I’m reading Russia, by Donald Mackenzie Wallace, an indispensable text for any English-speaker who wishes to understand the country in tsarist times (there were three editions, in 1877, 1905, and 1912; I’m reading an abridgment of the last, but the 1905 is online here and here); I wish to present here an amusing anecdote from near the start of Chapter IV:
According to this custom, when a boy enters the seminary he receives from the Bishop a new family name. The name may be Bogoslafski, from a word signifying “Theology,” or Bogolubof, “the love of God,” or some similar term; or it may be derived from the name of the boy’s native village, or from any other word which the Bishop thinks fit to choose. I know of one instance where a Bishop chose two French words for the purpose. He had intended to call the boy Velikoselski, after his native place, Velikoe Seló, which means “big village”; but finding that there was already a Velikoselski in the seminary, and being in a facetious frame of mind, he called the new comer Grandvillageski—a word that may perhaps sorely puzzle some philologist of the future.
Aside from the story, I had not realized priests were given new family names, and I thought it was interesting enough to pass along.