Posts tagged 1905
Starting up another potentially regular feature here at OrthodoxHistory.org…
This photo, dated 1905, shows Fr. John Kochurov preaching from the pulpit in the newly-constructed Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago. It’s one of several great shots of Holy Trinity to be found in the Chicago Daily News photo collection, available online via the Library of Congress website. We’ll post more of these Chicago photos in the future.
The Library of Congress website has all sorts of great resources, including a collection of old photos from the Chicago Daily News. The following five photos are of the newly-built Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago.
– Matthew Namee
On November 4, 1905, a religious and literary journal entitled The Friend published a letter by St. Alexander Hotovitzky, dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. Hotovitzky wrote in response to an article in The Friend which claimed, “In this Russian service, of course, no one understood what was said, not even the Russians themselves, as the whole of it was in the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue. As the Romish Church addresses the Lord in Latin, so do the Greeks use this Slavonic language.” Here is Hotovitzky’s reply:
This is not true.
1. Our ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue is the original of modern Russian, Servian, Slavonian, and of other branches of the Slavic world.
2. Every Russian, even children (of school age) understands well the real text and meaning of all prayers in Slavonic, excluding, perhaps, not many expressions which are lost for living use and are not fitting for ordinary practice.
3. Easy to be understood, this Slavonic language has, besides, immense dignity of words, and is sanctified as proper church language by long ecclesiastical usage.
4. To compare the use of the Latin tongue in the Roman Church and of Slavonic in the Russian is, then, far from consistency and knowledge of true conditions of things, because the chief rule of the Eastern Church (which combines Russia, Greece, Jerusalem, Antiochia, etc.) is to say the divine services in the language of the people for whom the services are intended; in Japan we celebrate and preach in Japanese, in China in Chinese, in Alaska in the native tongue of the Aleutians, and in some churches of America in English, always according to the needs and understanding of the congregation.
5. Russians do not understand Greek, and Greeks do not understand the Russian; so in a Greek church you never hear one word of the Slavonic tongue, and vice versa; yet both are of the same Eastern Catholic confession.
A. Hotovitzky, Dean of the Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral.
New York, Ninth Month 24, 1905.
I’m particularly interested in St. Alexander’s point about the use of English in some American Orthodox parishes. This was 1905; the very next year, Isabel Hapgood published her landmark English translation of the Service Book, facilitating the wider use of English. But Slavonic would remain the dominant language of the Russian Archdiocese for years to come. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports that 166 of the 169 Russian Orthodox congregations in America worshipped exclusively in Slavonic.
In fact, among American Orthodox groups, only St. Raphael’s Syrians (Antiochians) really embraced English in the early years of the 20th century. Although they liturgized exclusively in Arabic in 1906, by 1916, over half of the Syrian parishes had completely switched to English, and numerous others had incorporated English to one degree or another. In fact, in 1916, no more than four of the 25 Syrian congregations continued to worship in Arabic alone. It was a remarkable, dramatic shift that probably had several contributing causes, including the vision of St. Raphael, the influence of Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, and the translation work of Isabel Hapgood. For more, check out my article from August 21 of last year.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
In my last article, I wrote about the “Battle of Pacific Street” — the gunfight between Syrian Orthodox and Maronites in Brooklyn on the night of September 18, 1905. As I said before, St. Raphael Hawaweeny fled the scene and was chased (and then arrested) by a policeman, Officer Mallon. According to Mallon, St. Raphael pulled out a revolver and tried to shoot the officer. According to St. Raphael, he did no such thing, and, for that matter, had never even handled a gun in his entire life.
The next day’s newspapers weren’t in agreement about what had supposedly happened. On one end of the spectrum was the Times, which didn’t even mention a gun. At the other extreme was the World, which not only reported that St. Raphael had a revolver, but that he ”snapped” it at Officer Mallon. Accounts began to crystallize on August 20. In that day’s issue of the Sun, we find this:
[Officer] Nallin says he saw two men break away. He gave chase. One of them was the Bishop, who was hot-footing it toward home. Nallin grabbed the episcopal coat tails. It was then, Nallin avers, that the Bishop turned around and shoved a pearl handled pistol in his face. He snapped it twice, but it didn’t go off.
