Modern Orthodox Saints and Holy Fathers & Mothers: Ivan Mikhailovich Andreyevsky

by Matthew on October 9, 2012

    “On December 30, 1976, reposed an outstanding churchman and statesman, doctor of psychiatry, pedagogue, lecturer, publicist and author of a series of theological textbooks,” states the introductory line in the Memoriam published in Orthodox Life, about Professor Ivan M. Andreyevsky. He is mentioned often as one of the shining lights of Orthodox theology. His name is often heard together with Archbishop Averky Taushev, Archbishop Vitaly Maximenko, the philosopher Archimandrite Constantine Zaitsev Professor I.M Kontzevitch, Nicholas Talberg, and the theologian Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky.[1]

    Ivan Mikhailovich Andreyevsky was born on March 14, 1894 in St. Petersburg. His father was of Russian descent and his mother, German.[2] He was one of five children, the oldest being his sister, the poetess Maria Shkapskaya. He was raised in a pious family who were poor but seemed to live in relative comfort. Ivan’s mother suffered from paralysis and his father retired early due to mental illness.[3] Ivan entered into a period of “rebellion” during his years of secondary schooling which began in St. Petersburg. It is said that in 1912 in the Wideman Gymnasia, which Ivan attended, a revolutionary group had been discovered and after this Ivan stopped attending that school. The participants of this group were taken under the protection of a millionaire and sent to study in Switzerland.[4] Later, his sister Maria was caught distributing illegal Socialist revolutionary literature when she was in medical school and was imprisoned. Fr. Seraphim (Rose) notes, “The beginning of [Andreyevsky’s] intellectual and spiritual path… is clear: he was an unchurchly, deadly-serious, revolutionary-minded youth…”[5]

    Ivan finished secondary schooling in Switzerland and then went on to study at the Sorbonne in Paris from 1912 – 1914 where he completed his studies in the Department of Philosophy. Of this period he says, “In 1914 I was a young student of the Philosophy Department of the Sorbonne, and I had the right of attending lectures at the College-de-France. There I listened to Lalande and Bergson… Bergson lectured with inspiration, improvised,

Henri-Luois Bergson, 1927

thought out loud, created on the lecture platform, and ruled the minds of the young generation, especially of Russians. I was among the latter.”[6]

    At this stage of Ivan’s intellectual development the editors of The Orthodox Word note that, “the philosophy of Bergson did not leave a deep trace on the mature world-view of Andreyevsky; it was, rather, an important stage in his assimilation of the best of modern ‘wisdom,’ which enabled him later to be a brilliant apologist for the higher wisdom of Orthodoxy.”[7] Andreyevsky admits that Bergson was responsible for drawing his attention to an even more mature philosopher. He says, “Once, after one of his inspired lectures, brilliant in form, Bergson asked those who surrounded him in the corridor: who, in their opinion, was the most remarkable thinker in the world at the present time? Seeing the perplexity of his listeners, he clearly and distinctly said: ‘It is a modest Russian philosopher, Askoldov by name.’ It was extremely flattering for me, a Russian student, to hear such an opinion about a Russian philosopher; but to my shame I had to acknowledge that I heard the name Askoldov then for the first time and knew absolutely nothing about him.”[8]

    After finishing his studies in Paris, Ivan returned to St. Petersburg to study psychiatry at the Psikhonevropatologicheskii Institute, now called the St. Petersburg V.M. Bekhterev Psychoneurological Research Institute, where he graduated in 1918. He had decided to study psychiatry after being “aroused by the depth of the human soul” through his reading of the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.[9]  He then went on to enroll at the University of St. Petersburg where he would study Literature and Philology and at the same time work as a doctor at the Nikolaevsky Military Hospital during the civil war.

Sergei Alexeev Askoldov

    It was at the University of St. Petersburg was, it has been said, that Ivan had “the most important event in his intellectual life.”[10] Here he met up with S. A. Askoldov. Fr. Seraphim explains this influence and resulting impressions, saying, “The nature of the influence of Askoldov upon [Andreyevsky] cannot be understood by reference to the pitiable academic world of today, which is oriented to the passing down of fragmented knowledge and opinions and not a wholeness of world-view. ‘For the first time after Bergson,’ writes [Andreyevsky], ‘I experienced the spiritual awe of contact with a man of genius. I felt that I had found, at last, a real teacher.’ ‘I learned from him true philosophizing.’ Askoldov taught him much about philosophy and introduced him to his own philosopher friends… but more importantly, [Andreyevsky] absorbed from his teacher a whole attitude of mind and soul which was just what he needed for his own further intellectual and spiritual growth. ‘Everything I came to know of what Askoldov had written produced on me an exceptionally powerful impression, because it directly and clearly answered to the deepest questions of my spirit.’

