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Biography

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, whose lay name is Grigory Alfeyev, is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, permanent member of the Holy Synod, chairman of the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission, rector of the SS Cyril and Methodius Institute of Postgraduate Studies of the Russian Orthodox Church, dean of the Church of Our Lady The Joy of All the Sorrowful on Bolshaya Ordynka Street in Moscow, dean of the Patriarchal Metochion of SS Michael and Theodore of Chrenigov.

Author of more than 1000 publications, including more than 40 books dedicated to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, Holy Apostles, church fathers and to various aspects of Orthodox dogmatic theology, church history and social issues.

Author of musical compositions for choir and orchestra.

Author of more than 60 documentaries.

Anchor of the “Tserkov I mir” (Church And The World) program on Rossija-24 TV channel.

Childhood And Youth

Grigory Alfeyev was born in Moscow on July 24th, 1966 into a family of intellectuals. His mother, writer Valeria Alfeyeva, raised the son alone.

In 1973 he entered the Gnessins Specialized Music School. He was baptized at the age of 11. At the age of 15, he became a reader at the Church of the Resurrection in the Uspensky Wash. Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechaev) of Volokolamsk and Yuryev was the dean of that church at the time. Soon Grigory Alfeyev became his subdeacon and began to work for the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, which was led at the time by Metropolitan Pitirim.

In 1984 Alfeyev finished the Gnessins School, majoring in violin and composition, and entered the composition department of the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory. His mentor was Professor Alexei Nikolayev.

From 1984 to 1986 Alfeyev served as a conscript in the Soviet Army.

Early Years of Serving the Church

In January 1987 Alfeyev quit his studies at the Moscow Conservatory and became a novice in the Holy Spirit Monastery in Vilnius, Lithuania. On June 19th, 1987 he was tonsured as a monk and on June 21th of the same year ordained deacon by Archbishop Victorin (Belyaev) of Vilnius and Lithuania. On August 19th, 1987, with the blessing of Archbishop Victorin of Vilnius and Lithuania, he was ordained priest by Bishop Anatoly (Kuznetsov) of Ufa und Sterlitamak.

From 1988 to 1990 hieromonk Hilarion served as dean of four parishes in the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania: in the town of Telsiai, and in the villages of Kolainiai, Tytuvenai, and Kaunatava. In 1990 he was appointed dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in Kaunas. As a delegate of the clergy of the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania took part in 1990 in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, which elected Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad as the Patriarch of Moscow.

In 1989 hieromonk Hilarion graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary and in 1991 from the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1993 he completed the postgraduate course of the Moscow Theological Academy at the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

In 1991-93 he taught homiletic and dogmatic theology, Old and New Testament at the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1992-93 he also taught the New Testament at St. Tikhon’s Moscow Theological Institute and Patristics at St. John the Theologian Russian Orthodox University.

In 1993 he received a study placement at the University of Oxford, where, under the supervision of Professor Bishop (now Metropolitan) Kallistos Ware, he worked on his doctoral thesis “St. Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition.” Parallel to that, he studied Syriac under Professor Sebastian Brock. He combined his studies with serving as a priest at the parishes of the Diocese of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate’s diocese in Great Britain and Ireland).

In 1995, hieromonk Hilarion defended the dissertation and was awarded the DPhil degree at the University of Oxford.

In September 1995 Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (presently Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia) invited hieromonk Hilarion to join the Department of External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate. On August 21st, 1997 he became the head of the newly formed Secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations of the DECR.

In 1995-97 he taught Patristics at the seminaries in Smolensk and Kaluga, Russia. In 1996 he taught Dogmatic theology at St. Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska (USA).

From January 1996 to January 2002 he served at the Church of St. Catherine in the Fields in Moscow (the Representation Church of the Orthodox Church in America).

From 1996 to 2004 he was a member of the Synodal Theological Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church.

From 1997 to 1999 he gave lectures in Dogmatic theology at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in New York (USA) and in Mystical theology of the Eastern Church at the Department of Theology of the University of Cambridge (UK).

In 1999 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Theology by the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris for the dissertation “Life and Teaching of St. Gregory the Theologian”.

In 1999-2000 he anchored the daily television program “Mir Vashemu Domu” (“Peace Be With Your House”) on the Russian television channel TVC.

In 1999-2002 hieromonk Hilarion continued to publish articles and books, including the two-volume fundamental monograph “The Holy Mystery of the Church. Introduction to the History and Problematics of the Athonite Controversy around the Name of God”.

On May 3rd 2000 Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad elevated hieromonk Hilarion to the rank of hegumen.

Service as bishop

On December 27th, 2001 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church resolved to make hegumen Hilarion Bishop of Kerch, an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Sourozh.

On January 7th, 2002, on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad elevated hegumen Hilarion to the rank of archimandrite.

