Posts tagged 1893
In the life of St. Raphael Hawaweeny published by Antakya Press (page 24, to be precise), there’s a reference to an early Syrian/Antiochian chapel in New York, dating to 1893. The story goes that a visiting Antiochian priest, Archimandrite Christopher Jabara, established the chapel at Cedar and Washington Streets in New York City. Unbeknownst to the local Syrians, however, Jabara espoused a radical, heretical theology, rejecting the Holy Trinity and calling for the unification of all religions — and especially a merger of Orthodoxy with Islam. Jabara was a speaker at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and his talks were reported in the New York newspapers. Jabara was “compelled to leave the country” and eventually died in Egypt. To read more about Jabara, check out this article I wrote two years ago.
I haven’t been able to find much of anything about that original Syrian chapel, but I did recently stumble upon the following note in the June 12, 1893 issue of the New York Sun:
The members of the Syrian Orthodox Greek Church who have been worshipping in the Greek chapel in Fifty-third street have now a chapel of their own on the top floor of the building at the northeast corner of Cedar and West streets. The chapel was dedicated yesterday morning at 10 o’clock. The service, which was in Greek, Arabic, and Russian, was conducted by Archimandrite Christophoros Jebarah, assisted by two priests from the Russian war ships now in the harbor. The Russian Vice-Admiral and a party of Russian sailors attended the service.
Jabara’s own weirdness aside, this is a really fine example of early inter-Orthodox cooperation. At the time, the only Orthodox church in New York was Greek, so that’s where all the Orthodox went — regardless of ethnicity. (Other sources tell us that the local Russians also attended the Greek church.) And when the Syrians opened their own chapel, the visiting Russian clergy and sailors came out for the dedication. Orthodoxy was small and new in early 1890s America, and the Orthodox, of necessity, had to work together. Of course, once the necessity passed, the Orthodox were content to break up into their respective ethnic groups.
Anyway, the Syrian chapel failed pretty quickly. It’s clear that Jabara wasn’t the right man to lead the church, but two years later, the right man, Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny, arrived on the scene, leading the Syrians until his death two decades later.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
As we’ve discussed several times in the past, in 1893, a Greek archbishop visited the United States. His name was Archbishop Dionysius Latas of Zante, and he came to America to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. That’s where we last saw him; today, we’ll pick up Abp Dionysius’ trail after the Parliament concluded.
The Parliament ended in late September, 1893. In October, Abp Dionysius was present in Boston for the consecration of an Episcopalian bishop (Boston Globe, 10/6/1893). The next month, he went to St. Louis and was the guest of the Episcopal Bishop George Seymour, who happened to be a friend of the future Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine. A couple of days after that, Abp Dionysius made his way back to Chicago, where he delivered a speech at an Episcopal Church conference. In fact, that speech is a good deal more interesting than anything Abp Dionysius said at the Parliament of Religions, and we’ll reprint the text in its entirety here. From the Galveston Daily News (11/12/1893):
My brethren in Jesus Christ: I consider myself again very happy in presenting myself before this most reverend council of the eminent divines and minsiters of your holy church. (You will excuse me if I make any mistakes in a language which is foreign to me, and in which of necessity I am obliged to speak before you.)
It is not the first time that a Greek archbishop approaches the Episcopal church and enters into the temples of this church, so eminent a member of the Christian body, a member of the Christian family. I am not the first and I think I shall not be the last. Twenty years ago another Greek archbishop, the archbishop of Syra, Alexander Lycurgus, was in London, when the Anglican clergymen and the archbishop of Canterbury solemnly and demonstratively received him and introduced him in the cathedral church of St. Paul, where the Greek archbishop, standing on the platform of the church, had the honor to give the blessing to the clergymen and laymen of the Anglican church.
By the opportunity of my invitation and my presence at the religious congress in this city, I have also had the great honor to present myself more than once in your churches, on your tribunes and platforms; and I am not only invited to this honor, but I also come self-invited and quite voluntarily, from the feelings which I have, with other bishops of Greece, toward your holy church. And I thank your dignified bishops, especially Henry C. Potter, bishop of New York, who not only opened to me, with brotherly feelings, the doors of the churches, but at the same time opened their arms and embraced me and conducted me to the most honorable places of your temples.
As self-invited also, and as voluntarily coming into the presence of this eminent council of your church, I speak before you to-day sincerely and with heart full of love, as a brother in Christ, as a friend in the love of the divinely inspired Gospel.