The Tribune (9/20), also citing Officer Mallon’s sworn testimony, reported that St. Raphael had snapped the revolver three times, rather than twice. The Sun also reported Officer Mallon’s accusation that St. Raphael had actually fired the revolver in the battle, before turning it on the policeman. And here’s the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (9/19):
[Officer] Nallin declares, and swore to his declaration in a complaint made against the bishop, that the prelate held the pistol at him and snapped it more than on ce. It did not go off, for maybe there were rim firing cartridges in a center firing gun; but this the police cannot know, for they have not found the bishop’s revolver, if he had one. Hawaweeny, the policeman says, then took to his heels in a most undignified way and ran away. Nallin was after him like a shot, for there were other policemen by this time attending to the other men in the shooting party, and he caught the bishop, as has been explained, hiding behind a wagon in the express company’s stable.
What about St. Raphael’s own version of the incident? Here is what he told the World (9/19): “As soon as the firing began I fled and took refuge in a carriage shop. I did not have a revolver at any time during the excitement and this policeman who says I did knows that he is telling a deliberate falsehood. He admits that he did not find any weapon in my possession when he made me a prisoner.” According to St. Raphael’s followers, his arrest part of a pre-arranged plot, which allegedly included the police. The Tribune (9/20) offered this report:
The friends of Bishop Raphael assert that his arrest was the result of a plot. Men were especially brought from Asbury Park and Fishkill, it was said, by his enemies to assault his followers. N. Maloof, one of the faction opposed to the bishop, was arrested Monday for assaulting one of the latter’s friends. He threatened, it is alleged, that Bishop Raphael would be arrested before midnight, and he was. The bishop’s friends say that he carried no revolver, but that one was supplied for the occasion by his enemies. He ran away when the detectives arrived because he believed he was being pursued by the men who threatened his life.
We are left with three possibilities:
- Officer Mallon was mistaken,
- Officer Mallon was lying, or
- St. Raphael was lying.
Now, let me say something up front, as we begin our analysis of the available evidence: I am a huge admirer of St. Raphael. He is, without question, my favorite American Orthodox historical figure. My own son’s middle name is Raphael, in his honor. It is impossible for me to be completely objective about this case, because I am admittedly biased in favor of St. Raphael. At the same time, I cannot simply ignore inconvenient evidence, or refuse to pursue possibilities that might leave St. Raphael looking less than clean. To be an honest historian, I have to look at everything. And so I will.
Anyway, let’s consider what we can. Is it possible that Officer Mallon was mistaken? Of course. The incident happened after 11 PM, and this was 1905, so we can be certain that it was very dark. Accounts indicate that Officer Mallon chased after two men — St. Raphael, and someone else. It is entirely plausible that the other man pointed a gun at the officer. Also, the newspapers indicate that many people came out into the streets to see what had happened. According to the Tribune, by the time Officer Mallon arrived at the scene, the mob “numbered nearly two hundred persons.” The two dozen or so combatants were scattering in all directions, trying to avoid being either shot or arrested. So there were plenty of people in the street at the time.
Even Police Inspector Cross, who took charge of the case, was skeptical of St. Raphael’s guilt. Inspector Cross received a letter from a Russian official, attesting to the bishop’s good character, and Cross responded, “I am investigating the matter, and I am satisfied that the Bishop is innocent of all the charges and accusations that have been made against him, and I shall be pleased to have you communicate this information to the Consul-General of Russia” (Sun, 9/22). The inspector questioned Officer Mallon, who, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (9/22) reported, said “that he could not be mistaken about it and that the bishop had pulled a revolver on him and snapped the trigger, just as he had sworn in court.”
It’s also worth noting that most low-level policemen, like Mallon, weren’t trained in police academies like our officers today. Mallon may have been a police officer, but his value as a witness isn’t necessarily any better than your average man on the street.
This leads us to our second possibility — that Officer Mallon was lying. See, besides being uneducated, many of New York’s policemen in 1905 were, to one degree or another, corrupt. Just a few months before all this chaos, another Officer Mallon was convicted of murder. I haven’t been able to track down our Officer Mallon’s first name, much less his biography, and it doesn’t help that literally each newspaper uses a different spelling of his name. But regardless of the spelling you use, there is a very, very distinct possibility that Officer Mallon was Irish. And if he was Irish, he was probably a Roman Catholic. Given that the Syrian war was between two religious factions, and one of those factions was itself Roman Catholic, it’s certainly possible that Officer Mallon lied to benefit his co-religionists. I don’t have any evidence for this, but it’s something that must be considered as we try to determine the truth.