On January 14th, 2002 in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, archimandrite Hilarion was consecrated as bishop. The consecration was performed by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitans Yuvenaly of Krutisy and Kolomna, Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Pitirim of Volokolamsk and Yuryevsk; Archbishops Feofan of Berlin and Germany, Alexander of Kostroma and Galich, Arseny of Istra; Bishops Nifon of Philippopolis (The Patriarchate of Antioch), Basil of Sergievo, Alexy of Orekhovo-Zuyevo and Alexander of Dmitrov.

Soon after the consecration, Bishop Hilarion departed for Great Britain.

On July 17th, 2002, the Holy Synod appointed him Bishop of Podolsk, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Moscow, and head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Representation Office to the European international organizations in Brussels.

On May 7th, 2003, the Holy Synod appointed him Bishop of Vienna and Austria and temporary administrator of the Diocese of Budapest and Hungary, while remaining the Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European organizations in Brussels.

From 2003 to 2008, under the supervision of Bishop Hilarion, large scale restoration works took place at the Russian Orthodox cathedral of St. Nicholas in Vienna. The murals of the cathedral were painted by a group of artists led by internationally renown Russian iconographer archimandrite Zinon Theodore. Parallel to that, St. Lazarus Church at Vienna’s Central Cemetery was also restored.

In October 2004 the court case about the belonging of the Dormition Cathedral in Budapest to the Moscow Patriarchate was completed.

On February 1st, 2005, Bishop Hilarion was elected Privat-Dozent of the University of Fribourg in Dogmatic theology.

After Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad was elected to the Moscow Patriarchal See, Bishop Hilarion was appointed Bishop of Volokolamsk, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Moscow, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and permanent member of the Holy Synod. He thus became the successor to Patriarch Kirill as the Chairman of the DECR.

At the same time, he was appointed rector of the newly created Church Graduate School, which now bears the name of the SS Cyril and Methodius Institute of Postgraduate Studies of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since April 14th, 2009, he is dean of the Church of Our Lady The Joy of All the Sorrowful in Bolshaya Ordynka.

On April 2009 at the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin he was elevated by Patriarch Kirill to the rank of archbishop, citing his “appointment to the post requiring permanent participation in the work of the Holy Synod, and his diligent service to the Church of God”.

Since May 28th, 2009, he has been a member of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations.

On February 1st, 2010, Patriarch Kirill elevated Archbishop Hilarion to the rank of Metropolitan citing his “diligent service to the Church of God and in connection with appointment to the post of Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod”.

Since July 26th 2010, he is member of the Patriarchal Council for Culture.

Since February 7th, 2011, he is full professor of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Since March 22nd, 2011, he is member of the Supreme Church Council.

On October 5th, 2011, the Holy Synod appointed him chairman of the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission.

In the same year, he was appointed chairman of the Panecclesial Doctoral Dissertation Council, which was established on the basis of the Institute of Postgraduate Studies. Also in 2011 he was appointed chairman of the editorial board of the “Bogoslovskiye Trudy” (Theological Papers) journal and chairman of the editorial board of the “Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarchii” (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate) magazine.

On December 25th, 2012, the Holy Synod appointed him chairman of the Interdepartmental Coordination Group for teaching theology at higher educational institutions.

On December 26th, 2013, the Holy Synod appointed him to lead the Coordination Center for the development of theological research and studies in the Russian Orthodox Church.

On December 24th, 2015, the Holy Synod appointed Metropolitan Hilarion to be the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Interreligious Council of Russia.

In 2017 he became the head of the United Dissertation Council in Theology of the SS Cyril and Methodius Institute of Postgraduate Studies, St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological University, Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of People’s Economy and State Service. Degrees awarded by the council are recognized by the state in Russia.

Since February 2018 he is President of the Theological Educational and Research Association (NOTA), which brings together the leading Russian universities where theology is taught according to the programs accredited by the state.

Theological and Literary Activities

At the end of the 1980s Alfeyev began to publish articles in the “Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarchii” (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate).

In 1996 his book “The Mystery of Faith: Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church” came out for the first time. Eleven editions in Russia followed, as well as 20 translations into foreign languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Finnish, Serbian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Japanese, Hungarian, Chinese, Czech, Swedish, Estonian, Georgian, Romanian).

In 1998 three monographs dedicated to the lives and teaching of the Fathers of the Church came out: “Life and Teaching of St. Gregory the Theologian”, “St. Symeon the New Theologian and the Orthodox Tradition”, “The World of St. Isaac of Syria”.

In 2001 his book “Christ as the Conqueror of Hell. The Theme of Descent into Hell in the Eastern Christian Tradition” was published.

In 2002, the two-volume monograph by Bishop Hilarion “The Holy Mystery of the Church. Introduction into the History and Problematics of the Athonite Controversy around the Name of God” was published.

