Archbishop Nikon of Washington and Florida
Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky) of Washington & Florida was born at Borki, Chernigov in the Russian Empire to the family of a priest. Archbishop Nikon graduated from the Chernigov Theological Seminary and then from the University of Kiev, where he received a law degree. His practice of the law was interrupted by the revolution; he served faithfully in the White Army, and was evacuated from Crimea with his family in 1920.
After the Revolution he moved to Yugoslavia and was the editor of a Russian‐language newspaper in Belgrade. He was tonsured a monk by Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky), First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood that same year; in 1946, he emigrated to the United States, and in 1948 was consecrated Bishop of Florida. Over the years of his vicariate, and especially under the tutelage of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), Archbishop Nikon have a powerful influence over the growth and development of the Eastern American Diocese, particularly overseeing the establishment of new churches.
He traveled extensively throughout the Church Abroad, and was a longtime professor at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. He wrote extensively, especially for missionary purposes, and culminated his works with the Biography of Blessed Anthony, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia.
It was during his work with the materials of the Blessed Anthony that he became involved with the legal matters of the succession and the role of Orthodox Monarchy.
After the bitter and public rift between the remaining male dynasts of the House of Romanoff in 1969, Archbishop Nikon called for the unity of Russians abroad behind the rightful succession of Grand Duke Kirill, Grand Duke Vladimir, and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, which he never questioned.
Several important works by Archibishop Nikon relate to this question: they are published here.
THE SURE PATH TO THE RESTORATION OF RUSSIA
Archbishop NIKON (Rklitzky) of Washington & Florida
'My Work in the Vineyard of Christ', vol. 1, pp. 391-395
PART ONE: ON THE OBLIGATION OF THE CHURCH HIERARCHY TO INDICATE THE LAWFUL TSAR
A letter to the editor of the newspaper 'Novoe Russkoe Slovo' (‘The New Russian Word’) from September 22, 1970
In connexion to the letters printed in the secular and ecclesiastic press regarding the Dynastic Question, I consider it my obligation to remind the Russian people of the point of view of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Anthony, the senior-most Russian hierarch and founder of the Russian Church Abroad, regarding this question. In 1929, in his articles in the 'Tsarist Herald' (#63 from October 14/27, 1929 (see: Biography of Metropolitan Anthony, vol. 9, pp. 261-265), Vladyka Anthony wrote: 'If we do not accede to both rebellions of 1917, i.e. neither the aristocratic or February rebellion, nor the soldier’s… or October rebellion, then we must recognise that, in accordance with the laws, in accordance with ancient wisdom and the example of the previous Sovereigns, the late three Alexanders and two Nicholases, the Heir receives imperial authority on his own, i.e. directly from the Lord Provisor, without any election, for the election of the line of the Romanoffs with its inheritance to the tsardom occurred in 1613 by the Great Assembly of the Land in Moscow, whose decision was not repealed by any legitimate authority, nor can it be repealed.'
'Our people will keep faith with no other authority save the authority of our divinely anointed Russian Tsar, but will submit to various military and civil leaders only as imperial proxies, which the Apostle Peter taught to all of Christendom: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well" (I Pet. 2:13-14).
'You see, not only imperial authority itself, but all other human authority as well (not referring here to the ecclesiastical) receives legitimacy not by popular votes, but by imperial mandate. And exactly what relevance does ecclesiastical authority have to all this? It is obliged to indicate the lawful Tsar to the people and to call the people to obedience. So did the Ancient Prophets Samuel, Eli, and Elisha; so did our Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church: Metropolitans Peter, Alexis, and Jonah. So even I, a sinner, do undertake to do, having been left the senior-most hierarch in the All-Russian Church after the death of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, in accordance with the resolutions of the All-Russian Church Council of 1918.
'Long have I been silent and have not raised my pastoral voice to the Orthodox people, but now, understanding that I am already drawing near to my exodus, I undertake to repeat the words of the Chief Shepherd: "I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)
'And so, fathers and brothers, I beseech you, forswear completely the thrice-cursed revolution against God and the Tsar and give yourselves over in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit to our lawful Tsar Cyril Vladimirovich and His lawful Heir Vladimir Kirillovich.'
