1864  — 1931

Innokentii Figurovskii

Russian Orthodox missionary to China.

Dispatched from Russia to Peking (Beijing) in 1897, Figurovskii found that the Russian Orthodox mission there was virtually dormant. Six formal missions had been mounted since 1728, but after ministering to expatriate Russian merchants until such time as the latter assimilated to Chinese culture and drifted away from the church, they limited themselves to studying Chinese and translating; the archimandrite in charge a mission often doubled as the de facto Russian ambassador.

Figurovskii refocused the work on missionary outreach and Christian witness. He instituted daily services for Chinese converts and potential catechumens, established charitable agencies for destitute emigres, and ordered his fellow preachers, sent out into the villages, to double as social workers. Following the violently anti-Christian Boxer Rebellion (1901), which saw the Russian missionaries suffer more than the numerically larger Roman Catholics and Protestants, Figurovskii reported on the status and needs of the Chinese mission to the Holy Synod in Saint Petersburg.

He was elevated to the episcopacy and returned to China, along with several priests. Utilizing reparation payments from the Chinese government, he opened thirty-two mission centers that provided elementary education to some 500 children. His clergy baptized over 5,000 people and a seminary was opened to train native clergy. It is known that in 1904 he was working in Manchuria, but after that the record is silent.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


Serge Bolshakoff, The Foreign Missions of the Russian Orthodox Church (1943), pp. 63-68; James J. Stamoolis, Eastern Orthodox Mission Theology Today (1986), pp. 41-42.

About the Author

Paul D. Garrett

Independent Scholar, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA