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Posts by Nicholas Chapman
Editor’s note: We’re extremely pleased to present another article by Nicholas Chapman, who continues to excavate the very earliest origins of Orthodoxy in America. To read more about Nicholas and his exciting research, check out the upcoming edition of the journal Road to Emmaus, which features a lengthy interview with Nicholas. Also, if you’re coming to our SOCHA symposium at Princeton later this month, you’ll have an opportunity to hear Nicholas present a 20-minute lecture on his work.
In my first article on Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia published on this web site nearly two years ago, I mentioned in passing that the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Russia had retrospectively approved of Colonel Philip Ludwell III’s translation of the Orthodox Confession of Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev. At that time I was not aware that this translation was in fact published and distributed.
I cannot presently be certain at what exact time Ludwell made this translation, but it must have been some time between his conversion to Orthodoxy at the end of 1738 and his move to London in the summer of 1760. In any event the first edition was published in London, England in 1762 and during a visit to the British Library this past spring I was able to handle and read a copy of the original edition. Aside from the translation of the catechism itself it contains a preface by the translator (Ludwell) as well as a few other inserted details, all of which have much to tell us about the mind and intention of the man who may be America’s first convert to the Orthodox Faith.
The book is slim brown leather bound volume of some 209 pages, printed in black ink. It has on the spine Greek Church Orthodox Confession and London 1762. The front cover is marked only with a beautiful gold embossed crown. The title page contains the following (I was unable to make a digital copy so what follows is my copy typing of the original, leaving the mid eighteenth century English unchanged. If you remember to change that the letter f can be read, as s the meaning should be clear.) :
The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church; Faithfully Translated from the Originals
Meditate upon thefe Things, give thyself wholly to them; ———-
Take heed unto thyfelf, and unto thy Doctrine; continue in them: For in fo doing thou fhalt fave thyfelf.——
1 Tim. Iv. 15. & 16.
Printed in A.D. MDCC LXII
As Moghila’s work seems to have originally been published in both Latin and Greek, the title page information seems to suggest that Ludwell had access to both texts in making his translation. The biblical quotations chosen by Ludwell seem to indicate that the purpose of the catechism is the salvation of the individual reader. The translator’s preface that follows on the next page reveals more fully Ludwell’s purpose and mission:
Devout Chriftian Reader.
Be pleafed to accept this Labour of Love, of thine unworthy Fellow-Servant; who mindful of the Command, “When thou art converted, ftrenghten “thy Brethren,” prefenteth, with all Humility, thefe his Endeavours, for thine Attainment of the Truth, and everlafting Salvation: And, in return, affift him with thy Prayers, to the Throne of Grace and Mercy; that, whilft he offereth Inftruction to others, he may fo take Heed unto himfelf, that he become not a Caft-away.
Thus faith the Lord, Stand ye in the Ways, and fee, and afk for the old Paths, where is the good Way, and walk therein, and ye fhall find Reft for your Souls.
Jerem. Vi. 16.
Unto you that fear my Name, fhall the Sun of Righteoufnefs arife with healing in his Wings. Mal. Iv. 2.
These words and quotations, although brief, clearly indicate an apostolic intention on the part of Ludwell, to reveal the fullness of the Orthodox Faith to his fellow British and British American countryman. At the same time he does not see them as being radically “other” but as fellow believers whose present understanding of the Faith needs to be strengthen by a return to the “old paths” which he understood to be found in the Orthodox Faith. As such he stands within the best tradition of Orthodox mission that seeks to recognize all that is good and of God in a culture and then to show how it may be completed within the Orthodox tradition.
I have not been able to ascertain how many copies of this original edition were published and how widely they were circulated. Clearly it did circulate. There is a fascinating article in the Scottish Review published in Paisley, Scotland in January 1892. The article is entitled Translated Greek Office Books. The author of this extensive article turns out to be no less than the Rev. Fr. Stephen Hatherly the late nineteenth century English convert to Orthodoxy who briefly attempted to start an Orthodox mission in New York in the 1880’s. (Click here for more information.) Hatherly writes as follows of Ludwell’s (aka Lodvel’s) work:
Another English writer on the subject of the Greek Church who preceded Dr. King is Col. Lodvel. The work attributed to him is one of the most important in the ample oriental ecclesiastical library. Dr. King alludes to the original of the work, and to three translation, though it publication had a ten years’ start of his book.
