Ilarion Ohienko

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Ivan Ohienko
Metropolitan Ilarion
Ohienko in 1926
Ohienko in 1926
BornІван Іванович Огієнко
(1882-01-02)2 January 1882
Brusilov, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire
Died29 March 1972(1972-03-29) (aged 90)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Occupationcleric, historian, ethnographer, and scholar, writer, and translator
Alma materKiev University
Genrereligion, Ukrainian culture, history, literature, and language
Notable worksTranslation of the Bible into Ukrainian

Metropolitan Ilarion (secular name Ivan Ivanovich Ohienko; Ukrainian: Іван Іванович Огієнко, romanizedOhiienko; 2 January (14 January), 1882 in Brusilov, Kiev Governorate – 29 March 1972 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) was a Ukrainian Orthodox cleric, linguist, church historian, and historian of Ukrainian culture. In 1940 he was Archimandrite of the St. Onuphrius Monastery in Jableczna; in 1940 he became Bishop of Chełm; in 1944 he became the Metropolitan of Chełm and Lublin (Podlaskie), and in 1951 Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada). He was also active in Ukrainian politics, both during the revolution and later in emigration.

Early life[edit]

Ivan Ohienko was born in central Ukraine (Kiev Gubernia) and educated at Kiev University where he studied Slavic philology (see Slavistics) under V. Peretts. By 1915, he was teaching at this same university, and during the revolution became active in the Ukrainianization of higher education. In 1919, he was Minister of Education in the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) which was at that time headed by the Directorate of Ukraine. After the military defeat of Petliura's forces, together with Petliura he went into exile in Tarnów, Poland. He remained in Poland between the wars and remained active in the UPR government in exile. Until 1932, he taught in the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at Warsaw University, but was dismissed under political pressure from Polish nationalist elements.


In 1940, he became Bishop of Chełm in German-occupied Poland.

In face of the advance of the Red Army, he fled west and in 1947 settled in Winnipeg in Western Canada where shortly afterward he became Metropolitan bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. Throughout his long career, in addition to church work, Ohienko contributed to scholarship and other areas of Ukrainian culture.

Scholarly work[edit]

"Ukrainska kultura" published in 1918 by Ohienko

As a scholar, Ohienko made contributions to Ukrainian linguistics, church history, and the history of Ukrainian culture. He published books on the history of Ukrainian linguistics (1907), the history of Ukrainian printing (1925), the pre-Christian beliefs of the Ukrainian people (1965), the history of the Ukrainian literary language (1950), and published several studies in Ukrainian church history of the Cossack era. He also published a general history of the Ukrainian Church (1942), a two volume work on Saints Cyril and Methodius (1927–28), edited several semi-scholarly journals, and compiled a multi-volume etymological-semantic dictionary of the Ukrainian language which was only published after his death. Most of the works first published in Poland were reprinted in Winnipeg during the Cold War, and then, again, in Ukraine after the re-establishment of independence in 1991.

Political activities[edit]

Ohienko on a 2007 stamp of Ukraine

A political moderate, during the revolution, Ohienko was a member of the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists. He was a populist committed to bringing the church closer to the common people, spreading the achievements of scholarship among wider circles of the public, and narrowing the gap between the literary language and the vernacular. Always firmly committed to Eastern Orthodoxy, some of his works betray a polemical anti-Catholic tone, but he never acceded to the ecclesiastical or political claims of Moscow (see Moscow Patriarchy) and to his death in 1972 remained a strong supporter of Ukrainian church autocephaly and Ukrainian political independence.

Ohienko Bible[edit]

Between 1917 and 1940, he also realized a translation of the Bible into the Ukrainian language, finally published in 1958. His translation of the Gospels became available in 1937, and the rest of the New Testament and the Psalms in 1939. His Ukrainian translation is the one most widely used nowadays, with Ukrainian Bible Society starting to publish mass editions in 1995. Before that, his translation was mainly being published in the USA, Canada, and Western Europe.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Archbishop Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) as Archbishop of Winnipeg
Metropolitan of Winnipeg and the Central Diocese, Metropolitan and Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Education of Ukraine
1919 – April 1919
Succeeded by