Patriarch Alexiy II
head of Russian church
Died: 5 December 2008
Best Known as: head of the Russian Orthodox Church
Deathplace: Moscow, Russia
Alexei Rediger was born in Estonia, to a Russian Orthodox family in 1929. He studied theology in St. Petersburg and then rose swiftly through the ranks of the Church—by the age of 32 he was a bishop and by 35 he was an archbishop. Alexiy II became the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union. He was credited with helping restore the Church after decades of repression under communism, becoming a respected and revered public figure in Russia.