Here Hatherly is saying that Dr. King did not know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation. Dr. King was Dr. John Glen King D.D. who in 1764 had been appointed Chaplain of the English Factory in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1772, he published in London his opus magnum The Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church in Russia; containing an account of its Doctrine,Worship and Discipline. Hatherly says of this work that it is now a scarce book and is likely to become scarcer, being bought up on every opportunity at American account. (Emphasis mine.)
Having pointed out that King did not seem to know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation, Hatherly then reveals that he has in front of him a personally inscribed copy. He writes:
After the word ‘originals’ in the title page, there is, in a clear old fashioned handwriting, the addition, ‘of Nectarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem; Parthenius, Patriarch of Constantinople; and the catechism of Petr Mogilaw, Archbishop of Kiow. And afterwards, with a coarser pen, and inferior ink, ‘By Col. Lodvel, father to Mrs. Paradise.’
Did Hatherly make use of Ludwell’s work during his abortive Orthodox mission in the USA and how many copies had already crossed the Atlantic in the 120+ years preceding it? A quick search suggests that no original physical copies are held in any US library, but given the sturdy, handsomely bound volume I held in my hands this past April, I find it difficult to believe that more copies have not survived.
Copyright – Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, NY, September 11, 2011
This is about as unlikely a title for an article on American Orthodox history I ever expected to come up with! But a visit to a used bookstore in Canada a week ago has thrown up some whole new avenues for research. I found a slender volume entitled “Lincoln and the Russians.” (Woldman, Albert A., Lincoln and the Russians. New York: Collier Books, 1952. ) I haven’t finished reading the book yet but it already underscores to me how essential it is to research the history of Orthodoxy in the Americas within the wider context of the relationship between the “Great Powers” of the world stage from the fifteenth century to the present. (More on this theme at a later date, God willing.)
The story I want to recount today is not found in this book: rather a search suggested itself to me after I started reading the book. So here is the headline:
An Orthodox Christian fired the First Shot in the American Civil War!
How could this be you ask? Well, truth is, there seem to be a number of different understandings of what constitutes the first shot of the Civil War and who it was that fired it. But I want to share one of the most common ones here as it relates to a fascinating detail of Orthodox history in the USA. In 2011 we are remembering the one hundred and fiftieth outbreak of the civil war, which is generally dated to April 12, 1861. That was the day the Confederates opened fire on the Union controlled Ft. Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. (Some people reckon the date back to January 9, 1861 when the ship “The Star of the West” was sent to re-supply the Union forces in Charleston harbor and was driven away by Confederate fire.)
According to Southern folklore, it was the young daughter of the Governor of South Carolina who was given a lighted taper to fire the first cannon, by her father the Governor. (Some versions place this in January, some in April 1861.) What is well documented is that the Governor of South Carolina was Francis W. Pickens. He became Governor only weeks before South Carolina became the first state to secede form the Union on December 20, 1860. His daughter was also given the name Francis, although she was more commonly referred to as “Douschka. “ (That’s Russian for “Little Darling.) The little girl’s Russian connection is also suggested by her full legal name: Francis Eugenia Olga Neva Pickens.
So what was Francis W Pickens doing before he became the sixty-ninth Governor of South Carolina? (As an aside it is interesting to note that Philip Ludwell I is officially listed as the ninth.) Pickens was the US Ambassador to Russia. Whilst there, he and his third wife, Lucy Petway Holcombe, became intimate friends of the Russian Czar Alexander and his German born wife Marie of Hesse. Such close friends that when the Pickens’s daughter was born they agreed that she would be baptized as an Orthodox Christian and the Czar and Czarina stood as her Godparents. It was the Czarina who insisted she take the names “Olga” and “Neva.” The Czar simply took to calling her “Douschka.” The baptism took place in the Imperial palace in St. Petersburg in 1859.
I have found no evidence thus far to suggest that Governor Pickens or his wife Lucy embraced Orthodoxy. However, they are said to have studied the differences between Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant doctrine. There is also a very beautiful account of their attending the Easter Night service in St. Petersburg.
Lucy Pickens went on to be known as “The Queen of the Confederacy” and she is the only woman depicted on the currency of the Confederate States of America. The “Holcombe Legion” of the Confederate Army was named after her and she reputedly funded it by the sale of diamonds given her by the Russian Czar. Douschka likewise went on to live a colorful life and became known as “The Joan of Arc of Carolina.” This was for her leadership in the post Civil War “Red Shirt” movement which fought openly to defeat Republican political candidates and limit the civil rights of the newly freed black population. All very ironic, given that it was her Godfather, Alexander II who liberated the serfs in Russia!
