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Isaiah Kopynsky

Kopynsky, the monastic name Isaiah (2nd half of the 16th century, Kopyn village, Pidliaskie Voivodship, today: Republic of Poland – 5 Oct. 1640, Nizhyn, Chernihiv Voivodeship, today: the district center of Chernihiv oblast) – writer, teacher, Metropolitan of Kyiv, Galicia and All Ruthenia, one of the founders of Kyiv Brotherhood and Kyiv Brotherhood School. He came from Ukrainian gentry family. Studied in Ostroh or in Lviv.

In about 1600, he took monastic vows in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, where he lived for 16 years in the St. Anthony Cave, and took part in organizing the monastic life. In 1614-1615, Isaiah Kopynsky was one of those who were building up the Hustyn Trinity Monastery.

Returning to Kyiv, Isaiah Kopynsky becomes one of the founders of Kyiv Brotherhood School. It is his name that is indicated in the grant of Halshka Hulevychivna as of a person who should take care of the foundation of the school and monastery: “for this foundation to take its place.” Elected as Abbot of Brotherhood Epiphany Monastery, he began its building and development. And it is likely that he also taught at Kyiv Brotherhood School.

In 1620 he was consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophanes III to Bishop of Peremyshl and Sambir. In 1628 he became Bishop of Smolensk and Chernihiv. In 1631 he was elected Metropolitan of Kyiv, Galicia and All Ruthenia, but was eliminated from this position by Petro Mohyla who was supported by the circle of Job Boretsky and recognized by the Polish King and the Sejm.

In 1634-35 he lived in Kyiv Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, and the last years of his life Isaiah Kopynsky spent in one of the monasteries he founded in Polissya. Buried in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.
Isaiah Kopynsky is the author of polemical works, letters and epistles. In 1621, together with Metropolitan Job Boretsky and Yosyf Kurtzevych, the Bishop of Volodymyr and Berestia, they compiled the Universalna Protestaciya z Pobozhnoyu Yustyfikaciyeyu [The Universal Protest with Pious Lawsuit] aimed against the oppression of the Orthodox Church and newly consecrated bishops, and for the protection of the Ukrainian Cossacks.

In his main work, Alphavit Dukhovnyi v Polzu Inokom i Mirskim Bohouhodne Zhyty Khotiashchym Napysannyi [The Spiritual Alphabet Written for the Sake of the Monks and Secular Persons Who Want to Live a Godly Life], also known as Listvycia Dukhovnoho po Bozi Inocheskoho Zhytelstva [The Ladder of the Spiritual Living in God for the Monks] which was written after the example of the work of the ascetic mystic Ioann Synaiskyi [John Sinaites] Listvytsia [The Ladder], Kopynsky focuses on the problem of the man, reveals the essence of Gospel life in truth, teaches the ways of gaining knowledge about the world, man and God.

After more than 70 years of handwritten distribution, this treatise was published in 1710 at the printing house of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, and after that it was repeatedly reprinted. Other works by Kopynsky are Stikhosloviia Liubieznoho k Bohu Vzyvaniia [The Poems to Address God Piously], Poslaniie do Iaremy Vyshnevetskoho [The Letter to Iarema Vyshnevetsky], Statut Bratstva Iunosheskoho [The Ordinance of the Youth Brotherhood], Poslaniie do Sviashchennykiv [The Letter to the Priests], Knyzhka, Narechena Sedmodnevnyk [The Book Called The Seven Day Diary] (the last one not preserved).