Novgorod, the second most powerful position in the hierarchy. In both of these capacities, he carried out the programme of the reformers with characteristic determination.
During his tenure in Novgorod Nikon made it clear that, in his opinion, the ultimate responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of Russia lay with the church's leaders, not the secular ruler. For example, in 1652, as part of a campaign to canonise martyred leaders of the Russian Church, he brought the relics of Metropolitan Filipp, already widely recognised as a saint, from the Solovetskii monastery to Moscow. While in Solovki, he publicly read Tsar Aleksei's statement of contrition for the sin of his predecessor, Ivan IV, in ordering Filipp's murder.
Once enthroned as patriarch with the enthusiastic support of the tsar and the rest of the reformers, Nikon acted as though he personified the church. He strove to transform its organisational structure into an effective hierarchical administration with the patriarch at the top and reacted ruthlessly to any sign of opposition from other members of the hierarchy. Like Filaret, he added extensive lands to the patriarch's own domain and, in addition to building or repairing other churches, maintained three important monasteries - the Iverskii, the Krestnyi and the Voskresenskii or New Jerusalem - as his own foundations. A man of imposing appearance, he impressed visiting clergymen with his magnificent vestments, his long sermons and his dramatic manner of celebrating the liturgy. Moreover, beginning in 1653, with the tsar's consent, he began to use the epithet Velikii Gosudar, previously used by only one patriarch -Filaret, father of a tsar and effective head of state.
The long-standing campaign to publish accurate liturgical books and distribute them throughout Russia, however, quickly took a fateful turn. The tsar, the new patriarch and some of their collaborators decided that the best way to revitalise Russian Orthodoxy was to forge closer ties with eastern Orthodoxy, especially the ecumenical patriarchate. In 1649, the latest of a long line of Greek visitors, Patriarch Paisios ofJerusalem and Arseniosthe Greek, a scholar of dubious background including a Roman Catholic education, appeared in Moscow and tried to convince the tsar and Nikon that, in so far as they differed, Greek liturgical practices were authentically Orthodox while Russian usages were erroneous local innovations. To test this claim, a Russian monk, Arsenii Sukhanov, made two journeys in 1649-50 and 1651-53 to investigate the condition of the Greek Church. His findings included a report that monks on Mount Athos had burned Russian liturgical books as heretical and his experiences led him to conduct a bitter debate with visiting Greeks in Moscow in 1650 on the
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