To conclude, here is the Douschka Pickens Civil War story as recounted in a book from the beginning of the twentieth century:
“It is said that General Pickens on the twelfth day of April, 1861, at Charleston, took his little daughter in his arms and placed in her tiny hand the lighted match that fired the first gun of the war on Ft. Sumter. Mrs. Pickens held all through her life the friendship of the Imperial Family of Russia, and on the marriage of their daughter, ‘Douschka,’ a silver tea service was sent to her by the Imperial Family.” (Logan, Mrs. John A, The Part Taken by Women in American History, Wilmington, Delaware: The Perry-Nalle Publishing Co., 1912.)
Copyright – Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, New York, June 27, 2011
Editor’s note: Over the past several weeks, we have been publishing some historical documents which Nicholas Chapman recently discovered in London. Here are the relevant links:
- Nicholas’ introduction to the documents
- A letter by St. Philaret of Moscow on Orthodoxy in America in 1865
- A letter by Agapius Honcharenko in defense of himself
Today, we’re publishing the final document in this series — a report detailing the case against Honcharenko. We don’t know who wrote this report, but it provides previously unknown details on Honcharenko’s life prior to his arrival in America. This document was translated from Russian by Matushka Marie Meyendorff.
From 1857 to 1860 at the church of our mission in Athens there served the Hierodeacon Agafy. He was the son of a priest. Agafy had completed a course of studies at the Seminary in Kiev in 1853.
He entered the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra. In 1856 he was ordained to the hiero-deaconate. In 1857, according to the testimony of the deceased Metropolitan of Kiev, Philaret, Agafy was sent by the Holy Synod to the post which had opened of Hierodeacon at our church in Athens.
From the beginning of his arrival in Athens, Agafy (as was reported in 1860 by the previous rector of the Church in Athens, Archimandrite Antonin) showed a tendency against the fulfilment of the rules of the life of a monk. He lacked friendliness towards the persons who formed his parish and had an especially negative attitude towards the rector. In January 1860 a boy of around 16 declared to Archimandrite Antonin that Agafy, for a long time, had hounded him with impolite words and at last made an improper proposition. When confronted with the accuser, Agafy agreed and said that he did it with the aim to learn if the rector himself did not have a similar relationship with the named person. After that it was declared to Agafy that he should find another place of work, This is why he was given a position that removed him from the church in Athens. Soon after that was found, glued to the wall of the tower adjacent to the church of the embassy a slander against Archimandrite Antonin. When it was found that a similar slander was written also in the bell; Agafy was sent to Russia. He left on February 2, 1860.
In that same year, 1860, the former ambassador to Greece wrote in a secret letter [?], to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, that the basic idea directing Agafy’s life was that all in the world is a convention and that everything can be understood whatever way one wants to. As a result of this, Agafy had a secret opposition to everything legal and generally accepted. He rejected all order and was repulsed by every constraint. This attitude brought him to the deepest and dirtiest amorality. He showed a noticeable pleasure in the degrading of the motherland, of spiritual knowledge, and of everything in general which is respected. He showed a sympathy to the …….; he presented ideas for the independence of “Little Russia” [Left bank Ukraine]; he expressed a clear dissatisfaction with Orthodoxy; and he rejected the need for confession. In the last period,[xx?] he displayed an unorthodox conviction toward a rapprochement with the American proselytiser of Lutherism in Greece, Ioan Kinlom. With his help, Agafy was supplied at his arrival from Athens with many letters of recommendation.
On his trip to Russia from Constantinople, he xx Malta and from there he removed his diaconal clothing and left for London. In August 1861 the Holy Synod took into consideration this above described action of the former hierodeacon Agafy (the fact that from February 1860 he was in a self decided absence) and decided to consider the designated hierodeacon Agafy as being defrocked and excluded from the clergy.
About the information received in 1864 that Agafy having returned to Athens in the Spring of 1863 continued, by anonymous letters, to bring shame on Archimandrite Antonin, there was a contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting Agafy be sent from Athens to Russia. The decision was transmitted to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in April 28, 1861 No. 4899.
The ministry responded that they do not have the possibility to forcibly return Agafy to Russia. It asked our Ambassador in Athens to look for ways to remove Agafy from Greece.
In Athens our representative informed us that Agafy (who was living then in Athens in the Greek monastery of Tendely) forcefully denies the anonymous letters about which Fr Antonin complained.
