St. John comes to Chicago, 1895

This article was originally published one year ago, on November 2, 2009.   This past weekend, those of us on the New Calendar celebrated the feast day of St. John Kochurov, the Russian New Martyr and former priest of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a bit about St.…

P.T. Barnum’s widow married in NY Greek church

P.T. Barnum was the greatest showman of the 19th century. Today, he’s most closely associated with the circus that bears his name, but in his own day, he was much more than a circus organizer. In an era before blockbuster movies, Barnum was the closest you could get to a larger-than-life Hollywood producer. He was…

Organs in Greek Orthodox churches

As regular readers of this website know, I am particularly interested in the “Americanization” of Orthodoxy in the New World — things like clergy appearance (beards vs. shaved faces, cassocks vs. collars), pews, church music (organs and mixed choirs), early converts, the use of English, and so forth. Today, I’m going to talk about organ…

To shave or not to shave?

For three tumultuous decades — 1907 to 1938 — Fr. Basil Kerbawy was the dean of St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn. Apparently, in 1911, he was having some issues related to his beard, and things got so bad that he wrote to William Gaynor, the mayor of New York. I can’t resist reprinting their…

Early Orthodoxy in Portland, Oregon

Orthodoxy has been in Portland, Oregon for well over a century, and its history is of particular interest to me, as my in-laws live in the city, and I have visited there many times. Today, we’re going to look at the beginnings of organized parish life in Portland. According to Brigit Farley, there are records of…

The many names of Chicago’s Russian church

Sometimes, we historians deal with big, important issues. Other times, we obsess over minutae. Today is one of the latter occasions. Chicago’s OCA cathedral, known for the past century as Holy Trinity, had a lot of names in its early years. It’s a pretty convoluted history, and I am attempting to unravel it. Here’s what…

The controversial Fr. Basil Bouroff

Yesterday, I wrote about St. John Kochurov’s arrival in Chicago, which followed on the heels of Fr. B.A. Bouroff’s expulsion by Bishop Nicholas, on the grounds that Bouroff had taken classes at the University of Chicago. But who was this Fr. Bouroff, and what was his story? As it turns out, the September 2, 1895…

St. John comes to Chicago, 1895

This past weekend, those of us on the New Calendar celebrated the feast day of St. John Kochurov, the Russian New Martyr and former priest of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a bit about St. John’s arrival in Chicago. John Kochurov was just 24 years old when…

A Russian Church in New York, 1895

Since the closing of Fr. Nicholas Bjerring’s chapel in 1883, New York City had been without a Russian Orthodox place of worship. Greek churches were founded in the city in 1892 and ’94, and by 1895, there were Russian parishes in Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Finally, in April of 1895, the Russian Mission returned to…

Fr. Ambrose Vretta: pioneering priest in Chicago & Seattle

In the past, I’ve mentioned the Russian Mission’s practice of employing “client clergy” — non-Russian priests with ties to Russia, who served multiethnic or non-Russian parishes in America. St. Raphael and Fr. Sebastian Dabovich are perhaps the most famous examples, but there were many more. One of the earliest of these client clergy was Fr. Ambrose…