Grand Duke Alexis in the New York chapel, Thanksgiving 1871

Fr. Nicholas Bjerring in his New York chapel, Thanksgiving 1871. Grand Duke Alexis of Russia is standing behind the chair to the right.

From the New York Times, December 1, 1871:

Thanksgiving Day was observed by the Grand Duke Alexis yesterday in a very quiet manner. In the morning he went to the Greek Chapel at No. 951 Second-avenue, accompanied by Minister Catacazy, Admiral Poisset, the Secretary of Legation and Consul-General Bodisco. By 9 o’clock the privileged few who had tickets of admission to the chapel began to assemble. A serving-man was at the outer door, and he assisted each gentleman to lay aside his overcoat and hat, and showed all into the front parlor or auditorium of the chapel.

There were not more than twenty persons in all. The ladies stood on the left side of the room looking toward the chancel or back parlor, the gentlemen on the right. Prince Gallitzin, the Russian impressario, was among the earliest arrivals. The few present were, with perhaps one or two exceptions, members of the Greek Church. The chapel was lighted up before 10 o’clock, and Father Bjerring, his assistant and the chaplain of the Svetlana, stood robed at the door through which His Imperial Highness must enter, awaiting him. Father Bjerring held a massive gold crucifix, and his assistant a holy water font and “aspersion whisk.” At about 10:40, some commotion was heard at the hall door, and immediately after the Grand Duke appeared at the chapel door, kissed the crucifix presented, crossed himself and received the holy water. The whole party entered and stood in front of the chancel. Father Bjerring then chanted a “Te Deum” in English, comprising also the prayers for the Emperor of Russia and the President of the United States. His assistant repeated the same in Slavic, and the services concluded. They did not last longer than twenty-five minutes, after which the Imperial party saluted the chaplain of the Svetlana and retired.