Together with military and administrative government there was church administration in the province as well. In 1555 there was organized a new bishopric (eparchy) with the first Kazan and Sviyazhsk arch-bishop Guriy (Father-Superior of the Selizharov Monastery). As soon as he arrived in Kazan, Guriy immediately started converting population to Christianity and constructing new churches. In this way were founded Preobrazhensky and Zilantov monasteries in Kazan and 2 more monasteries in Sviyazhsk. The Kazan and Sviyazhsk arch-bishops (from 1556 to 1602 they were called Kazan and Astrakhan; and from 1799 to 1832 – Kazan and Siberian arch-bishops) ruled the Kazan bishopric up to 1589; later this bishopric was turned into metropolis. The first metropolitan was St.Ermogen, later he became the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. It’s St.Ermogen who described wonderful finding of the Icon of Kazan God’s Mother and its miracles. And it’s he who found in 1595 relics of Kazan saints Guriy and Varsofoniy and managed to canonize them as All-Russian saints. As for the Icon of Kazan God’s Mother, it was found on July, 8, 1579 by a 10-year old girl Matrena. The newly found icon was taken to the temple by priest Ermolay (later – St. Patriarch Ermogen) and soon it showed numerous miracles. The original of this icon was kept in Kazan Bogoroditskiy Monastery till 1904 when it was stolen by a certain Chaikin. Till the present day the fate of this icon is unknown. The investigation failed to prove the fact that the icon was destroyed; besides some historians believe that it was the copy that was stolen and the original was sent to Moscow in 1612. After St.Ermogen the metropolis was headed by metropolitan Efrem, who sent the copy of the icon in 1612 to the army headed by Minin and prince Pozharsky. Later the victory over the Pole was ascribed to the magic power of this icon (this victory is celebrated by Russian Orthodox Church on November, 4). In 1613 metropolitan Efrem possessed all the power of a real Patriarch. That’s why it was he who coronated Michael Fedorovich Romanov, the first of this house.
Islam lost its status of the predominant religion. Moreover, Russian administration set the goal of complete elimination of Islam on the territory of Volga region and trying to achieve this goal, the government forced people to convert to Christianity or used other discriminating methods.
Nickonov chronicle says: “By divine mercy and strong faith of the orthodox tsar Ivan Vasilevich were the impious tatars places under his control. And the devout tsar destroyed their infidel faith and their idols, and built Orthodox churches and brought Christianity to their land…” Lots of captive tatars had a choice – either to be christened or to die. The last Kazan khans Yadigar and Utyamish-Girey adopted Christianity. In 1593 tsar Fedor Ioanovich gave order to destroy mosques in Kazan.
Still according to assertion of the historian Evfimiy Malov (lived in the mid. XIX), such orders of Ivan the Terrible and his son Fedor Ioanovich concerned Kazan, only because it was the new Christian capital of the Volga region; and these orders weren’t applied to other tatar settlements. Moreover, the Kazan and Sviyazhsk arch-bishop Guriy was prescribed “to bring tatars to the new faith by persuasion and love, not by fear”. Though in reality there were mostly used such methods as economic compulsion.
In most cases conversion to Christianity was very formal – in 1593 metropolitan Germogen wrote: “newly-christened tatars don’t accept the new faith and keep living according to their traditions”. After that the tsarist government decided to take more serious measures. But the process of conversion weakened very much during the period of peasants’ war and Polish intervention. Only after the government had recovered its lost positions the process started with new forces.
In the XVII century new methods were used to convert people to Christianity. For instance, non-christened had no right to possess christened population. What is more, in case that a non-christened owner died all his property would pass to his distant relatives converted into Christianity, instead of direct Moslem heirs. Mordvinian peasants were offered to accept Christianity in exchange for preferential duties valid during 6 years. At the same time they were warned that in case of their refusal all their lands would be handed over to the Tatar people. It’s also known that the government, trying to stop missionary work of Tatar Clergy, prohibited trips to Mecca and Bashkiria.