Circle of Pious Zealots

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Circle of Pious Zealots

 

a circle of laymen and clergy who from the late 1640’s to the early 1650’s were grouped around Stefan Vonifat’ev, confessor to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich. Its members included F. M. Rtishchev; the Novospasskii archimandrite Nikon (later patriarch); Ivan Neronov, senior priest of the Kazan Cathedral; and archpriests Avvakum, Loggin, Lazar’, and Daniil.

The members of the circle were distinguished by their education and were united in their desire to increase the church’s authority and strengthen its influence among the popular masses. The group struggled against the inadequacies and vices of the clergy and sought the revival of church sermons and other means of influencing the masses. As a result of support from the tsar, who paid close attention to the advice of his confessor, the Circle of Pious Zealots became in effect the ruling body of the church. When Nikon became patriarch in 1652 the circle disbanded, and many of its members became active figures in the schism.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.