Editor’s note: Today, we present the second of three historical documents recently discovered by Nicholas Chapman. On August 24, we published Nicholas’ introduction to the documents, and last week, we published a letter by St. Philaret of Moscow on the subject of Orthodoxy in America in 1865. Today’s document is an 1865 letter from Agapius Honcharenko to a priest. While the recipient is not identified by name, Nicholas notes that the priest was “most likely the Rev. Eugene Popov, the Russian Priest in London, England.” The initial translation of this letter has been provided by Matushka Marie Meyendorff.
The letter isn’t dated, but we can get a good idea of when it was written from this sentence: “I received today a letter from New Orleans, from the Greek Consul …… to go there and baptize four children and ten Illyrians.” On March 26, 1865, the New York Times reported that Honcharenko was to depart for New Orleans “in a few days.” It is thus probable that the letter was written shortly before that date.
Very Reverend Father,
I have always regretted and wondered why in the new world there is no Catholic Orthodox faith and because of this having prepared myself with the necessary objects for a church service: of course icons, vestments etc. Last fall on October 1 I embarked from Smyrna on an American ship and left for America having received the ordination to the priesthood, the holy antimens and the holy myrrh with a letter from the Great Church. I arrived on Dec 21 and on Dec 25, the day of the birth of Christ, in our Orthodox dogma, among the Greeks, was performed the first liturgy on this continent since the time of Columbus.
In the Republic I find in the official documents seven thousand Orthodox Slavs, (Illyrian Dalmatians of Montenegro) , three thousand Russians and three thousand Greeks. These sheep live from birth without a Pastor. The Slavs and Russians, although they are citizens of the Republic…….. But they ask with all the soul addressing themselves to Russia, asking that the Russian Synod send a blessing for their church meetings and they ask to have the petition at the litany to commemorate the Emperor Alexander II and the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia as a symbol of the unity with the Russian Church. As I am a citizen of Greece, during my services I commemorate the Greek King and Synod and the Slavs do not wish this. During the several days of my stay in New York I baptized a few friendly …. (eight) and two Russians. I received today a letter from New Orleans, from the Greek Consul …… to go there and baptize four children and ten Illyrians.
By birth I am a Russian and I served at the Russian Church in Athens as a deacon. My unfortunate fate…….. (March 15, 1860) Unfairness of people …… made me become a Greek citizen. I am also with my soul and body dedicated to the Russian people…. The Russian government . Prince Gorchokov is convinced of this. But why does not the Russian Holy Synod recognise the truth of what I say?!!!
I am addressing you the deepest request very very Reverend Father. I have heard a lot about the goodness of your soul. Please pay attention to me and to the goodwill of the Orthodox Church and ask the petition for me that I would receive the blessing upon my sheep, both Slavs and Russians, from the Holy Synod, because I am the only and first Pastor of the Orthodox Church on this continent and the Pastor for all the Orthodox sheep of the flock of Christ.
I remain with the deepest respect ,
Priest Agapius Honcharenko
47 Exchange Place, Room 19, New York
Editor’s note: Last week, Nicholas Chapman introduced three documents he found in the National Archives in London, under the heading “The Russian Orthodox Church in America and Its Clergy in 1865.” Today, we present the first of these documents — a letter from His Holiness Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, to the Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod of Russia, February 26, 1865. Nicholas Chapman explains, “The author of this document was Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov) who served as Metropolitan of Moscow for from 1826-1867. Metropolitan Innocent, since canonized as the ‘Apostle to America,’ succeeded him.” This draft translation has been provided by Matushka Marie Meyendorff.
One final note: St. Philaret makes reference to a Christmas liturgy celebrated by Honcharenko in New York. This appears to have been the first Orthodox liturgy in the history of New York City (or, for that matter, the first known liturgy in the eastern United States). It is earlier than the better-known liturgy celebrated by Honcharenko a couple of months later (and discussed here and here).
When the American spiritual leaders first showed the desire to have an Orthodox Church in America it seemed necessary for California but not for New York. Now a new outlook appears.
Already a priest has received from the Holy Church of Constantinople the antimens and the Holy Chrism. He has arrived in America and on the day of the birth of Christ performed there the first Orthodox liturgy from the time of the discovery of America. Then he performed the baptism of eight Slavs and two Russians. He writes, “I found there seven thousand Slavs, three thousand Greeks and three thousand Russians, without a Pastor.” If this is true, it is a strong reason to have in America a Russian Orthodox Church.
We are attaching to this a copy of the letter of Agapius Honcharenko written to the Editor of the newspaper “Orthodox Overview.” Won’t you take the decision if something should be done about this situation?