(See: vol. IX of ‘Biography’, pp. 257-259)
PART TWO: ON THE RUSSIAN MONARCHY FROM THE ECCLESIASTICAL POINT OF VIEW
A letter to the editor of the newspaper 'Novoe Russkoe Slovo' (‘The New Russian Word’) from June 30, 1972
Recently in your pages, the question of the Russian monarchy was debated lively from various points of view, but nothing was said of the principle approach to this question: the religious. However, according to the conviction of the Russian people, Russian tsars reigned ‘By the Grace of God’: every imperial manifest was signified by these words. At the same time, the Church safeguarded the great authority of the Russian tsars. At the divine services, the names of the Reigning Emperor and his family and the reigning House were commemorated. In the Rite of Orthodoxy, celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent, it is stated that Orthodox sovereigns are raised upon the throne by God's particular blessing upon them. The Church was likewise concerned with the seamless transfer of imperial power from the deceased sovereign to the next in the line of imperial inheritance after him, as it is that the struggle for supreme power in a country impends misfortunes for both the government and for the Church, as did happen in our revolution. Toward this end, in all service books, including also in the Holy Gospel, laying upon the altar table, the period of the printing of such a book was designated with these words: ‘For the Glory of the Holy Consubstantial and Undivided Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: under the dominion of our Most Pious, Most Sovereign Great Sovereign, Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich’… further followed the names of the members of the Imperial Family in order of their inheritance of the Throne. At the time of our revolution, after the name of the brother of the Sovereign, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, followed the name of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich.
According to the interpretation of the more authoritative and senior-most representative of the Russian hierarchy, Metropolitan Anthony, after the death of the reigning Emperor, the next member of the Imperial line in order of inheritance of the Throne must take up Imperial authority. In this manner, after the death of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and his brother the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, the Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, without any election, must be honored as the Russian tsars, and after his death, his son, the Grand Duke Wladimir. The spouse of the Russian Tsar, the Tsarina, by the insistence of the Church, must irremissibly be an Orthodox Christian and an example for all spousal subjects of the Tsar, who together with her entire family is to be guardian of Orthodox piety in the country. A clergyman of the white clergy must be married specifically to a maiden, and cannot be a clergyman if he is married to a widow or divorcée. As regards the tsars, such requirements are not demanded by the Church. They are subject to the general matrimonial regulations applicable to laymen. Thereby, the marriage of Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovitch does not strip away his imperial obligations in regards to Russia and his rights to the Imperial Throne. The spouse of Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, as we know, belongs according to her ancestry to the ancient Orthodox Georgian royal line, steeped in traditions sprouting from the Holy Isapostolic Nina, Enlightener of Georgia, and from this point of view, the Orthodox traditions and traditional upbringing of this line is superior to the traditions and upbringing of foreign dynasties, from which the Russian tsarinas had been chosen over the last centuries, converting to Orthodoxy for the sake of the marriage. Consequently, perhaps the imperial palaces did not attain that innate Orthodox spirit which had existed with the tsars and grand princes of the earlier centuries of Russian history, many of whom were added to the choir of the saints.
As concerns the family life of the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, and likewise the upbringing and instruction of his heiress, then this family, which has no association to the Russian revolution whatsoever, can serve as the image of fidelity to the Holy Church, piety, humility, virtue, and goodwill to the people, and likewise knows the modern world well.
Metropolitan Anthony pointed out that the resolutions of the Great Assembly of the Land and Church in 1613 and its oath, designating the House of Romanoff to the Tsarist Throne for time æternal, is binding for all of Russia and that the February and October rebellions of 1917, the coërced abdication of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich from the Throne and their murder could not change the legal framework of Russian life (See: ‘Biography of Metropolitan Anthony’ vol. IX, pp. 265-279).
We will add to this, that every other path impends Russia with new troubles or endless submission to the rule of communism or the collapse of and catastrophe for the state.
After his sudden repose, in 1976, he was buried alongside Archbishop Vitaly in the lower church of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, the completion of which he helped oversee.
Russian Legitimist is grateful for the permission to reproduce the documents in translation above by Mr. Michael Kazimierczak, of the Russian Imperial Union-Order, East Coast, USA.