3(10), -  2001    

The Printing-House of the Monastery of Trei Ierarhi in Iasi and its Staff

Oksana Yurchyshyn-Smith
St Clement Ukrainian Catholic University,
London College

The history of the printing-house of the monastery of Trei Ierarhi in Iasi, founded with the help of skilled craftsmen from Kyiv by Petro Mohyla, Metropolitan of Kyiv, Halych and All Russia (1599-1646) at the request of the Moldavian Voivode Vasile Lupu (1593-1661), is a shining example of co-operation between two neighbouring countries. Although the uncertainty of the period precluded any long existence for the printing-house, the few books printed there (Decretul patriarchului Partenie (1642), Carte de invatatura (1643), Septe taine (1644), and Pravileinparatesci (1646)1) illustrate the fertile influence of the traditions of Ukrainian printing and illustration on the practice of book production in Romania.

A new stage in Ukrainian-Romanian relations began when Petro Mohyla, son of the Moldavian Voivode Simon Mohyla and nephew of the Voivode Ieremia and the Metropolitan Gheorghe of Moldavia, became Archimandrite of the largest monastery in Ukraine, the Kyivo-Pecheska Lavra in 1627, and Metropolitan of Kyiv in 1632. This energetic man and enlightened patron tried in his activities to unite the old traditions of the Orthodox East with the achievements of Western culture. Thanks largely to his efforts, Kyiv was reborn as a national centre for many fields of cultural life. In the Lavra Mohyla founded a new school in which Greek and Latin were taught on equal terms. When in 1632 this school was united with that of the Kyiv Brotherhood, there began the renowned Kyivo-Mohylanski Collegium (from 1701 the Kyivo-Mohylanska Akademiia), for many years the only centre of higher education in the Eastern Slavic world. Mohyla was also the instigator of the rebuilding and restoration of many famous Kyivan churches - the Cathedral of St Sophia, the Desiatynna (Tithe) Church, the Church of the Three Hierarchs, St Michael in the Kyiv Vydubytskyi Monastery, and the Church of the Saviour on Berestovo (this last church was decorated by painters brought especially from Greece). The Lavra printing-house was particularly active during Mohylas time; here were printed such richly-illustrated books as the Evanhelie uchytelne (1637), the Great Trebnyk (1646), a series of wonderful panegyrics and many others. Mohylas great innovation was the printing of Latin and Polish works besides Church Slavonic. He was not interested solely in the restoration of Ukrainian institutions, however, but also used his huge power and resources to foster the growth of education and culture in his native land. In 1633 in response to a request from the Wallachian Voivode Matei Basarab, Mohyla sent to Cimpulung a printing-house complete with five fonts of type, together with a skilful printer, Timofei with others2, which means that the Kyivan printers Tymofiy Verbytskiy, Ivan Hlebkovych and others arrived in Wallachia and printed the Trebnyk in Cimpulung in 1635.

The Kyivan metropolitan helped to restore printing in Moldavia as well. Not wishing to be outdone by his political rival Matei, the Moldavian Voivode Vasile Lupu also took thought for the spiritual renaissance of his country. After the period of internecine rivalry between Moldavia and Wallachia ended in 1639, Lupu, who ruled in great peace and tranquillity, was able to pay more attention to the life of Moldavia. Among other foundations of Lupu and his wife Tudosca was the monastery in Iasi dedicated to the Three Hierarchs, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian and Basil the Great, who was the Voivodes patron saint3. The famous traveller Paul of Aleppo left us a detailed description of this monastery, its fortifications, and above all the main church, its exterior wonderfully decorated with carvings4. The frescoes inside the church of Trei Ierarhi were created by Sidor Pospeev, famous for his work in the Uspensky Sobor and Archangelsky Sobor in the Kremlin, Iakov Gavrilov, Deiko Iakovlev and Pronka Nikitin, sent by Tsar Michael Fedorovich5. Paul of Aleppo described the frescoes of these Russian artists, where as well as religious subjects there were episodes of profane life; portraits of the donors, and pictures of the life of St Parakeva of Epivat and the removal to Iasi of her relics6.