In 2008, the first volume of Bishop Hilarion’s hardcover “Orthodoxy” dedicated to the history, canonical structure and teaching of the Orthodox Church came out with the preface by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. In 2009, the second volume came out.

In 2016-2017, a fundamental six-volume work by Metropolitan Hilarion entitled “Jesus Christ. Life and teaching” was put in print. Written in a simple and understandable language, the series takes into account the latest achievements of Biblical studies. It contains a detailed biography of Jesus and a thorough analysis of all his pronouncements, sermons and parables. The person and teaching of the Founder of Christianity are presented in a broad cultural and historical context, which allows one to reconstruct the atmosphere of the period.

In 2017 the book “Apostle Paul. A Biography” was published. In the same year “Catechism. A Concise Guide to the Orthodox Faith” was put out.

In 2018 new books “Apostle Peter. Biography”, “Grace and Law. An Exegesis of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans” and “The Liturgy” were published.

Metropolitan Hilarion’s articles have been published, at various points, in the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate”, “Bogoslovskiye Trudy”, “Pravoslavnaya Beseda”, “Foma” and many other periodicals, as well as in foreign academic and ecclesiastical periodicals.

Music

As a schoolboy, Alfeyev wrote a number of musical compositions, including a cycle of songs for tenor and piano on texts by Federico Garcia Lorca, a sonata for clarinet and piano and a string quartet.

In 2006, after a twenty-year break, Bishop Hilarion returned to composition by writing the “Divine Liturgy” and “All-Night Vigil” for mixed choir, which have since become part of many church choirs’ repertoire.

In the same year he wrote the “St. Matthew Passion” for soloists, choir and string orchestra. The premiere at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on March 27th, 2007, was attended by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, who addressed the audience, and Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia since 2009). Over the past years, the oratorio has been performed more than 100 times in many cities of Russia and around the world.

In 2007 he wrote the “Christmas Oratorio” for soloists, boys’ choir, mixed choir and symphony orchestra.

In 2008, the symphony for choir and orchestra “Song of the Ascent” on Psalm verses was written.

Over the period from 2008 to 2012 the following pieces were composed: cantata “Stabat Mater” for soprano, choir and orchestra; Concerto Grosso for two violins, viola, cello, string orchestra and harpsichord; “Fugue on the B-A-C-H Motif” for symphony orchestra.

Metropolitan Hilarion has written a number of arrangements of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music for choir, chamber and symphony orchestras.

Over the past years, Metropolitan Hilarion’s music has been played regularly under the leading Russian conductors: Vladimir Fedoseyev, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Spivakov, Pavel Kogan, Dmitri Kitayenko, Vladislav Chernushenko, Alexei Puzakov. Metropolitan Hilarion’s music is performed by the leading Russian orchestras and choirs, including the Tchaikovsky Grand Symphony Orchestra, Svetlanov State Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Capella, Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, Sveshnikov Choir, Moscow Synodal Choir, Yurlov Capella, Tretyakov Gallery Choir, Mariinsky Theater Choir, Popov Choral Academy Choir and others.

Among foreign performers of Metropolitan Hilarion’s music are the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Orchestre de Geneve, the Athens Symphony Orchestra, Serbian TV and Radio Orchestra, Colonne Orchestra (France), Hungarian National Philharmonic Choir, Choral Art Society of Washington, Washington Boys’ Choir, National Capella Dumka of Ukraine, Estonian National Academic Choir, New York Virtuoso Singers and many others.

Metropolitan Hilarion is a member of the Russian Composers’ Union.

Metropolitan Hilarion’s musical language is based on the tonal technique with great attention being paid to polyphony. He has created an original genre of Russian spiritual oratorio for choir and orchestra written to liturgical texts with the use of Russian liturgical singing tradition combined with the elements of baroque and 20th century Russian composers’ style

In 2011, together with Maestro Vladimir Spivakov, Metropolitan Hilarion founded the Christmas Festival of Religious Music, which takes place annually in January at the Moscow International House of Music.

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Books

  • Orthodox Catechism
  • Prayer: Encounter with the Living God. New York: SVS Press, 2015.
  • Christ the Conqueror of Hell. The Descent into Hell in Orthodox Tradition. New York: SVS Press, 2008 (in preparation)
  • Orthodox Witness Today. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2006
  • The Mystery of Faith. Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2002
  • The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian. Cistercian Studies No 175. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 2000. Reprint: 2006
  • St Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Reprint: 2005
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Sermons

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Video recordings

23/07/2018

Bach. Ich habe genug. Conductor Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

15/06/2018

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev). Chanting to thee.

30/03/2015

Bach. Passacaglia and Fugue. Conductor Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

13/03/2015

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev). Stabat Mater.

23/01/2015

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev). The Passion According To St. Matthew.

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Audio recordings

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