Metropolitan Agathangelus, in the world Alexander Lavrentyevich Preobrazhensky, was born on September 27, 1854 in the village of Mogila, Venevsky uyezd, Tula province, in the family of a priest. After finishing
theological school in 1871 he entered the Tula theological seminary, and then, in 1877 (according to another source, 1876), the Moscow Theological
Academy. After graduating from the Academy in 1881 with the degree of candidate of theology, he was appointed teacher of Latin on July 15 in Rannenburg theological school. On December 7. 1881 he was appointed assistant supervisor of the Skopno theological school. On March 7, 1885, after the death of his wife and son, he was tonsured into the mantia with the name Agathangelus. On March 10 of the same year he was ordained to the priesthood. On December 7, 1886 (according to another source, December 4) he was appointed inspector of the Tomsk theological seminary with promotion to the rank of igumen, and on January 20 (according to other source, February 23or 28), 1888 - rector of the Irkutsk theological seminary with promotion to the rank of archimandrite.
On September 10, 1889 Fr. Agathangelus was consecrated Bishop of Kirensk, the second vicariate of the Irkutsk diocese, by Archbishop Benjamin of Irkutsk and Bishop Macarius of Selenginsk in the Irkutsk Ascension monastery. On July 17, 1893 he was appointed bishop of Tobolsk, and April4, 1897 (according to another source, October 4) - bishop of Riga. On May 6,
1904 he was made archbishop. Here he showed himself to be a liberal and humane bishop: thanks to his efforts a large group of young people who had been condemned to death by a military field court were saved. He was present at the Holy Synod and was a member of the Pre-Conciliar Council. On August 13, 1910 he was made archbishop of Vilnius and Lithuania and holy archimandrite of the Vilnius Holy Spirit monastery. On December 22, 1913 he was appointed archbishop of Yaroslavl, and in April, 1917 was promoted tothe rank of metropolitan. Vladyka enjoyed the love of the clergy and laity ofthe Yaroslavl diocese, which he ruled for many years. From 1917 he became a permanent member of the Holy Synod, and on November 28 / December 11, 1917 - metropolitan. On January 25, 1918, Patriarch Tikhon had made him the second candidate for the patriarchal locum tenancy after Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan. On March 6, 1918 he was elected a member of the Higher Church Council.
During the Civil War the people of Yaroslavl rebelled against the Bolsheviks, and although Metropolitan Agathangelus feared the result in the form of fratricidal bloodshed, he nevertheless blessed the insurgents. The revenge of the victorious Bolsheviks was terrible, but they did not touchthe metropolitan, whose authority was too great. However, according to one source, he was exiled in 1919.
In May, 1922, the Patriarch was arrested. Since the first candidate for the post of patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Cyril was in exile, he
handed over the administration of the Church to Metropolitan Agathangeluson May 3/16. However, at this point the schismatic renovationist movement took over the Church administration in Moscow, and sent Protopriest Krasnitskyto Yaroslavl to negotiate with the metropolitan. He placed a number of conditions before the Patriarch's lawful deputy which amounted to his placing himself in complete dependence on the renovationists. Naturally, the metropolitan rejected these conditions. So Krasnitsky returned to Moscow and the renovationists spread abroad the rumour that the metropolitan was occupied "with his own affairs" and "was not hurrying" to fulfil the Patriarch's command.
Levitin and Shavrov write: " Metropolitan Agathangelus' behaviour would indeed have appeared quite incomprehensible if it had not been for one detail: for a month now E.A. Tuchkov and Metropolitan Agathangelus had been conducting secret negotiations. E.A. Tuchkov, whom the [renovationist] Higher Church Administration considered their main support in negotiations with the metropolitan expressed the desire to separate as quickly as possible from
this unsolid institution [the HCA] and support Agathangelus. However, a series of concessions was expected from Agathangelus; he had to declare that he was renouncing Patriarch Tikhon's political line. After a month's negotiations, seeing that no progress was being made, Metropolitan Agathangelus unexpectedly addressed the Russian Church with an appeal [of
June 5/18, 1922, N 214] which was printed by some underground printing-press and very quickly distributed in Moscow and other cities
"E.A. Tuchkov was taken completely by surprise. The HCA was also shocked. Metropolitan Agathangelus was immediately arrested and sent into
exile, to the Narymsk region. However, the appearance of this appeal showed that the unprincipled line of V.D. Krasnitsky was meeting with a sharp rejection in ecclesiastical circles"
On June 5/18, Agathangelus issued an epistle stating that he was accepting the patriarchal locum tenancy and said about the livingchurchmen. "They have declared their intention of reviewing the dogmas and moral teaching of our Orthodox Faith, the sacred canons of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, the Orthodox order of Divine services that were given to us by the great ascetics of Christian piety, and organize in this way a new Church which they call the 'Living Church' Beloved in the Lord Most Reverend Archpastors! Being deprived for a time of higher leadership, you must now
rule your dioceses independently, in conformity with the Scriptures, the church canons and the usual church law, according to your conscience and your archpastoral oath, until the restoration of Higher Church Power And so, beloved children in Christ, preserve the teaching, the ranks and the ordinances of our faith, preserve everything that has been handed down tous, keep hold of the Church of God. Know that those who depart from the Holy Church abandon their Saviour. 'Therefore stand,' says the apostle, 'and keep the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or our epistle.'."
