In spite of Ukraine’s stormy history, one can still find Ukrainian families who carefully pass from generation to generation the story of their lineage and their traditions. They are like islets of intellectualism, human warmth, generosity, nobility of spirit. They keep all of us from sliding into savagery and degradation, they uphold lofty moral ideals. Among such families of noble descent one finds the Zerovs, the Bilyashivskys, the Prakhovs, the Rylskys, the Phylypovyches.
The Phylypovyches trace their origins to a sixteenth-century Ukrainian aristocratic family. Their coat of arms is a gold cross and a silver horse shoe against the blue background topped with a white hound in a gold crown.
Afanasiy, Father Superior of a monastery in Berestya and a seventeenth-century martyr, and Pavlo Phylypovych, a twentieth-century poet, are probably the most conspicuous Phylypovyches.

Mariya Phylypovych, Pavlo’s mother.

Two brothers, Leonid and Pavlo. Early twentieth century.

Petro Phylypovych, Pavlo’s father.
Afanasiy, staunch upholder of Orthodox faith
Afanasiy Phylypovych was born at the end of the 16th century in the town of Berestya (Brest). After receiving a comprehensive education, both religious and secular, he occupied himself with tutoring offspring of the noble families. One of such families was the one of Lev Sapeha, the Lithuanian Chancellor. In 1627, Afanasiy took monastic vows in the Svyatodukhivsky (“Of the Holy Spirit”) Monastery, distinguished himself as an exemplary monk and in 1640 became Father Superior of the St Simeon the Stolpnyk Monastery in Berestya. Afanasiy zealously upheld the Orthodox faith against encroachments of the Roman Catholicism (the thing is, a greater part of Ukraine was under the Polish domination in those times, and the Poles, being Catholics, disseminated Catholicism, sometimes by force). His efforts brought fruit: many of those who were forced to adopt Catholicism returned to the bosom of the Orthodox faith. In the forties of the 17th century, he repeatedly addressed himself to King Vladyslav IV, demanding that the Orthodox Church be given back its full rights. His insistence led to his arrest and imprisonment by the Polish authorities. After his release from prison, he travelled to the city of Kyiv where he stayed for a couple of years under the protection of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, a remarkable figure in the cultural and political life of Ukraine. At the end of the forties a liberation war against the Polish rule erupted in Ukraine and Afanasiy actively supported the liberation cause by his fiery sermons. He was captured by the Poles, put into fetters and thrown into jail. On September 4, 1648, he was tried, found guilty of sedition and sentenced to death. Next morning, he was tortured to death. In addition to reverent memories of him, he left behind inspirational sacred poems and a scholarly treatise about the strengths of the Orthodox faith.
There was also a notable eighteenth-century Phylypovych named Ivan. He was an etcher working in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Mostly, he produced copper etchings of religious subjects. A book, published in 1760, carried seventy small-sized illustrations of superb execution.
Pavlo Phylypovych, a scholar and poet
Pavlo Phylypovych is probably the best known representative of the Phylypovych family of ancient and noble ancestry.
He was born into the family of a priest in the village of Kaytanivka (in the Land of Cherkasy) in 1891. There were, besides Pavlo several children in the family who grew to become (one of Pavlo’s brothers died young) teachers. Oleksandr, Pavlo’s brother, was a chemist but devoted himself mostly to translation and studies of poetry. After WWII, he found himself in the USA where he published a book of Pavlo’s poetry and a collection of scholarly works written by Pavlo. He died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, in 1981.
Pavlo’s father, a village priest, was educated at a Kyiv seminary; in his student years, he sang as the soloist of a choir in the Holy Sophia Cathedral of Kyiv. He wanted his son to be well educated, and after a few years at a local school, he sent Pavlo to Kyiv, to a prestigious school patronized by St Volodymyr University. Among the headmasters of the school were distinguished personalities; the celebrated Russian poet Inokentiy Annensky was one of them. And among the graduates one finds prominent figures of Ukrainian culture such as academician A. Krymsky, V. Lypsky, and others. Upon graduation cum laude, Pavlo Phylypovych was enrolled at St Volodymyr University where majored in Slavic philology. He published his first book, Life and Work of Ye. Boratynsky, in Kyiv in 1917. The book was well received by scholarly critics and was awarded a gold medal.
Phylypovych began writing poetry in 1910, publishing his poems written in Russian in local magazines. Also, he wrote articles for a number of literary magazines under a pen name of Pavel Zorev (the last name Zorev is suggestive of the Ukrainian word zorya which means “star”). His academic brilliance prompted his staying at the university upon graduation in the capacity of an associate and later of a full professor. He delivered lectures on the history of literature.


