Old Calendar Christmas

Today, of course, is Christmas for those Orthodox Christians on the Old (Julian) Calendar. Until the 1920s, all of Orthodoxy used the Old Calendar, and of course that included all the Orthodox in America. As we’ve discussed, the American media thought that this was thoroughly fascinating, and newspapers often ran articles on “Greek” or “Russian”…

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…

Built or Bought? Greek church buildings in the 1910s

Pews are a common sight in American Orthodox churches, especially those in the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses. I remember, as an adolescent in an Antiochian parish, learning that my fellow Orthodox in Greece or Russia or Lebanon don’t have pews in their churches. When I asked why we had pews and the rest of Orthodoxy…

Cassocks or Collars?

It’s a common debate within American Orthodoxy: should our priests wear cassocks, or should they wear suits and collars like their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts? One side rightly argues that cassocks are the traditional and virtually universal style of dress for Orthodox clergy. The other side just as correctly points out that even some American saints wore…

Turtledoves Prohibited, Wedding Was Postponed

I’ve been trekking through the 1860s lately, but I thought I’d take a break from that for a moment and present something completely random. From the Philadelphia Inquirer, July 27, 1913: TURTLEDOVES PROHIBITED, WEDDING WAS POSTPONED Syrian Father’s Poetic Fancy Cost Him a Fine Also LA CROSSE, Wis., July 26. – Turtledoves would be just…

“This Syrian Bishop derives his authority from… Antioch”

Matthew has previously provided for us some tidbits on the ambiguous canonical status of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (Antioch? Moscow? Both? How?)—see especially his post on St. Raphael’s consecration as well as listening to the relevant parts in his “The Myth of Past Unity” lecture. Here’s another data point that I just discovered indicating that…

The First Black Orthodox Priest in America

On today’s episode of the American Orthodox History podcast, we’re running a lecture I gave at the Brotherhood of St Moses the Black conference in Indianapolis at the end of May. The subject is Fr Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America. The text of the lecture is below. Also, later this year, St.…