Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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Biishop Nikon (of Grebe)

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From February 24, 1946 until his departure for the United States in the summer of 1947, Archbishop Nikon (of Grève) was vicar of the Exarchate of the Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe, under Metropolitan Euloge (Guéorguiévsky ), then under Metropolitan Vladimir (Tichonicky). From his consecration, during the period during which the Exarchate was linked to the Moscow Patriarchate (1945-1946), he carried the title of Bishop of Serguiévo.

Baptized under the name of Alexis, he was born on February 6, 1895 in the city of Batumi, province of Kutaisi (modern-day Adjara, in Georgia). He graduated from the Tiflis Cadet Corps, then from the Pavlovsk Military School in St. Petersburg. Officer of the Moscow Guard regiment, he took part in the First World War on the western front, then on the Turkish front. He ended the war with the rank of colonel.

During the civil war, he joined the ranks of the Army of Volunteers in southern Russia, where he was wounded twice.

In 1920, he emigrated to Belgium, then settled in France. He joined the Institute of Orthodox Theology Saint-Serge in Paris among the first, from which he graduated in 1928. In 1927, with two other students, Constantin Struve (future Archimandrite Savva) and Vladimir Kuhlman (future Method bishop), he was at the origin of the creation of the Confrérie Estudiantine Saints-Serge-et-Nikon. On November 29, 1927, in the Saint-Serge church, he was tonsured under the name of Nikon in honor of Saint Nikon of Radonge.

On December 4 of the same year, he was ordained a Hierodeaster by Metropolitan Euloge, and on April 20, 1928, Hieromonk. It served at the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky cathedral in Paris.

In 1928-1929 he was editor-in-chief of the spiritual journal "Feuillets de Saint Serge" (Сергиевские Листки), published by the Brotherhood of Saints Serge and Nikon.

On June 15, 1928, he was appointed rector of the Russian Church of St. Nicholas in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, where he served as a missionary, traveling in often precarious conditions across the country, and was described by Metropolitan Euloge as a responsible pastor and selfless, a man of fiery faith and ascetic spirit. In 1933, he was elevated to the rank of igoumene.

On May 1, 1935, he was reappointed as priest of the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky cathedral in Paris. He also became a catechism teacher at the Lycée Russe in Paris, a position he held until May 30, 1943.

On January 7, 1936, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite.

He was a member of the Diocesan Council under Metropolitan Euloge, participated in ACER congress activities, lectured on Orthodoxy in parishes in the Paris region, including the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Asnières, the church from the icon-of-the-Mother-of-God-Sovereign in Chaville, to the Cossacks museum of the Guard in Courbevoie, to the parish of Saint-Nicolas cathedral in Nice and many others.

During the German occupation of Paris, he served as assistant to Metropolitan Euloge and was interned by the Nazis. After the arrest by the Nazis of the Archbishop of Brussels Alexander (Nemolovsky), Father Nikon was sent to Belgium as a temporary administrator. He was then interim rector of the Saint-Nicolas church in Brussels.

After the end of the war, with Metropolitan Euloge he joined the Moscow Patriarchate.

Based on the exceptionally good recommendation of Metropolitan Euloge, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate elected him Bishop of Sergeyevo.

On February 23, 1946, Archimandrite Nikon was elevated to the rank of bishop at Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky Cathedral in Paris, and ordained the next day. The consecration was chaired by Metropolitan Euloge, in concelebration with Metropolitan Seraphin (Loukïanoff), Archbishop Vladimir (Tichonicky) and Bishop Jean (Léontchoukoff).

From March 15 to October 1, 1946, he directed the parishes of the diocese of Belgium and was rector of the Church of Saint-Nicolas in Brussels.

After the death of Metropolitan Euloge on August 8, 1946, he supported Archbishop Vladimir (Tichonicky) in his plan to return to the omophora of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the title of Bishop of Serguiévo passed for a short period to the Bishop Jean (Léontchoukoff), remained in the Moscow Patriarchate until his rapid return to the Archdiocese.

In 1947, he left the Archdiocese as part of a move to the United States, where he came under the jurisdiction of the North American metropolis, which would later become the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), where in From September 19, 1947, he served in Philadelphia and then, from May 7, 1952, in Toronto, Canada.

From 1959 to 1962, Bishop Nikon served in Japan, where he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Tokyo, then returned to the United States and was appointed assistant to Metropolitan Leonce (Tourkevich).

After the death of Metropolitan Leonce in 1965, Archbishop Nikon was appointed to the vicariate of Brooklyn, and became the keeper of the archives of the Orthodox Church in America.

In 1979, he retired, after which he lived in the Saints-Cosmas-and-Damien retirement home in Staten Island (New York), where he died on June 12, 1983. According to his will, Bishop Nikon was buried in France at the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois cemetery.