    “Askoldov had a constant ‘will for righteousness and truth… Intellectual dishonesty always evoked in him an explosion of dissatisfaction.’ [Andreyevsky] himself inherited from his teacher this intellectual uprightness that could not tolerate the slightest dishonesty or fakery, whether in philosophy or church life.”[11] However, their relationship was not purely intellectual.Andreyevsky notes a very impressionable moment of their lives together during World War II when, “the two were together in a small wooden house and had nowhere to flee during a fierce bombardment. Andreyev was astonished when Askoldov, in the absence of a priest, asked permission to confess his sins to him in the face of death. ‘I will never forget this confession: a more sincere repentance would be difficult to imagine.’”[12]

    In 1922 Andreyevsky accepted a professorial position at the Petersburg University but was dismissed due to his conflict with the university’s Communist ideology. He then obtained a position as a teacher of literature at a

Ivan and Elena in Jordanville

local high school. In 1924, he was working as a psychiatrist at the Nikolaevsky Military Hospital and during this time he began to take pastoral theology courses that were offered in Petrograd under the tutelage of Father Theodore Andreyev. “After the martyric death of Fr. Theodore Andreyev, Ivan… took care of his wife and daughter Zoya, eventually marrying his best friend’s wife [Elena Sosnovskaya] and even taking his last name as a pseudonym… Thus he was able to help the widow and become a loving father to his stepdaughter [Maria Ivanovna, b. Dec. 19, 1936 d. June 25, 1985], who later in America became a scholar, [poet and writer] in her own right.”[13]

    He studied in Petrograd from 1924 to 1928. In 1926, from the professors that he engaged with, as well as the students, the “Brotherhood of St. Seraphim” was formed. At this time his intellect was maturing. Where before he would write papers as requirements for his course work, now he was in a tight-knit group who had the same vision as he. Together they would now write and speak on those issue of the most pressing importance to the group. He notes: “Bergson, Lossky, Askoldov: these are the three stages of my philosophical development – philosophical, but not religious. On the latter path I had entirely different teachers: Bishop Theophan the Recluse, Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, the Optina Elders, and the ever-memorable Father John of Kronstadt – and then the Philocalia, and, in general, Orthodox patristic literature. With Optina elder Nectarius I engaged in a long correspondence, and with Elder Dositheus I was in personal contact. Twice I had had personal contact with Father John of Kronstadt also. Being taught by them the strictly Orthodox spiritual method (if one can thus express oneself), I made it secure by means of unforgettable impressions of visits to remarkable Russian monasteries (Valaam, Solovki, the Kiev Caves Lavra, Sarov, Diveyevo, Optina Monastery, and others). As a result, the choice became clear to me between the conservative Orthodoxy of Father John of Kronstadt and the ‘modernized’ Orthodoxy of V. Soloviev and his school. Without wavering, I chose the former path.”[14]

St. Seraphim digging the canal around the Diveyevo Convent

    The benefits of this “securing” of Orthodoxy he speaks of later on in life in an article entitled The Psychology and Psychopathology of Old Age saying, “A great consolation in all sorrows of life in mature years, and especially in old age, is the religious feeling that has been preserved. This consolation can give a quiet, calm old age and help one to calmly accept death as a sleep in the hope that eternal life exists in another better world.”[15]

    To what he had been learning Ivan began to “secure” this by making his first pilgrimage: to Diveyevo. There was a “rule” at the Diveyevo Convent, given by St. Seraphim himself, which was to be performed by the pilgrims who visited. The canal around the Convent was to be walked around, with prayer rope in hand, and the prayers to be said were “Virgin Theotokos” one hundred and fifty times, the “Our Father” one hundred and fifty times, then one was to pray for all of one’s relatives and acquaintances, both living and dead. After this, one was to state one’s most heartfelt, most necessary desire which would then be fulfilled without fail.[16]

