This week in American Orthodox history (Sept. 17-23)
September 18, 1905: On the very same day, two big events took place:
- St. Tikhon Bellavin, the Russian Archbishop of North America, elevated Fr. Sebastian Dabovich to the rank of archimandrite. Dabovich was the leader of the Serbian Orthodox in America, and Tikhon planned to make him a bishop, although that never happened. Tikhon gave one of his own miters (crowns) to Dabovich, and years later, Dabovich auctioned off the miter to support the Serbian war effort. To read more about that, click here. (In fact, if you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to make a big historical discovery, you might consider helping figure out what happened to the miter.)
- Late at night, a gunfight between the Orthodox Syrian and their Maronite Catholic counterparts took place in Brooklyn. St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the Bishop of Brooklyn, was there, and he was arrested along with a bunch of others. I did a whole series of articles on this mess awhile back, and it’s a pretty crazy story. (I still need to get around to finishing that series, actually.)
September 18, 1907: Archbishop Platon Rozhdestvensky arrived in America to replace St. Tikhon as Archbishop of North America. Platon served here until 1914, but he returned as a refugee after the Bolshevik Revolution and ended up leading the Russian Metropolia until his death.
September 17, 1914: Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi of Baalbek arrived in America on a fundraising visit for an agricultural school in his archdiocese back in Syria. But St. Raphael soon fell ill and died, and a lot of Syrian-Americans really liked Germanos, and Germanos really liked America, and a World War was going on, so… why go back? Germanos tried to stake his own ecclesiastical claim in America after St. Raphael’s 1915 death, leading to the Russy-Antacky schism among the Arab Orthodox in America. But in September 1914, all that was in the future, and Germanos was welcomed by pretty much everyone.
September 19, 1916: Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America, wrote a letter against black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. I wrote an article about Morgan’s letter in March 2010; click here to read it.
September 19, 1920: Brand-new convert priest Fr. Patrick Mythen was elevated to the rank of archimandrite by Archbishop Alexander Nemolovsky. Mythen was a religious chameleon who was Catholic, and then Episcopalian, and then Catholic, and then Episcopalian, and then a sort-of-kind-of Theosophist, and then Orthodox, and finally Catholic again before his tragic young death in the mid-1920s. During his brief stint as an Orthodox priest, Mythen was given considerable authority, helping run the Russian Archdiocese during probably the craziest period in the history of Orthodoxy in America.
September 18, 1938: Bishop Orestes Chornock was consecrated in Constantinople to become the first head of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD). He led the diocese until his death in 1977. Fr. Lawrence Barringer wrote a biography of Bishop Orestes, Good Victory, which was published by Holy Cross in 1985.
September 21, 1996: The new Greek Archbishop Spyridon was enthroned in New York. To say that that worked out badly would be the understatement of the year, but I hesitate to say anything more because 1996 wasn’t all that long ago.
September 18, 1999: In a nice bit of symmetry, three years to the week after Archbishop Spyridon’s enthronement, his replacement, Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, was enthroned. That worked out a lot better, to say the least. In addition to his duties with the GOA and the broader Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Demetrios chairs the Assembly of Bishops, which held its latest meeting in Chicago last week.
September 22, 2000: Longtime ROCOR Archbishop Anthony Medvedev of San Francisco died. He was consecrated for ROCOR’s Australian diocese in 1956, and in the late ’60s, he succeeded the departed St. John Maximovitch as Archbishop of San Francisco. He held that position for over three decades, until his death at the age of 92.