Meletius Smotrytsky


Meletius Smotrytsky : biography

– 1633

Canonization Discussion

During Josaphat Kuntsevych’s beatification in 1637, Meletius Smotrytsky’s beatification was also discussed because he was a persecutor of the union but changed his position to an ardent defender. Perhaps in order to popularize his candidacy for sainthood, in 1666 James Drought published a biography. The priest was after 1648 in Rome and where it could persuade the relevant authorities to consider the Smotrytsky beatification. Descriptions of supernatural events that took place after the death of Smotrytsky were given by his last confessor. According to his account he was dying to ask you to insert his hand in the coffin of Pope Urban VIII letter informing him of the receipt for the Archbishop of Hierapolis. Uniate monks but forgot about it the first time, and put a letter in the coffin just a few hours after the death of the priest. Then the hand of the deceased had to move and firmly grasp the document. His removal from the hand of the deceased was supposed to be possible only when he stood over the body, Metropolitan of Kiev and demanded the return of the letter. In a later version of the description of the event Kortycki put the information allegedly monks put in the coffin of the letter Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, but this was completely ignored. Kortycki also asserted that before the funeral of a hand holding a letter miraculously renewed, giving the impression of living. Metropolitan Rutski confirmed that the following events actually took place, and even wrote about them for the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in August 1634. On December 19, 1634 this congregation held a meeting during which it was decided that Smotrycki was murdered, and should be canonized as a martyr. The matter was discussed again in July 1635, and in October of the same year, a representative of the Congregation speaking to Rutsky to ask for a copy of the description posthumous miracle. In 1635 a Basilian monk named Isaiah, who was also a participant in the Smotrytsky’s funeral, said the Onoratio Visconti, papal nuncio in Warsaw, that the deceased bishop kept in a coffin two lists – the papal and patriarchal. While the ultimate message of the Congregation stated that Smotrycki finally "rejected" letter of Patriarch theophany, doubts in this regard could be one of the reasons why the canonization process Smotryckiego was suspended.


Smotrytsky is best known for his "Slavonic Grammar with Correct Syntax" (Грамматіки славєнския правилноє Сvнтаґма, 1619), which codified what is now known as "Modern Church Slavonic" or, more specifically, "Meletian Church Slavonic". It was the sole handbook for grammar in Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian lands, and had an enormous impact on the development of these languages. Smotrytsky’s work also contributed greatly to the study of Church Slavonic texts throughout Eastern Europe. The grammar was first reprinted in 1721.


Born in Smotrych, Podilia, Meletius was a son of the famous writer and pedagogue Herasym Smotrytsky. He received his first formal educated at the Ostroh Academy where his father was a rector. The academy is the oldest institution of higher learning in Eastern Europe. Later, he enrolled at Vilnius University and graduated in 1600. After that, Smotrytsky traveled through Europe continuing his education at universities in Leipzig, Wittenberg and Nuremberg.

In 1608, Miletius returned to Vilno where he became a member of a local fraternity. Under his pen name Theophile Ortologue he wrote his famous polemic "Thrynos". Sometime in 1615-18 Smotrytsky was a teacher of Church Slavonic and Latin in the newly established Kiev Fraternity School. Subsequently, he became one of its first rectors. In 1616, he published a Ruthenian translation of "Teacher’s Gospel… of Calisto" and in 1615 in Cologne he published a Greek-language grammar. In 1618, Smotrytsky returned to Vilno where at the Holy Spirit Monastery he took vows as a monk and assumed the name Miletius. There, in the city of Wewis, he participated in publishing "Dictionary of Slavic language" (1618), and later, in 1619, "Slavonic Grammar with Correct Syntax."