In the time of Vasile Lupu the monastery of Trei Ierarhi was the seat of Kir Varlaam, archbishop and metropolitan of Suceava and all Moldavian lands. Near the church, within the monastery grounds, stood a printing-house and school for sons of boyars and others, founded by Lupu on the advice of Varlaam, following the example of the Kyivo-Mohylanski Collegium. Archbishop Varlaam (1590-1657), (christened Vasile Motok), a well-educated, enlightened scholar, was a faithful supporter of Vasile Lupu, and inspired the latters ideas for reform7. In 1629 Vasiles predecessor, Miron Barnowski sent Varlaam to Moscow on a mission to buy icons for churches in Iasi8. On his way the metropolitan visited Kyiv, where he became aware of the activities of Petro Mohyla, then archimandrite of the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra, in founding a Collegium and directing the printing-house of the Lavra, well-known in Romania9. This undeniably significant visit inspired the growth of the idea of a Romanian enlightenment by creating a school and printing-house in Iasi according to the Kyivan model10.

It has been suggested that the first attempt to found a school and printing-house in Iasi with the help of Ukrainian scholars and printers took place in 1632, but Sofroniy Pochaskiy, professor of rhetoric in the Lavra Collegium and some Kyivan scholars were unable to reach Romania because of destruction caused by the war, and had to return home11. On 7 April 1640, Petro Mohyla wrote to the Tsar in Moscow Prince Vasile of Moldavia, recognising the divine rewards which follow the founding of schools by pious and orthodox teachers and the profit which the sons of boyars gain in Poland [presumably by going to study there], has asked many times in letters that the Metropolitan of Kyiv should send him learned monks and wise teachers, which has been agreed12. V. Kiriak stated that the school in Iasi was founded by Vasile Lupu on 28 March 1640. Sofronyi Pochaskiy arrived from Kyiv accompanied by four teachers-bookmen, and was appointed as head of the new school and abbot of the Trei Ierarhi monastery13.

The name of Sofronyi Pochaskiy is well-known in the history of Ukrainian and Romanian culture of the 17th century. M. Maksymovychs hypothesis (supported by S. Holubev), that Sofronyi Pochaskiy and a pupil at the Kyiv Brotherhood school, Stefan Pochaskiy were one and the same person is now generally accepted14. Stefan Pochaskiy was the first of the students [spudei] of the Brotherhood school whose declamation was published in Virshi na zhalosnyi pohreb zatsnoho rytsera Petra Sahaydachnoho. This collection of poems by the rector of the school, Kasiian Sakovych, dedicated to the memory of the Cossack hetman and patron of the school Petro Sahaydachniy, was published in the printing-house of the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra in 162215. Ten years later the same printing-house published a richly decorated panegyric in honour of Petro Mohyla, Evkharistyrion albo vdiachnost Petru Mohyli16. The author of the preface of this example of the high poetic style was the least of the community of brothers of the Pechersky monastery, your honours son and servant, Sofronyi Pochaskiy, monk of the Pechersky monastery, professor of rhetoric of the Collegium [Hymnastes]. Probably between 1622 and 1632 Stefan Pochaskiy, one of the best pupils of the Brotherhood School, took holy orders in the Pecherska Lavra under the name of Sofroniy, and headed the faculty of rhetoric of the newly-established Kyiv Collegium. Before he left the Ukraine, he had become Rector of the Collegium and abbot of the Kyiv Brotherhood monastery17. It is also possible that after the death of Tarasy Zemka, he became director of the Lavra printing-house18. The sending to Moldavia of such a well-educated man, with experience in running a school and perhaps also a printing-house shows the earnest desire of Petro Mohyla for the success of the cultural ambitions of Vasile Lupu and the Metropolitan Varlaam. Sofronyi Pochaskiy used his experience in Kyiv when setting up the new school in Iasi, but, as P. Panaitescu discovered, he also took advice from a Greek, Theophilos Korydaleus, a friend of the Constantinople Patriarch Kyrillos Loukaris who had re-organized the Greek Academy in Constantinople19. Amongst the subjects taught at the new school were rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, music, astronomy, theology, Old Slavonic, Greek and Latin20.