    With prayer rope in hand, Ivan walked around the canal, performing the St. Seraphim “rule.” He recalls, “I intended to ask for many things, both material and spiritual, but when, at the end of the third circuit of the ditch, I had performed the entire rule and wanted to express my heartfelt desires, something miraculous took place, obviously through the great mercy of St. Seraphim. I was suddenly seized by a very special, spiritual, quiet, warm and fragrant joy; an undoubting conviction of my whole being of God’s existence, and of an absolutely real, prayerful communion with Him. It became completely obvious and clear to me that a petition for anything earthly would be tantamount to the prayer: ‘Lord, leave me and deprive me of Thy wondrous gift…’

    “And within me, I fervently said to the Lord, ‘Lord, do not give me anything; take away from me all my earthly prosperity, only do not deprive me of the joy of communion with Thee, or, if it is possible to preserve it forever in one’s life, then give me a heartfelt memory, give me the means of preserving till death the memory of this present blessed moment of awareness of thy Holy Spirit.’”[17]

Sarov Monastery, 1910

Summarizing his pilgrimage to Sarov, Ivan says, “My whole life changed after my pilgrimage to Sarov Monastery. The Lord took from me, in accordance with my prayer at the [canal], all earthly goods, but preserved forever within me, the memory of that moment when, by His limitless mercy, by the mercy of the Most Holy Mother of God and by the prayers of St. Seraphim, I, a sinner, had the completely undeserved honor to experience within me the quiet, joyful, good, and fragrant breathing of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.’[18] And so, in 1926, we see Ivan at the height of his intellectual as well as spiritual maturity and in the following year the trials began. He even noted this development of himself, in describing his life to his students, saying, “these years of his intellectual and spiritual formation as his full growth from “body” (science, medicine) to “soul” (literature, philosophy) to “spirit” (theology, true Orthodoxy), using the three-fold division of the human personality discussed by St. Seraphim, Bishop Theophan the Recluse and many other Father’s, on the basis of St. Paul (I Cor. 2:14-15, etc.)[19]

    In 1927 Metropolitan Sergius issued his infamous “Declaration.” Andreyev was one of many to be chosen to be part of a delegation in order to persuade Metropolitan Sergius to abandon the Declaration. He noted, “The Metropolitan received us out of order. Finding the reason why we had come, he reaffirmed everything written in the Declaration, and in answer to our convictions called us ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and ‘schismatics.’ Not taking his blessing, we left without obtaining anything.”[20] Soon after, those who did not accept the Declaration saw their churches closed and were imprisoned. Andreyev too was imprisoned, and spent three of his five years of imprisonment at Solovki, from 1929-1931. There is much written about his work at Solovki as a doctor for the inmates treating epidemics of typhoid and scurvy. Many are the stories of the priests and bishops he met and with whom he participated in the Divine services secretly. He writes about the “churches” that were established in the prison camp by the inmates who knew that if they were caught that would be tortured and shot.

Solovki Monastery

    “At Solovki we had several secret Catacomb ‘churches,’ but our ‘favorites’ were two: the ‘Cathedral Church’ of the Holy Trinity, and the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The first was a small clearing in the midst of a dense forest in the direction of the ‘Savvaty’ Assignment area. The dome of this church was the sky. The walls were the birch forest. The church of St. Nicholas was located in the deep forest towards the ‘Muksolm’ Assignment area. It was a thicket naturally formed by seven large spruces. Most frequently the secret services were conducted here, in the church of St. Nicholas. In the ‘Holy Trinity Cathedral’ services were conducted only in the summer, on great feasts and, with special solemnity, on the Day of Pentecost. But sometimes, depending on circumstances, doubly secret services were also celebrated in other places. Thus, for example, on Great Thursday of 1929, the service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels was celebrated in our physicians’ cell in the 10th company. Vladika Victor and Fr. Nicholas came to us, as if for disinfection. Then, catacomb-style, they served the church service with the door bolted.”[21]

    Of his work at Solovki, he writes, “In the year 1929, in the frightful concentration camp of Solovki, beginning with the end of winter there was a great increase of scurvy, and towards spring out of 18,000 prisoners of the fourth division of the camp (the division that occupied the island of Solovki itself), the number of those afflicted reached 5000. I, as an imprisoned physician, was offered, apart from my usual work, to take upon myself the supervision of one of the new scurvy barracks for 300 prisoners.