Finally, there is the remote possibility that St. Raphael himself was lying. Let us, for a moment, try to set aside the fact that we’re dealing with a canonized saint, and try to approach this with as open a mind as we can. St. Raphael Hawaweeny was an Orthodox bishop. He had good reason to believe that his life was in imminent danger. He left his house late at night to visit a parishioner who had been beaten earlier that day. Bishop Raphael brought with him a bodyguard of parishioners, at least some of whom were armed. Stop for a moment — might he have been armed himself? He might have been, but I think not. His best option would have been to run for the hills if anyone attacked, and that is precisely what he did. He probably was not armed. But what if one of those parishioner-bodyguards had thrust a revolver into his hand at the last moment? Is it possible that he took it — not intended to use it, mind you, but simply took it into his hand? I think we must admit that this is possible, albeit remotely so. Bishop Raphael may have had a revolver on his person when he ran from the gunfight.
He ran, and was chased by someone. We now know that someone to be Officer Mallon, but did the bishop know this? Almost certainly not. As we’ve seen, it was very dark, and Bishop Raphael was running from a veritable riot. Surely he thought — I would have thought — that his pursuer was one of those Maronite enemies, coming to get him. In that situation, would it have been reasonable for him to pull out that revolver and point it at the pursuer? I think so. I probably would have done the same thing. I don’t think he would have intended to actually fire the gun, but he probably thought that his life was in imminent danger. Pointing a gun at your apparent attacker is a pretty normal reaction. Once he learned that his pursuer was not an attacker but a policeman, would he have thrown the gun away? Almost certainly.
But – continuing just a little longer with the unlikely theory that Bishop Raphael was guilty – why would he compound the problem by lying about it afterwards? Why not just admit the mistake? It’s very possible that the bishop considered his position, and his flock, and the likely consequences (not just to himself, but to his ministry) of admitting to assaulting a police officer. He may well have felt that a sin — lying — would be better than the destruction of his ministry. And it’s hard to blame him if he did think along those lines.
Okay, let’s stop this speculation now. Is the theory I just laid out possible? I think it is. Is it plausible? Is it likely? No, it is not. Given what we know of St. Raphael, given the realities of New York policemen in 1905, given that the alleged revolver was never found, given the specific circumstances of the case (nighttime, a crowded street, the probable assumption by the officer that all those at the gunfight were participants) — given all that we know, I feel pretty confident that St. Raphael never wavered in telling the truth. I do not believe that he tried to shoot a police officer.
In this article, we have focused almost entirely on the single question of whether St. Raphael tried to shoot a policeman. But he was accused of numerous other crimes, and the whole story of his tribulations in late 1905 is not nearly over. There will be another riot, and another arrest, and many appearances in court. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to unpack, examine, and discuss the sad but compelling crisis that dominated New York’s Syrian community — and the life of St. Raphael — in 1905 and 1906.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
As we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, in September 1905, New York’s Syrian community was on the brink of war. On one side were the Orthodox, who rallied around their bishop, St. Raphael Hawaweeny. The saint himself opposed violence — both violent acts and violent words — but his attempts to intervene only exacerbated the problem. On the other side were the Maronites — the Roman Catholic Syrians. These were led by a group known as the “Champagne Glass Club,” which included the influential Arabic newspaper editor and Lebanese nationalist Naoum Mokarzel.
The first acts of violence took place on Friday, August 15, when about a score of Syrian men scuffled in the colony’s business center. By Monday, tensions had reached a breaking point. That afternoon, three Syrians had a dust-up and were arrested. Then, at 7 o’clock that night, an Orthodox merchant named Nicolo Abousamra boarded a ferry boat. Two men attacked him with a stick, leaving a nasty lump on his head. Abousamra thought that they had a dagger, but he was able to escape to a more crowded part of the boat.
Abousamra made it home, where he told his business partner Sakir Nassar about the attack. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (9/19/1905), “they decided that it might be as well to have the bishop call on them last night and talk the thing over. For they felt sure that there were assassins lurking about to kill the bishop and they wanted to warn him and plan some form of protection.” Though it was by now the dead of night, Nassar hurried off to find St. Raphael. As it turned out, the bishop already had a bodyguard with him: “for the bishop has been worrying about the shadows that lurk about him when he goes abroad, and it is his habit to take some of his parishioners along with him when he goes out at night” (Eagle). St. Raphael went at once to visit Abousamra, and at least some of his accompanying parishioners were armed.
St. Raphael and his entourage never made it to Abousamra’s. St. Raphael lived at 320 Pacific Street. Abousamra was at 114 Pacific. On the way, the St. Raphael’s party had to pass by 137 Pacific — the home of none other than Naoum Mokarzel. For his part, Mokarzel had conveniently invited a dozen friends over, and at least some of these friends were packing heat. (None of the sources say so, but I strongly suspect that Mokarzel’s friends were the other members of the Champagne Glass Club.)
Why did St. Raphael go to the home of his arch-enemy in the middle of the night? The New York Sun (9/19) reported that Raphael got the rather wild idea that, if only he could sit down with Mokarzel and talk face-to-face, they could make peace and end all the violence. Alternatively, the Orthodox parishioners may have taken the initiative to go to Mokarzel’s house, and St. Raphael may have joined them in an effort to prevent a fight. Another very plausible explanation is offered by St. Raphael himself, and appeared in the New York World (9/19):
I have enemies who are seeking to kill me. I have been warned time and again that I will be assassinated and for many weeks I have not dared to leave my home unaccompanied at night. Whenever I go out I get several of my parishioners to go with me and this was the case last night when I went out to visit a sick friend.
Neither I nor those with me had any part in the riot, nor did we make an attack upon the home of Mr. Makarzoe [sic]. We were passing peaceably through Pacific street when the shooting began. I am convinced that it was a feigned pistol duel, with the purpose of murdering me by hitting me with what would appear to be a stray bullet.
One reason it’s hard to get a handle on what happened is the fact that the newspapers don’t agree with each other. The Sun reports that St. Raphael and several parishioners went into Mokarzel’s house and spent about an hour there in a relatively peaceful meeting. Things eventually turned violent, the meeting broke up, and a shootout began. At least, that’s the Sun‘s story.
The New York Times‘ version of events basically follows St. Raphael’s story. According to the Times, “The minute the Hawaweeny party entered [Mokarzel's house] the fight began. It was rough and tumble in the parlor for a few minutes, and then the combatants went to the street and fought there.” No hour-long meeting in this version. Honestly, I think the Times, rather than the Sun, has it right. Consider the facts:
- It was nearly midnight.
- The Orthodox were on their way to visit an assault victim, Abousamra.
- St. Raphael and his followers believed that assassins were after him.
- There were a dozen Orthodox men, some of whom were armed.
- There were a dozen Maronite men, some of whom were armed.
- The two groups hated each other’s guts.
I say there’s no way in the world, under those circumstances, that a dozen Orthodox men could have approached Mokarzel’s house — full of armed Maronites — and not had an immediate fight. St. Raphael’s story sounds reasonable, and I’m inclined to believe him.
In any event, a moment or an hour after the Orthodox group passed by Mokarzel’s house, a gunfight broke out. Here is how the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (9/19) describes the scene:
It was clearly a pitched battle, for the combatants were dancing about, here and there, taking refuge when they could and again take pot shots at each other. There were others on the street in addition to the combatants, some of hte men from the nearby house of the fire patrol, and Captain Cashman, the head of the fire patrol company. The men of the patrol were gingerly trying to stop the shooting, and when the uniformed policeman appeared ran in with him and put the shooters to flight.
The police officer — a fellow named Mallon – had heard the shots, and bravely rushed into the battle. Police reinforcements soon arrived, and the Battle of Pacific Street finally ended. About twenty shots had been fired, but fortunately, no one died and only two men were injured.
Officer Mallon (whose name has as many spellings as New York had newspapers) saw one of the Syrians “running for all he was worth” (Times) away from the fight, and he chased after the man. As it turns out, this was none other than St. Raphael himself.
Soon enough, Officer Mallon caught up to the bishop and arrested him. According to the officer, St. Raphael brandished a revolver and even tried to pull the trigger. St. Raphael vehemently denied this, and said that he had never even handled a gun in his life, and would never do such a thing. This issue — whether St. Raphael assaulted a policeman with a gun and whether he lied about it afterwards — is so serious and significant that I want to explore it in great detail in another article.
Most of the Syrian fighters escaped, but several were arrested and locked in jail. Some women tried to bail out St. Raphael, but the magistrate said that, for the time being, the bishop was safer behind bars than out in public. The physical battle was over, but St. Raphael’s fight for his reputation, and his freedom, had just begun.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]