We do not know the names of all the teachers who accompanied Pochaskiy, but it is likely that one of them was Ihnatiy Ievlevych, a nephew of the former rector of the Kyiv Collegium, who had gone on to study at Zamosc. He was in Iasi in 1644-5, and by 1647 had returned to Kyiv21.

The printing-house at Iasi started work a little later than the school. At first Moldavian ecclesiastics had tried to get help from Moscow in order to print books in Moldavian. In 1636/7 Metropolitan Varlaam wrote to the Tsar Michael Fedorovich the book of St Callistius, the Exposition of the Holy Gospel, translated into Romanian [voloski] to be read by priests in church to teach orthodox Vlachs, is now ready, and only needs to be printed and published22. After this unsuccessful attempt to get printing equipment from Moscow, Vasile Lupu and Varlaam again asked for help from the Ukraine. On 12 January 1641Lupu wrote to the Lviv Brotherhood to thank them for the type for the printing-house in Iasi23. Later another letter, dated 14 February 1642, arrived in Lviv, from Sofronyi Pochaskyi24. Writing to the members of the Lviv Brotherhood, Pochaskyi stated When I recently was sent by His Highness, our founder and benefactor, to Lviv to collect printing equipment for church use among the people of Romania [Moldowallachia], not only did I receive no help from Your Honours but I was even insulted. This means that in the end of 1641 or the beginning of 1642 Pochaskyi had visited Lviv to buy printing materials for the Voivode. Probably the quarrel that arose at this time between Petro Mohyla and the Lviv Brotherhood prevented members of the Brotherhood from giving any help to one of Mohylas supporters. In the end we know from the introduction of the Carte de invatatura (1643), that the Most Holy Father Petro Mohyla, son of the Moldavian voivode sent a printing-press with all the equipment. The printing-house was established in the monastery of Trei Ierarhi, and became subordinate to its abbot, Sofroniy Pochaskiy25.

Besides Pochaskiy, among the specialists who arrived from Kyiv were the printers Father Samuil Rohalia and the monk Mikhail, and the engraver Ilia. The name of Mikhail is given by Kiriak, but we know nothing more of him26. Much more is known about Rohalia, who was referred to by Andriy Skolskiy, a famous Lviv printer who also worked in Wallachia in 1635-7, as Father Samuil, from Vilnius, German [nemets], printer27. In 1636 among those who signed the Zhalostnyi list (declaration in defence of the Orthodox church) by Afanasyi Filipovych was Samoil Rohalia, printer of the Brotherhood of Vilnius28. Later he lived in Lviv, where he took part in the election of Arsenyi Zhelyborskyi as Bishop of Lviv, and in Kyiv29. Not later than November 1642 Rohalia arrived in Iasi. This date can be determined from letters of the Russian diplomat and secret agent at the court of Vasile Lupu, Afanasiy Ordin-Nashchokin, whose spiritual father and probably collaborator was Rohalia. The first letter is dated 20 November 1642; in another letter Ordin-Nashchokin wrote My spiritual father, the black priest Samuil in Iasi until my arrival was living at Vasiles court to print books30. We do not know the exact functions of Samuil Rohalia or Mikhail; their names do not appear in books printed at Iasi, a common occurrence in Ukrainian and Romanian books at this time. But probably Samuil Rohalia fulfilled the most important role; we know from a letter of Ordin-Nashchokin in July 1643 that the Metropolitan [i.e. Mohyla] sent for him to return to Kyiv, in order to correct printed books31. Rohalia died shortly afterwards in Lviv, in 14 January 1644, after a journey from the Pecherska Lavra to attend a book fair32.