Leonid Phylypovych (pilot), his father and other descendants of the Phylypovych family.


The Phylypovyches of several generations. 1930s


Pavlo Phylypovych with his wife, Mariya.
Late twenties.

The tempestuous years of war and revolution he spent in Kyiv without interrupting his scholarly and poetic work. In June 1922, he could at last visit his kinfolk in the village of Lozovatka. His brother Oleksandr Phylypovych in his Memories about My Brother wrote that Pavlo, when he arrived, could hardly be recognized. He spoke highly polished Ukrainian, enthused over Ukrainian poets rather than over French and Russian modernists. He brought new books and magazines with him, and they were not books of Baudelaire and Verlaine, as would have been the case several years before (he knew a lot of their poetry by heart and used to love to recite them in French), but collections of poetry of young Ukrainian poets: Tychyna, Rylsky, Zerov. Among the books Pavlo brought for his relatives was his own first book of poetry: Earth and Wind.
Upon his return to Kyiv, he joined a group of historians, art and literary critics to compile a biographical dictionary of Ukrainian cultural figures. It was a voluntary and gratuitous work. In the twenties, Pavlo Phylypovych sat on different cultural commissions whose spheres of activities were wide indeed, from art history to American studies.
He continued to deliver lectures. One of the courses dealt with Ukrainian literature from the end of the nineteenth century to the revolution of 1917. One of the students who attended his lectures later reminisced: “Phylypovych’s scholarship was the most profound and all-encompassing. There was hardly anyone who could compare to him in his field of knowledge. Anyway, we, students, were in raptures. He was a virtuoso of literary analysis.”
Phylypovych launched the publication of a number of collections of scholarly essays on Shevchenko, his art, poetry and life. He brought together a group of excellent scholars and publishers, who under his editorship, published a number of such collections. In 1925, he released another book of his poetry (“Prostir” - “Wide Expanses”), showing himself an erudite and versatile poet of refined lyrical talent. In the late twenties, he was arrested, together with M. Zerov and M. Drai-Khmara, his friends and poets, representing new trends in Ukrainian poetry, by the secret police and falsely charged with “membership of a terrorist organization.” He shared the fate of thousands of other Ukrainian intellectuals who were destroyed by the communist regime. There were all kinds of preposterous charges brought against them. Pavlo Phylypovych was found guilty and sentenced to ten years of hard labour in a concentration camp in the island of Solovky in the north. Mariya Mykhaylyuk, Phylypovych’s wife, tried very hard to get him moved to a less severe place where he could serve his term with less danger to his health and very life, but soon she was herself arrested and dispatched to another concentration camp.
Pavlo Phylypovych was reported to have been seen alive for the last time in 1937. There is some evidence that he died or was killed in November 1937.
Phylypovyches of today
There are descendants of the Phylypovych family living now in several countries of the world - Germany, France, USA. And in Ukraine, of course.
Several of the Phylypovyches live in Kyiv. They, descendants of Pavlo and his brothers, preserve the traditions of the Phylypovyches, making sure all the new generations know what an ancient and glorious family they belong to.
One of the Phylypovyches, Leonid, a graduate of Kyiv Polytechnic, worked as a pilot, tested some of the Antonov planes, flew to destinations in Yakutia, Mongolia, even in Antarctica. His life deserves a separate story. His married daughter lives in Hamburg, Germany. Among the Phylypovyches of Kyiv one finds teachers, research workers, headmasters, scientists, students.
Bohdan Lisovych, a US citizen and a descendent of the Phylypovyches, came to Ukraine for the first time in the capacity of the deputy UN representative to Ukraine where he met some of his Phylypovych relatives.
May God grant the family of the Phylypovyches many more centuries of good and fruitful life for the benefit of themselves and of Ukraine.

By Oles Ilchenko
Photos from the Phylypovyches’ archives