When the metropolitan issued this epistle, he was placed under house
arrest in the Spassky monastery in Yaroslavl (on June 28), and then placed in solitary isolation in prison in Yaroslavl (on August 22). In the autumn he was imprisoned in the inner prison of the GPU in Moscow, and on November 25 he was condemned to exile for three years.On November 28 he was transferred to the Taganka, and on December 28 he was exiled to the remote settlementof Tomi (according to another source, Kolpashevo), Narymsk region, Tomsk province, Siberia, where he was looked after by his niece, Alevtina Vladimirovna Preobrazhenskaya.
On December 25 / January 7, 1924/25, Patriarch Tikhon appointed Metropolitan Agathangelus as the second patriarchal locum tenens. In 1926, on returning from exile, hhe was detained in prison in Perm, where, on April
5/18 he announced that he was taking on the duties of patriarchal locum tenens, as was his right. But Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) resisted him, and on May 27 / June 12 Metropolitan Agathangelus submitted to him "for the sake of the peace of the Church". In 1926 he returned to Yaroslavl.
However, towards the end of 1927 he wrote a letter to Bishop Paul of
Starobela, calling Sergius "a usurper of ecclesiastical power". And he formed the so-called "Yaroslavl group", which declared its break of communion with Metropolitan Sergius on January 24 / February 6, 1928. Although in May of
that year, probably under the influence of Tuchkov, who arrived in Yaroslavl at that time, he displayed some wavering in his attitude towards Sergius,his group remained as a de facto autocephaly until his death, reserving the right not to carry out any instructions that "offended our and the people's conscience and, as we believe, transgress the church canons". Moreover, there is evidence that Metropolitan Agathangelus broke communion with Sergius again that summer. In September, 1928 he wrote a sharp Epistle against Metropolitan Sergius.
According to Schema-Bishop Peter, Metropolitan Agathangelus advised him that if Metropolitans Agathangelus, Cyril, Peter and Joseph should die, he should turn to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), president of the Russian Church Abroad, who was an opponent of Metropolitan Sergius. And when Metropolitan Sergius wrote to him requesting him not to break communion with him and join the ranks of the Catacomb Church, Metropolitan Agathangelus replied with a deafening silence. That Vladyka Agathangelus was never reconciled with Metropolitan Sergius is affirmed by his niece, A. V. Preobrazhenskaya.
Metropolitan Agathangelus died in Yaroslavl (according to another source, Kineshma) on October 3/16, 1928, and was buried in the city's Leontiev cemetery.
(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogoi Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 813, 834-835; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Istoki i svyazi Katakombnoj Tserkvi v Leningrade i obl. (1922-1992)", report read at the conference "The Historical Path of Orthodoxy in Russia after 1917", Saint Petersburg, 1-3 June, 1993; "Katakombnaya Tserkov': 'Kochuyushchij Sobor 1928 g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 3 (7), 1997, pp. 20, 30; Russkiye Pravoslavnye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986; Boris Cherniykh, "Tainstvennij Sunduchok", Grani, 180, 1996; "Svedeniya o Novomuchenikakh v sovremennoj pechati", Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 23 (1572), December 1/14, 1996, pp. 5-6, 15; Lev Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Moscow: Krutitskoye patriarsheye podvorye, 1996, pp. 582-583; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, 1917-1956, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 32-37; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 115, 272; M.V. Shkarovsky, "Istinno-Pravoslavniye na Ukraine", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 48, N 9 (585), September, 1998, p. 12)
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