The illustrator of the first books published by the Iasi printing-house, Ilia, was one of the most famous Ukrainian engravers of this period, a protege of Petro Mohyla and other members of the church hierarchy. His life and artistic journeyings can be reconstructed from the large number of his signed and dated woodcuts. He started work in 1637-9 in the printing-houses of Lviv, and was probably a monk of the monastery of St Onuphrius, subordinated to the Lviv Brotherhood, and a pupil of the Iierodiiakon Georghii33. A talented and industrious engraver, he was soon invited to the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra printing-house where he made some woodcuts dated 164034. No woodcuts by him dated 1641 or 1642 appear in Ukrainian books (very unusual for such a prolific artist), but woodcuts by him from these years appear in a book from the Iasi printing-house35. We can assume that Ilia was one of the specialists sent by Mohyla to Iasi, and that he returned to Kyiv not later than 164336. In Ukraine Ilia created almost 500 woodcuts for such famous books as the Great Trebnyk of Petro Mohyla (1646), the Pateryk Pecherskiy (1661), the unique blockbook Bible (1645-9)37, and many others.

The first publication of the Iasi printing-house, the Decretul of the patriarch Parthenius (20 Dec. 1642) has a title-page with a woodcut head-piece and frame which can be attributed to Ilia38. The Decretul was published in Greek type, which probably came from Father Berezhanskiy in Lviv39.

The next publication, the Carte de invatatura, a collection of commentaries on the Gospels attributed to St Callistius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and translated into Romanian by Varlaam, is decorated with many woodcuts which are either similar to or exact copies of those in Ukrainian books printed by Ivan Fedorov, Petro Mstyslavets, Fedir and Hedeon Balaban, Kyrylo Trankvilion Stavrovetskiy and many others40. The second of the two variants of the title frame, and 17 (19 in some copies) woodcuts are signed by Ilia41. In comparing Ilias title frame with the first variant by an unknown artist, it is possible to see his considerable professional skill in engraving. Ilias illustrations in the text are not all of the same quality; beside such masterly woodcuts as the Entry into Jerusalem or St George killing the dragon, and others, in the second part of the book (which has a separate pagination), the Baptism of Christ and the Holy martyr Theodore Tiron were apparently executed in haste. Special attention should be paid to the full-page illustration of St Paraskeva Petka of Epivat, whose relics Lupu had purchased at great expense, and had transferred with great pomp from Istanbul to Iasi. The woodcut of St Petka by Ilia follows the pattern of a hagiographical icon, and includes three scenes of the transfer of the relics, where we see Lupu, the Turkish Sultan and their escorts42. In later books from the Iasi press we can assign to Ilia the title frame and coat of arms in the Pravile inparatesci (1646), which appeared long after Ilias return to Kyiv43. In the Iasi printing-house there was also published one of the first Romanian prints - a large woodcut panegyric signed by Ilia in honour of Lupu and his family. The unique surviving copy of this print was found by F. Dudas44. As Romanian scholars have noted, Ilia opened the line of artist-illustrators of Moldavia; no other named engravers are known in this period45.

The activity of the printing-house in the Trei Ierarhi monastery forms a very short episode in the extensive and many-sided cultural exchanges between the Ukraine and Romania during the time of Petro Mohyla, when after a long interval book printing was restored in both Moldavia and Wallachia with the assistance of many Ukrainian printers and artists. On the wider impact of the Ukrainians at Iasi, Vasile Lupus successor, Gheorghie Stefan spoke of the fine teachers, full of enthusiasm for learning whom Mohyla had sent, and continued we know what benefits our country has received from their scholarship46.

Translated by Nicholas Smith



1. Ilia, St Paraskeva Petka, from the Carte de invatatura, woodcut, 190x130mm.
2. Ilia, Christs Entry into Jerusalem, 1641, from the Carte de invatatura, woodcut, 64x146mm.
3. Ilia, St George Killing the Dragon, from the Carte de invatatura, woodcut, 77x125mm.