I approve and admire your practical work, your struggle and perseverance, and your great expenditures for the diffusion and propagation of Christian doctrine in every part of our globe; and lastly, for the pure moral Christian education, without distinction, to all members of Christian communities. We have such an instance and testimony in our country — the school established under the direction of the persons of happy memory, the Rev. Mr. Hill and Mrs. Hill, the Americans who sacrificed their lives while working incessantly for their lovely Greece. This school was the first girls’ school in our classic land after the freedom of Greece, which gave, nearly fifty years ago, many well brought up mothers to many families, rich and poor, without any distinction; and for that reason the entire Greek nation expresses her gratitude especially to your Christian association and generally to your American people. We regard not with indifference your church, but we look always to your work with the deepest interest, with hearts full of love, and also with hope for the future.
As regarding this hope for the future, it suffices me to repeat here before you, word for word, my address which I pronounced in Trinity church, at Boston, during the holy service of the consecration of the new Bishop Lawrence. “It is certainly,” I said, “a great pleasure for you to see a new bishop in your circle, but your pleasure can not be greater than the one I experience in being here and looking at your reverend persons and listening to the divine service of your church. For in your church, and in the eminent divines of that church, one can see concentrated the hopes of the union in the future of all the Christian churches in the world. Surely you are Protestants, but at the same time you are also Catholics. You are Protestants on the one hand; you only can embrace all the other Protestant bodies. And, on the other hand, as Catholics, you alone can command the attention of the Catholic churches. For wh ile you have protested, you alone have retained a great part of the rites of Catholicism, and you have not rejected all the traditions of the Catholic church.
“Hence your church, sister to the one on account of protesting, sister also to the other on account of the Catholic traditions, is the center toward which all the eminent persons of the distinctive churches will cast their eyes in the future, when, by the grace of God, they will decide to take steps for the union of all the Christian world into one flock, under one shepherd or pastor. In this pre-eminent idea and hope for the future, I embrace the new bishop and all the other bishops here present as my brethren in Christ. I embrace your church, the pen and ink of which anxiously awaits a bright page in the future history of the Christian religion.”
Needless to say, this sort of speech was music to the ears of the Episcopalians who heard it. Abp Dionysius expressed exactly the sort of role that so many Episcopalians envisioned for their Church: the great center towards which the Protestants and the “Catholics” (Orthodox and Roman) would ultimately move. It is quite possible that Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, then an Episcopal priest, was present at Abp Dionysius’ speech. Years later, Irvine expressly rejected the idea that Anglicanism was the platform for Christian unity, instead arguing that Christian unity was possible only in the Orthodox Church — the “Mother Church of Christendom,” as he called it, the true Church from which all others had deviated. That Abp Dionysius adopted, not the Irvinian position (which really is the Orthodox position), but rather the standard Anglo-Catholic one, is rather remarkable.
After the Episcopal conference in Chicago, Abp Dionysius traveled west, visiting San Francisco in early December (Los Angeles Times, 12/17/1893). It isn’t clear whether he met with the Russian Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, but he almost certainly encountered some of the hundreds of Orthodox Christians in the city.
On his return trip to Greece, Abp Dionysius went across the Pacific. On a train ride from Singapore to Calcutta, he happened to run into a Methodist bishop, who invited him to attend a Methodist conference in Calcutta. Abp Dionysius accepted. According to one American periodical, “Although he remarked privately that Bishop Thoburn was not a real bishop, he bestowed upon him when taking leave the apostolic kiss” (Congregationalist, 4/26/1894). At his host’s request, Abp Dionysius delighted the Methodists by delivering St. Paul’s Mars Hill sermon in its original Greek. (Christian Advocate, 4/5/1894)
Abp Dionysius made it home to Greece by the middle of 1894, but soon thereafter, late in the summer, he died. The New York Observer and Chronicle (1/24/1895) offered a fine obituary:
Some interesting details connected with the death of Archbishop Dionysios Latas of Zante, who died last August, and whose name is familiar to Americans since his visit to Chicago the year before, have very recently been sent to this country by Bishop Potter. Archbishop Latas was greatly beloved by the people of Zante. As a preacher he was eloquent and tireless; and in his work as a leader of the clergy he was most efficient, giving to the island good priests, and developing those whom he had found already there.