    “When I came to this barracks I was met by a young Jewish orderly with a very handsome, lively face. He turned out to be a 4th-year medical student. To have such a qualified helper was a great rarity and an immense help.

New Martyr Alexander Jacobson (+1930) commemorated on September 8

Alexander Yakovlevich Jacobson (such was his name) went around the whole barracks with me and showed me all the patients. Concerning each one, he told me in detail his diagnosis and the characteristic traits of the disease. The patients were all in a very serious condition. Rotting and pussing gums afflicted with the sores of scurvy gangrene, an immense swelling of the joints, bleeding from scurvy in the form of blue spots in the extremities – were what came first to the eyes at a hasty examination. At a more thorough examination many of them turned out to have serious complications in the inner organs: hemorrhagic nephritis, pleuritis and pericarditis, serious afflictions of the eyes, and so forth. From the explanations of the orderly I understood that he knew precisely what was what in the symptomatology of diseases, and he made correct diagnoses and prognoses.”[22]

    After serving his time Ivan was deprived of the right to work and had to find employment in various psychiatric clinics in small cities which lasted until the beginning of World War II. During this time he was also a member of the Catacomb Church whose members and hierarchy he had met while at Solovki. In 1944, after the War he moved to Germany where he made contact with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and regarded Metropolitan Anastassy as a friend and instructor.

Ivan in the seminary classroom, 1950’s

    In 1950 he moved to Jordanville where he accepted a professorial position at Holy Trinity Seminary where he was to teach for the next twenty-one years. While there he not only lectured, but wrote several books including: A Short Survey of the History of the Russian Church from the Revolution to the Present Times (1952), A Short Conspectus for a Course of Lectures in Psychology (1960), Orthodox Christian Apologetics (1965), Orthodox-Christian Moral Theology (1966), and A Survey of the History of Russian Literature of the 19th Century (1968).[23] Apart from these books he also authored numerous articles.

    Ivan was also active outside of the church in scholarly and scientific societies. He was director and lecturer on medical subjects at the Pirogov Society which was an organization for Russian physician in the United States. He also gave lectures at the Pushkin literary society. But his most beloved work was with the St. Vladimir Society which aimed at building St. Vladimir’s Memorial Church in Cassville, New Jersey. He was also editor for the St. Vladimir calendar which printed many philosophical and theological articles in defense of true Orthodoxy and documented the origin and history of the Catacomb Church in Russia.[24]

    The end of his life was to come from a cruel blow from the modern world. As he was riding in an elevator in New York City, he was attacked. The injuries he suffered during the attack proved fatal and he remained mostly unconscious for a month before reposing on December 30, 1976.

    Recalling the value of the life and work of Ivan Andreyev, Fr. Seraphim (Rose) notes, we must “strive to understand these giants who have now all but departed, leaving all would-be defenders of Orthodoxy in a very precarious position against the increasingly subtle temptations of an anti-Christian age. Without a broadening and deepening of our Orthodox world-view, without absorbing at least something of the genuine Orthodox teaching of the great men who have handed down Orthodoxy to us – we will scarcely survive.”[25]

[1] See Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2003), 181, 252 and 855.

[2] Neil Cornwell, Reference Guide to Russian Literature (London: Fritz Dearborn Publishers, 1998), 730.

[3] Ibid.

[4] I.M. Andreyev, 57.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “The Path of Prof. S. A. Askoldov,” Orthodox Way (1955) as translated in I.M. Andreyev, 57.

[7] I.M. Andreyev, 58.

[8] “The Path of Askoldov,” 58.

[9] I.M. Andreyev, 59.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “The Path of Askoldov,” 61.

[13] I.M. Andreyev, Orthodox Apologetic Theology (Platina: St. herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1995), 25n. For a short biography on Maria Ivanovna see

[14] Ibid., 62.

[15] I.M. Andreyev, 103.

[16] Ivan M. Andreyev, “A Journey to Sarov and Diveyevo,” trans. Seraphim F. Englehardt, Orthodox Life (March-April, 1982): 30-31.

[17] Ibid., 31.

[18] Ibid., 34.

