishop Victor 
of Daugavpils and Latvia

Born in 1944.  In 1988 was tonsured into monasticism. On June 21, 1995 was consecrated a bishop. 

Archbishop Victor it the head of Latvian Autonomous Orthodox Church in Jurisdiction of Synod of ROAC. Latvian Church is persecuted very much from the Latvian government, that wants all Orthodox parishes to go under Constantinople. Many times church members were taken to the police. Also the city authorities try make them to remove crosses from the church building.

Vladyka Victor has 10 parishes in Daugavpils, Riga, Tukumsa and Jurmala. They are building a Cathedral of St. Vladimir in Daugavpils and a monastery of Protection of Mother of God in Tukumsa .


Bishop Anthony 
of Yaransk

  Vladyka Anthony is a catacomb bishop.

Bishop Hilarion
of Smeli

Vladyka Hilarion is a catacomb bishop in the Ukraine. 

Bishop Timothy
of Orenburg

In the world Anatoly Alexeyevich Sharov, he was born on October 3, 1954, in a peasant family in the village of Ivanovka, Orenburg province, and graduated from the historical department of the Orenburg pedagogical institute. In November, 1989, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gabriel of Khabarovsk (MP). He served in the town of Magadan, and did a correspondence course in the Moscow Theological Seminary. He and his community were received into the Free Russian Orthodox Church in 1991. Archimandrite Timothy witnessed before the Church of God to his striving, with the help of God, to serve the Church even to confession and martyrdom, firmly standing for the truth, for the purity of the Orthodox faith. On November 24 2000 in the St. Constantine church, Archbishop Valentine, together with Bishops Theodore, Seraphim, Victor and Anthony, carried out the hierarchical consecration of Archimandrite Timothy.

Vladyka Timothy is serving in the village of Ivanovka, Orenburg province, in a small church built by him and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. He publishes an educational leaflet and sometimes send articles for Vertograd-Inform Information bulletin.

This picture was done in the day of his consecration. That is why he looks a little bit strange. As a rule he looks very concentrated.  

Bishop Amvrose
of Khabarovsk

In the world Nicholas Victorovich Epiphanov, he was born on January 29, 1963 in the city of Vyazniki, Vladimir province, and studied in the Gorky Medical Institute. Then, in 1989, he graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary, and on August 28, 1988 was tonsured into monasticism by Archimandrite Eulogy, at that time prior of Optina desert. He was ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Barnabas of Chelyabinsk (MP) on October 10, 1988, and to the priesthood on November 8, 1989 by Bishop Gabriel of Khabarovsk (MP). From 1989 to 1996 inclusive he served as the superior of churches in the cities of Ussuruisk, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, and in the churches in the Astrakhan and Krasnodar dioceses of the MP. On June 10, 1996 he was retired in accordance with his own petition. On coming to understand the unrighteousness of sergianism, and the uncanonicity and heretical nature of the Moscow Patriarchate, he broke communion with it. On April 29, 2000 he petitioned to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church.

On November 26, 2000, in the cathedral church of St. Constantine there took place the consecration of Archimandrite Ambrose (Epiphanov) as Bishop of Khabarovsk, a vicariate of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC. In his sermon at his naming Archimandrite Ambrose thanked God Who by His ineffable Providence had led him out of the dead antichristian ecumenist false-church into His holy persecuted Church, which has preserved the purity of the faith in woods and thickets, in houses and basements, in mountains and deserts, in prisons and exile the true Russian Church, which has steeped the Russian land in the blood of its martyrs, and has filled Paradise with holy confessors and the earth with holy relics. Vladyka besought the help of God and the prayers of the Church, which are so necessary to him in the work of gathering the lost sheep deceived by the false church into one flock, the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Bishop Geronty
of Sukhodolsk

Bishop Geronty (Ryndenko) was born on May 4, 1946 in the village of Smirnovka, Sumy province (Ukraine). He graduated the University. In 1995 he was tonsured into monasticism and ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Lazar (Zurbenko). Later Hieromonk Geronty along with several priests applied to be received to ROAC. 

On January 24 / February 6 2001 in the St. Xenia church in the city if Sukhodolsk (Ukraine), Archbishop Valentine, together with Archbishops Theodore and Bishop Hilarion  carried out the hierarchical consecration of Archimandrite Geronty.


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