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His successor, Peter, moved the historic see of the Rusyn church to Moscow some 26 years later. Born in Halych-Volhynia, Peter strengthened the relationship of the Rusyn church with the grand princes of Moscow, forging an alliance that would lead to the development of a powerful Muscovite church and state, the nucleus of what is today defined as Russia.

For more than a century, Peter’s successors claimed Kiev as a part of its jurisdiction, or metropolia. However, in 1448, Rusyn bishops separated formally into two distinct metropolitan provinces, Kiev and Moscow, which remained in full communion but mark the formal beginning of distinct Ukrainian and Russian churches.

While the church of Kiev remained under the jurisdiction of the ecumenical patriarchate in Constantinople, the church of Moscow declared its autonomy and its special role as the pillar of Orthodox Christianity: “Two Romes have fallen, and a third stands,” declared an influential monk. “A fourth there shall not be.”

Moscow achieved complete independence in 1589, when the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople reluctantly enthroned the metropolitan of Moscow as patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’.

Galicia. Moscow was not the only claimant to the legacy of Kiev. The Rusyn princes of Halych and Volhynia, whose dominions bordered Roman Catholic Hungary and Poland to the west and northwest, forged a united state in the 13th century. For more than a century, Halych-Volhynia (known today as Galicia) rivaled Kievan Rus’ in size and wealth, even as its leaders paid homage to their Mongol overlords.

One such prince, Danilo I (died 1264), opened Halych-Volhynia to Armenian, German, Hungarian, Jewish and Lithuanian merchants, who formed self-contained communities throughout the realm. He strengthened alliances with neighboring Catholic powers and even enlisted the aid of the papacy to ward off the Mongols. Though the churches of Constantinople and Rome were in schism for nearly two centuries, Rusyn Christians in Halych-Volhynia maintained communion with both.

In 1253, Grand Prince Danilo was crowned king by a representative of the pope, despite the Rusyn church’s allegiance to the Orthodox ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople. Three years later, King Danilo founded the city of Lviv, naming it for his son and successor, Lev, who in 1272 made Lviv the capital. In recognition of the kingdom’s capital, the ecumenical patriarch erected a metropolitan see in Lviv in 1303, filling the void created by Metropolitan Maxim’s departure of Kiev for Vladimir just four years earlier.

Halych-Volhynia’s dominance also proved short lived. By the middle of the 14th century, the kingdom’s Lithuanian and Polish neighbors carved it up, seizing Kiev. Though long past its prime, the allure of the city remained. This “mother of all Rusyn cities” continued as the spiritual center of Rusyn Christianity and, after 1375, as the home of the metropolitan archbishop of Kiev, Halych and all Rus’.

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Tags: Ukraine Unity Eastern Christianity Church history Ukrainian Orthodox Church