His own training was well rounded. Besides his native tongue he was a master of German, Italian and English. He was distinguished by his fine presence and sonorous voice and by the gentleness and sweetness of his manners. Though far past the prime of life he had still before him many years of work. A writer in one of the Athenian journals, referring to the time of the late earthquake in Zante, says: “I remember him when the island was shaking and the houses falling in ruins, going about in his carriage through the narrow roads of the settlements from morning till night, comforting and advising, cheering and inspiring confidence in divine help, the only hope of people in the perilous state of the hapless Zacynthians. And I saw him, as they grasped his hand, secretly giving material help along with his prayers.”
The funeral took place with great magnificence, and in the midst of great emotion and sorrow, the people all through the two days previous flocking in crowds to the central church of the town, where the body had been placed, and reverently kissing the hand of their beloved priest.
A British writer, in the journal Academy, offered these comments (reprinted in The Dial, 10/1/1894):
A greater breadth of thought — acquired probably from his long studies in Germany — brought him closer to the intellectual classes in modern Greece than most of his brethren. Whenever he preached in the Metropolitan Church of Athens, the building was closely packed. When it was my privilege to hear him, his restrained yet burning eloquence and the but half suppressed applause of his hearers brought to my remembrance the accounts that are extant of the effect of the preaching of the Golden-mouthed [Chrysostom] at Constantinople, fifteen centuries ago.
Archbishop Dionysius Latas was 58 when he died, and had served as bishop of Zante (Zakhynthos) for ten years.
Not long ago, I wrote a pair of articles on the visit of the Greek archbishop Dionysius Latas to the United States. The archbishop came to America in 1893 to attend the ”World’s Parliament of Religions,” which was held in conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair. When we last left Abp Dionysius, he had visited New York and Washington and was on his way to the main event in Chicago. We’ll continue his story today.
Abp Dionysius and his deacon, Homer Paratis, arrived in Chicago in August or early September. The archbishop gave two addresses at the Parliament. His main talk focused on the history of religion in Greece, from the pre-Christian philosophers through the arrival of Christianity. He closed with this prayer:
Almighty King, most High Omnipotent God, look upon human kind; enlighten us that we may know Thy will, Thy ways, Thy holy truths; bless Thy holy truths; bless Thy holy Church. Bless this country. Magnify the renowned peoples of the United States of America, which in its greatness and happiness invited us to this place from the remotest parts of the earth, and gave us a place of honor in this Columbian year to witness with them the evidences of their great progress, and the wonderful achievements of the human mind.
The Parliament itself was a typically overambitious 19th century ecumenical gathering, and some of the participants had unrealistic goals of inter-religious union. In fact, one of those unduly optimistic compromisers was the Antiochian archimandrite Christopher Jabara, whom we’ve discussed in the past.
There were other Orthodox people there, too. Fr. Panagiotis Phiambolis, pastor of Chicago’s new Greek church, gave a speech of his own, and in many ways, it was more interesting than either of Abp Dionysius’ addresses. He was certainly not of one mind with Fr. Christopher Jabara. At the outset of his talk, Phiambolis said, “Believing is not the question — believing rightly is the question.” After referring to Rome’s schism from Orthodoxy, Phiambolis attacked Islam:
This division resulted in the prevention of Christianism and the progress of Mohammedanism, whose motto is, “Kill the Infidels,” because every one who is not a Mohammedan, according to the Koran of the prophet, is an infidel, is a dog. [...] The people of the orient suffered, and still suffer; the Christian virgins are dishonored by the followers of the moral prophet, and the life of a Christian is not considered as precious as that of a dog.
Phiambolis then spoke of the Orthodox Church:
Regarding the church, the orthodox church, we are true to the examples of the apostles and the paradigma of the synods, we follow the same road in religious questions, and after discussion do not accept new dogma without the agreement of the whole ecumenical council; neither do we adopt any dogma other than that of the one united and undivided church whose doctrine has been followed until to-day. The orthodox Apostolic Catholic church contains many different nations, and every one of them uses its own language in the mass and litany and governs its church independently, but all these nations have the same faith.
The Russian bishop of Alaska, Nicholas Ziorov, was at the Parliament on its opening day, but was conspicuously absent from the meetings themselves. According to the 1893 book The World’s Parliament of Religions, Bp Nicholas “met with the delegates and deeply regretted that his church duties called him from the city.” I’m not sure what those “church duties” were, and while I’m just speculating here, it’s possible that Bp Nicholas (or his superiors in Russia) did not want high-ranking Russian Orthodox churchman to participate in such a potentially questionable gathering. Of course, it could have been much simpler — Bp Nicholas simply could have had prior commitments.