[19] I.M. Andreyev, 63. Fr. Seraphim clarifies this expression of Ivan’s saying, “By ‘spirit,’ of course, is not meant a separate component of man’s nature, as some heretics have taught, but only the higher part of the soul, where contact with God and the spiritual world is opened up, as opposed to the lower part of the soul, which is occupied with the normal human pursuits of art and science, philosophy and culture. The awareness – in first-hand experience – of this critical distinction between soul and spirit was later to give to his teaching a depth and preciseness which few philosophers and thinkers attain. Ibid., 63-64.

[20] Ivan Anderyev, Russia’s Catacomb Saints: Lives of the New Martyrs (Platina, Saint Herman of Alaska Press, 1982).48.

[21] Ibid., 65.

[22] Ibid., 69.

[23] R. Polchaninov, “In Memoriam: Prof. Ivan M. Andreyevsky,” Orthodox Life (March-April, 1977): 49.

[24] I.M. Andreyev, 97.

[25] I.M. Andreyev, 67.

Ivan and Fr. Adrian (Rymarenko) Spring, 1960

Articles by Ivan Andreyev

“On the Principles of Orthodox Monarchy.” Orthodox Way (1951) in Russian.

“Christianity and Bolshevism.” St. Vladimir Calendar (1955) in Russian.

“The Path of Prof. A.S. Askoldov.” Orthodox Way (1955) in Russian.

“On the Character of Scientific-Athiestic Propaganda in Soviet Russia.” Orthodox Way (1956) in Russian.

“On St. John of Kronstadt.” Orthodox Way (1958) in Russian.

“On the Orthodox Christian Moral Upbringing of Pre-school Children.” Orthodox Way (1959) in Russian.

“The Excommunication of Leo Tolstoy from the Orthodox Church.” Orthodox Life (May-June, 1961): 17-32.

“Concerning the Revelation of the Ikon of the Reigning Mother of God.” Orthodox Life (July-August, 1962): 4-8.

“Documents of the Catacomb Church: The Catacomb Church.” The Orthodox Word (May-June, 1970): 144-149.

“Martyrology of the Communist Yoke: Bishop Maxim of Serpukhov.” The Orthodox Word (May-June, 1970): 150-164.

“The Psychology and Psychopathology of Old Age.” St. Vladimir’s Calendar (1970). in Russian.

“On the Imperial Martyrs and the need for the Russian People to Repent for their Regicide and Apostasy.” St. Vladimir Calendar (1972) in Russian.

“A Jewish Confessor of the Orthodox Christian Faith.” Orthodox Life (January-February, 1977): 13-18.

“The Cross of Christ, 3rd Sunday in Lent” @

“St. Seraphim of Sarov: Teacher of Compunction and Joy.” Orthodox Life (March-April, 1982): 7-16.

“A Journey to Sarov and Diveyevo in 1926.” Orthodox Life (March-April): 25-34.

“Christian Truth and Scientific Knowledge.” Orthodox Way (1961) in Russian.

“Weep!” Orthodox Life (March-April, 1993): 38-42.

Prof. Andreyev and Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev), 1959


Books by Ivan Andreyev

Catacomb Church in Soviet Russia. 1947.

Icon of All Saints Who Shone Forth in the Russian Land. Munich, 1948.

The Position of the Church in Soviet Russia. New York, 1951 (publishing house unknown).

A Brief Review of the History of the Russian Church from the Revolution to the Present Day. New York, 1952 (publishing house unknown).

A Brief Summary of Lectures on Psychology. Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1960.

Psychiatric Expertism in Soviet Russia. Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1960.

Orthodox Christian Moral Theology. Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1966.

Outlines of the History of Russian Literature in the 19th Century. Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1968.

Russia’s Catacomb Saints. Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982. (Prof. Andreyev did not write the whole book but only the first 104 pages [six chapters]. Much of the rest he contributed with his own personal records or verifying others’ accounts).

Orthodox Apologetic Theology. Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1995.

Is the Grace of God Present in the Soviet Church? Wildwood: Monastery Press, 2000.


Ivan Andreyev

Articles about Ivan Andreyev

Polchaninov, R. “In Memoriam: Prof. Ivan M. Andreyevsky.” Orthodox Life (March-April, 1977): 48-50.

Editors. “I.M. Andreyev, 1894 – December 17-30, 1976: True Orthodox Convert from the Russian Intelligentsia.” The Orthodox Word (March-April, 1977): 55-67 97-103. (This article is the same one that was used to introduce the author in “Russia’s Catacomb Saints” and “Orthodox Apologetic Theology,” with minor changes.)

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