1 I. Bianu, N. Hodos, Bibliografia romanesca veche, vol. 1, Bucharest 1903, p. 119, no. 41; p. 137, no. 45; p. 147, no. 47; p. 156, no. 50. In the Supplement, p. 23, no. 19 is the Catehism (1642), and p. 25, no. 24 is the Bucoavna (1651), printed in Iasi, but little is known of these publications. A few other rare books, not mentioned by Bianu and Hodos, such as Paraclis al nascatoarei de Dumnezeu (1645), can be associated with the Iasi printing-house; see G. Strempel, Sprijinul acordat de Rusia tiparului Rominesc in secolul al XVII-lea, Studii si cercetarii de bibliologie, vol. 1, Bucharest 1955, p. 29.
2 H. Koliada, Iz istorii knigopechatnych sviazei Rossii, Ukrainy, Rumynii v XVI-XVIII vv., U istokov russkogo knigopechataniia, Moscow 1959, p. 88.
3 N. Grigoras, Biserica Trei Ierarhi din Iasi, Iasi 1962; A. Dobjanschi, V. Simion, Arta in epoca luiVasile Lupu, Bucharest 1979.
4 Pavel Aleppski, Puteshestvie antiokhiiskago patriarkha Makariia, tr. G. Murkos, Moscow 1896, p.62-5.
5 N. Grigoras, op. cit., p. 32-3; Istoricheskie sviazi narodov SSSR i Rumynii v XV - nachale XVIII v., Moscow 1968, p. 26, no. 5; p. 55, no. 15; p. 57, no. 16; p. 69, no. 20.
6 This can also be seen in the illustrations by Ilia of one of the best books from the printing-house, the Carte de invatatura.
7 For the literature on Varlaam, see F. Dudash, Cazania lui Varlaam in Transilvania, Cluj-Napoca 1983, p. 24.
8 A.Rogov, Kulturnye sviazi Rossii s Balkanskimi stranami v pervoi polovine XVII v., Sviazi Rossii s narodami Balkanskogo poluostrova, Moscow 1990, p. 127-8.
9 P. Panaitescu, Linfluence de loeuvre de Pierre Mogila dans les principautes roumaines, Paris 1926, p. 55.
10 Dudash, op. cit., p. 25.
11 H. Koliada, Ukrainsko-rumynskie knigopechatnye sviazi v oblasti knizhnoi ornamentiki, Problemyrukopisnoi i pechatnoi knigi, Moscow 1976, p. 205-6.
12 Panaitescu, op. cit., p.62.
13 V. Kiriiak, Carte si tiparul in Moldova in secolele XVII-XVIII, Chisinau 1977, p. 34.
14 M. Maksymovych, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 3, Kyiv 1880, p. 695; S. Golubev, Kievskii Mitropolit Petr Mogila i ego spodvizhniki, vol. 1, Kyiv 1883, p. 426-7.
15 F.Titov, Tipografiia Kievo-Pecherskoi Lavry, vol. 1, Kyiv 1916, p. 136; Id., Prilozheniia, Kyiv 1918, p.37-51; Ia. Zapasko, Ia. Isaevych, Pamiatky knyzhkovoho mystetstva. Kataloh starodrukiv, vydanykhna Ukraini, vol. 1, Lviv 1981, p. 41, no. 137.
16 Titov, Tipografiia p. 201-3; Id., Prilozheniia, p. 291-305; Zapasko, Isaevych p. 53, no. 228.
17 V. Askochenskii, Kiev s drevneishim ego uchilishchem Akademieiu, vol. 1, Kyiv 1855, p.158; Titov, Tipografia p. 275.
18 I. Ohienko, Istoriia ukrainskoho drukarstva, vol. 1, Kyiv 1994, p. 267.
19 Panaitescu, op. cit., p. 65.
20 Dobjanschi & Simion, op. cit., p. 20.
21 Panaitescu, op. cit., p. 67-8.
22 Istoricheski svazi, p.19.
23 Ib., p. 49-50, no. 13.
24 Holubev, vol. 2, Prilozheniia, p.203-5.
25 Koliada, Ukrainsko-rumynskie knigopechatnye sviazi, p. 206.
26 Kiriak, op. cit., p.34.
27 Ia. Isaevych, Preemniki pervopechatnika, Moscow 1981, p.81. Nemets at this period could refer to any non-Slavonic speaker, so Samuil may have been Lithuanian.

