St. Nicholas Kasatkin, the missionary bishop of Japan, died 100 years ago today. He was remarkably well known in America, where both secular periodicals and Russian Church publications chronicled his ministry. The official newsletter of the Russian Mission was the Vestnik, known in English as the Russian Orthodox American Messenger and edited by Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky. When Bishop Nicholas died in 1912, the Vestnik ran a two-part article on Orthodoxy in Japan, beginning on March 14. They also published a brief eulogy, which we’ve reprinted below. While no author is credited for the eulogy, it was almost certainly written by Hotovitzky, who was not only the Vestnik editor but a sometime poet.
An irreparable loss! The Orthodox Church is mourning. Her most worthy son, the apostle of her teaching, has departed from earthly life. Before the news of the decease of the Most Reverend Nikolai, the glorious light-bringer of Japan, all the small struggles and discords which are vexing the organism of the Russian Orthodox Church shrink into insignificance. “Nikolai of Japan”: you have before you the most glorious page of the missionary work of the Orthodox Church, an Orthodox pastor’s service of more than fifty years in a foreign land, and what service! He gave himself up wholly to his sacred task, and wedding his bride, the Japanese Church, he kept those sacred ties unbroken until his latest breath. A unique example! While he lived, there was no need to prove to enquirers and questioners of the vitality of the Orthodox Church, and its missionary tendencies: it was enough to say “Nikolai of Japan”, and the whole world of other creeds and other faiths became silent in adoration: for all the powers of other creeds and other faiths could not show his equal among the ranks of their warriors!
Let us prostrate ourselves before thy sacred tomb, O light-bringer of Japan, true servant of Christ! And let us pray: — Be thou the representative, in the heavenly habitations, of thy beloved Orthodox Church, and may God save her from all injuries and obstacles, and may He send forth other light-bringers, even in part like to thee to illumine the world with the light of the Gospel of Christ!