The Parliament was more of a spectacle than anything else, and Fr. Christopher Jabara’s hopes for a single world religion were left unfulfilled. Abp Dionysius continued his tour of the United States, and we’ll pick up the rest of his journey in a future article.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Last week, I introduced Archbishop Dionysius Latas of Zante, a Greek hierarch who visited America in 1893. When we left his story, he had arrived in New York City and was en route to Saratoga Springs, where the Episcopalian Bishop Henry Potter had invited him. We’ll pick up the story there.
Abp Dionysius arrived in Saratoga Springs just as another international visitor, a Sikh Maharajah, was leaving the resort town. “Since the Maharajah’s departure the reigning foreign favorite has been the Archbishop of Greece,” the New York Times reported (8/6/1893). The paper went on, “The distinguished prelate is as approachable as his recent predecessor in Saratoga, and all who meet him find him most companionable. He is a man of fine physique, with a strong, intellectual face. He speaks excellent English and fluent French, which latter language he likes to use.”
By all accounts, the 57-year-old archbishop had a great time. “He has a keen eye,” the Times said, “which twinkles with humor.” He gave the New York Mail and Express his initial impressions of America (quoted in the New Orleans Picayune, 8/7/1893):
My impression of your country? Well, I started long before the date of meeting in Chicago, because I was so anxious to see America, and the longer I stay here the more I congratulate myself on this resolve. There is just one way to sum up my ideas as impressed upon me by this great city [New York City], and that is you Americans travel along much quicker than we do in Europe. Your rate of progress has not only enabled you to catch up in the comparatively short existence that the United States has enjoyed, but you have outdistanced us.
Within a few days, Abp Dionysius had made his way to Washington, DC, where he hoped to meet President Grover Cleveland. As it turned out, Cleveland was out of town. A Washington Post reporter caught up with Abp Dionysius, and observed that he had “a jolly face, a hearty laugh, and although he cannot always understand questions in English, he is quite communicative” (8/12/1893). He had decided to write a book about his experiences in America, and aimed to publish it upon his return to Greece. The Post reporter watched as the archbishop’s “scribe” (presumably his deacon) copied his Greek text.
Here are some more of Abp Dionysius’ observations, courtesy of the Post:
“It is very hot here,” said the archbishop, as he mopped his perspiring forehead. It was hot enough for him in his native land, he added, but there he spent his time in the country. He thought the country the best place in America as well, and with evident delight told of his visit to the Catskills in company with Bishop Potter of New York.
The archbishop spoke in high terms of America and Americans, and he evidently meant what he said. He had been impressed by the hospitality and “good heart” of the people in this country.
“Americans and Englishmen are different,” he said. “The Englishman is like this,” and then he drew in his head and put on a stiff, gloomy, and morose expression, which was comical in the extreme. “But the American,” he continued, changing his mood, “is always this way,” and the archbishop burst into a hearty laugh to illustrate what he meant.
“How long will you be in America?” he was asked.
“Perhaps three months,” was the reply, and the perhaps possibly meant if he did not go broke before that time, for he added that it cost a great deal more to travel here than elsewhere, and explained that what took a franc across the ocean requires a dollar here.
From Washington, Abp Dionysius returned to New York and then departed for Chicago, to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions.
In 1893, the World’s Fair was held in Chicago. In conjunction with the Fair, something called the “World’s Parliament of Religions” was held from September 11-27. This was a remarkable gathering, which brought together not only Christian leaders of various denominations, but people of every religious stripe — Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. It seems to have been more of a spectacle than anything substantive, although, as we’ve discussed previously, the crazy Antiochian archimandrite Christopher Jabara thought that perhaps the Parliament could come up with a brand-new, global religion. His hopes were unfulfilled.
Anyway, besides Jabara, at least two other Orthodox leaders gave speeches at the Parliament — Fr. Panagiotis Phiambolis of Chicago’s new Greek church, and Archbishop Dionysius Latas of Zante (Zakynthos). Latas was by far the most significant Orthodox figure at the gathering, and from the time of his arrival in America, he was a media sensation. He also happens to have been the first non-Russian Orthodox hierarch to set foot in the New World. This is the first of several articles that will chronicle his visit to America.
