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Alexander (Nemolovsky) of Brussels

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Alexander Nemolovsky

Abp. Alexander (Nemolovsky) of Brussels

His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky) of Brussels was administrator and ruling archbishop of the North American diocese of the Church of Russia during the tremulous times after the Russian Revolutions and Civil War, from 1917 until his return to Europe on June 20, 1922. During his early years in the United States he was an active missionary priest who was consecrated the first vicar of the North American Archdiocese in 1909 as Bishop of Alaska.

He was administrator during the interregnum between the departure of Abp. Platon and the arrival of Abp. Evdokim and again when Abp. Evdokim returned to Russia for the 1917 council. With the rise of the Bolsheviks and the collapse of the church in Russia, Alexander was faced with many problems and enemies: loss of income from Russia, factionalism, and dissident priests. While the majority of the diocese remained loyal to him and supported his becoming the ruling archbishop, in the end the elements of the crisis were too great for him and with the return to the United States of Abp. Platon, he requested Platon to take over as ruling bishop, and then he left for Europe.


Alexander Alexandrovich Nemolovsky was born in the Volhynia Eparchy on August 30, 1876. He was educated in the local parochial schools before entering the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary. He was ordained a deacon on November 18, 1901, and then a week later he was ordained a priest. Fr. Alexander then traveled to the United States where he was assigned to the parish at Catasaqua, Pennsylvania. In turn he served in Reading, Pennsylvania (1906-1908) and Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Jersey City, New Jersey (1908-1909) where he worked actively with the Russian Immigrants House in New York City, aiding immigrants and editing the daily Russian-language paper Russian Immigrant. He also was editor of Svit between 1905 to 1909.

In 1909, he was elected to be the first vicar bishop of the North American Archdiocese by the Holy Synod of the Russian church. In Russia, Alexander was tonsured on November 9, 1909, and then consecrated Bishop of Sitka, Alaska at the St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg. Returning to the United States he traveled extensively through his new diocese, reporting on the developments there in the Russian American Orthodox Messenger. When Apb. Platon left the diocese before the arrival of Abp. Evdokim, he was named the temporary administrator of the North American archdiocese from July 1914 to March 1915. After the arrival of Evdokim, he was transferred in 1916 to Winnipeg, Canada as Bishop of Canada where his efforts were impaired by the activity of Protestant activists. Then, again in 1917 he was called to be administrator of the Archdiocese when Archbishop Evdokim left for Russia.

Leaving Archimandrite Adam Philipovsky to administer the Canadian diocese, Bishop Alexander moved to New York as the fall out of the Bolshevik revolution descended on him and the North American diocese. When it was announced that Archbishop Evdokim was not returning to the United States, the Second All-American Sobor of 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio elected Alexander as the ruling bishop which was belatedly confirmed by Patriarch Tikhon and the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia on August 27, 1920. This made him the first primate to be chosen locally in North America.

Alexander became overwhelmed by the loss of funding from Russia that added to the financial chaos he had inherited, including a debt of $100,000 from Abp. Evdokim. After attempts to raise money locally failed, Bishop Alexander began to resort to mortgaging Church property. This only aggravated the problems. His financial problems also provided cause for his enemies, particularly Fr. John Kedrovsky and the dissident priests supporting him who were attempting to usurp control of the diocese in line with the Bolshevik manifesto. Alexander's lack of understanding of economic and financial matters only aggravated the situation. Additionally, the element of factionalism began to grow in Canada where the immigrants began to split into Russian and Ukrainian factions. Alexander took a strong nationalistic position and did not support his administrator Archimandrite Adam in pursuing the idea of an Ukrainian administration as had been done for Albanians and Serbians. As a result the problem remained, eventually to result in a separate Ukrainian Orthodox church.

In 1921, Alexander participated along with Platon in the ROCOR synod in Karlovtsy, Serbia, where he was confirmed as the primate of the Russian Metropolia in North America.

As financial and factional complications grew, Abp. Alexander decided that it was best for the church that he leave the United States. With the return of Metr. Platon to the United States, Alexander sent a letter on June 7, 1922, to Platon asking that he assume the duties of the ruling hierarch. He then departed from the United States on June 20, 1922, finding himself on Mount Athos for a time and then eventually under Metr. Evlogy (Georgievsky) of Paris, who had broken from the ROCOR and brought his Russian parishes in Western Europe under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Alexander served from 1929 until 1960 as Archbishop of Brussels and Belgium, first of the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe) until 1946, then of the Moscow Patriarchate until his death in 1960.[1]

Preceded by:
Bishop of Sitka
Succeeded by:
Philip (Statvitzky)
Preceded by:
Bishop of Winnipeg
Succeeded by:
Apollinary (Koshevoy)
Preceded by:
Evdokim (Meschersky)
Archbishop of the Aleutians
Succeeded by:
Platon (Rozhdestvensky)
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Brussels (Constantinople)
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Brussels (Moscow)
Succeeded by:


  • Orthodox America 1794-1976 Development of the Orthodox Church in America, C. J. Tarasar, Gen. Ed. 1975, The Orthodox Church in America, Syosett, New York

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