28 V. Korshunov, Afanasiy Filipovich; zhizn i tvorchestvo, Minsk 1965, p. 128.
29 Isaevych, op. cit., p. 82.
30 N. Mokhov, Novye dannye ob organizatsii pervoi tipografii v Moldavii, Uchenye zapiski Institutaistorii Moldavskogo filiala AN SSSR, Chisinau 1959, p. 172; I. Galaktionov, Ranniaia perepiska A.L. Ordina-Nashchokina, Saratov 1968, p. 13, 69-71.

31 Galaktionov, op. cit., p. 71.
32 Isaevych, op. cit., p. 81.
33 O. Yurchyshyn-Smith, The monk Ilia - illustrator of seventeenth-century Ukrainian and Romanian books, Solanus, N.S. 13, London 1999, p.25-43. On the illustration of the Baptism of the eunuch of the Emperor of Abyssinia in the Apostol (Lviv 1639) Ilias signature is followed by the word ANAKZNOZ (elsewhere shortened to ANAK or even A), which probably represents the Greek anaxios, unworthy. Other instances of such additions to the names of Ukrainian printers of this time are known - see Ukrainskie knigi kirillovskoi pechati XVI-XVIII vv. Katalog izdanii, khraniashchikhsia v Gosudarstvennoi biblioteke SSSR im. V.I. Lenina, vyp. 1, Moscow 1976, p. 13. In works of Romanian art historians, another explanation of ANAKZNOZ is given, Anagnoste, a surname from the northern Dobrudja, in order to prove that Ilia was of Romanian origin - see D. Morarescu, Ilie Anagnoste, xylographe de Petru Movila et de Vasile Lupu, La Roumanie daujourdhui, no. 7, 1982, p. 35. This idea seems to be unacceptable, as is his suggestion that Ilia came to Kyiv as one of Mohylas retinue, and that his artistic career started there in 1630. Ilia arrived in Kyiv not from Moldavia but from Lviv, and no woodcut of his is known in books from the Pecherska Lavra before 1640.
34 Ukrainskie knigi p. 49, nos. 200 & 201; p. 64, no. 706.
35 Carte de invatatura, Iasi 1643, title and ll. 86v and 124r. See also Dudas, op. cit., p. 80-7.
36 Woodcuts dated 1643 by Ilia in books from the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra, see Ukrainskie knigi vyp. 1, p. 64, no. 716; vyp. 2 pt 1, p. 69, no. 1592.

37 O. Yurchyshyn, Master Ilias Lytseva Bible, Print Quarterly, vol. XV, London 1998, p. 389-95.
38 This ornamental frame is very similar to those on maps from the Lavra printing-house, such as that in the Teratourgema of Athanasius Kalnofoyski (1638).
39 Holubev, vol. 2, Prilozheniia, p.203-5.
40 Koliada, Ukrainsko-rumynskie knigopechatnye sviazi, contains a detailed survey of borrowings in the Carte de invatatura and other Romanian books.
41 Among surviving copies some have additional pages, which contain the two extra woodcuts. See Dudas, op. cit., p. 81-2, figs 14 & 16.

42 A close parallel to this woodcut can be found in an icon from the local range of the iconostasis of the church of Sts Paraskeva Piatnytsia and Paraskeva Petka in Lviv, which was rebuilt after a fire in the 1640s at the expense of Vasile Lupu. See Yurchyshyn-Smith, op. cit., p.31, figs 2-3.
43 At the foot of the text of the title-page are the initials S E. Cz., which Panaitescu (p. 53) and Strempel (p. 31) assume to be those of the engraver; but because these are not part of the woodcut, but printed from type, it seems more likely that they are those of the printer.

44 Dudas, op. cit., p. 163-6.
45 Dobjanschi & Simion, op. cit., p. 64; Strempel, op. cit., p. 31.
46 Panaitescu, op. cit., p. 66.

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