Latas arrived in America at the end of July, and on August 1, the New York newspapers ran stories about him. Here’s a brief biography, from the New York Tribune:
Dionysius Latas was born in Zante in 1836. At an early age he attended the Greek Seminary in Jerusalem, where he remained for ten years, afterward spending four years at the University of Athens. Later he studied for a year in the University of Strasburg, before the annexation to Germany, and three years at the universities of Berlin, Leipsic and other German universities, and then spent some time in England. From 1870 to 1884 he was the eloquent preacher of Athens, when he became Archbishop.
Latas was thus about 57 when he came to the United States. He was accompanied by his deacon, Homer Peratis, and one of their first stops was the new Greek church in New York. “I preached yesterday in the little Greek church in this city,” Latas told the New York Times (8/1/1893), “and it reminded me of the little churches I preached in years ago when I was an Archimandriti.”
Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but Latas was a very, very popular preacher when he was an archimandrite in Athens. I have a letter from a Protestant visitor to Athens in 1870 — so, just at the outset of Latas’ preaching career. This letter, written by a certan Rev. Dr. Goodwin of First Congregational Church in Chicago, was published in the New York Evangelist (7/21/1870), and provides a glimpse into the sort of figure the young (34-year-old) Latas was:
The chief sensation of Athens just now is a priest named Dionysius Latos, and among the mummeries dinning the ear on every side during these festivities, it was refreshing to find one service that was an exception. This young priest was originally one of the candle-snuffers, a lad of no education, and with no apparent gifts, except a fine rich voice. Promoted because of this to assist in the chorals, he somehow obtained leave to talk or preach, and astonished every one, and greatly captivated the people by his eloquence. He speedily acquired a wide notoriety, and won many friends. Among them was a rich Athenian, who proposed to him to spend three years in the schools of Germany and France, at his expense. He accepted the offer, spent time in diligent application, and has just returned, and is creating the highest enthusiasm.
I went on Friday morning to hear him preach, and found the church literally packed. And the Greek churches having no seats, admit of such a crowding as is entirely unknown to American audiences. There was no getting near the main entrance, the throng extending into the street. I found a side door, however, to the women’s gallery, and there at last succeeded, by climbing upon a pile of boards, in getting a view of the preacher and his congregation. Below me was a sea of men’s faces, all upturned toward a man of fine intellectual features, and searching dark eyes, and who in the black gown and round brimless hat or high stiff fez of a Greek priest, stood in a pulpit projecting from one of the columns near the middle of the church.
I was impressed at once with the earnestness of the preacher’s face and manner. There was that in the kindling of the eye, the tone of the voice, and the sweep of the hand even, that witnessed unmistakably to the preacher’s deep conviction of the truth and importance of his words. One could not look and listen without a conscious sympathy in response It would have been no common privilege to hear the language of Socrates and Demosthenes spoken, and that in their own Athens, with the distinctness and grace and fervor which marked the speaker’s utterance. Certainly there was a rhythm and music and richness about it that I had never imagined, and that seemed to thrill and move the people somewhat as did the great orators in those earlier days.
But when in the course of a fervent passage my ears caught in Greek the words, “Ye men of Athens,” and then following the whole discourse of Paul from Mars Hill, in the very words he used, and under the very shadow of the spot where he stood, I felt as if centuries were suddenly rolled back, and not a Greek priest, but a greater than he, and a greater than Demosthenes or Plato were there before me, preaching in this wonderful language Christ and Him crucified. I could only now and then understand a word, but caught enough to divine that the theme of the discourse was the love of God as revealed in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The preacher continued for a full hour and a half, closing with many quotations of Scripture and with much impassioned eloquence, and the people stood eager to the end. It is believed here by those who know Latos intimately, that he is in every respect heartily in sympathy with evangelical religion. And the hope is warmly cherished that he will prove to the Greek Church in Athens far more than Pere Hyacinthe to the Latin Church in Paris — a fearless and mighty apostle of the truth, that cannot be cajoled from his purpose by flatteries, nor silenced by threats.
Latas was a genuine sensation, and as a bishop, he remained a prominent figure in the Church of Greece. He spoke out against anti-Semitism, advocated (as did so many in those days) dialogue with the Episcopalians, and was skeptical that any sort of union would happen with Rome. When he came to the United States, he was warmly welcomed by the various Episcopalian bishops that he encountered. Immediately upon his arrival, he was invited by Bishop Henry Potter to join him at Saratoga Springs. We’ll pick up the Latas story there.