Posts tagged Alexander Hotovitzky
One of the little mysteries I’ve been meaning to research for some time has a bit of a family connection. This past week, I finally had the opportunity to delve into it, and the results were far different than I ever anticipated.
My great-grandparents were married on May 2/15, 1908 at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City. As someone who specializes in that particular era, and who has focused a lot of research on events and figures at St. Nicholas at the time, it’s always been a bit of a curiosity as to which priest married them. With the number of notable clegymen in and around New York at the time, and being a historian, I just had to know. Last week, while having lunch with my grandmother (their youngest daughter, now 97 years old), I asked if she had their marriage certificate. A few minutes later, she retrieved a rather fascinating set of documents from a file drawer, which included not only the answer to my original question, but also led me to something I think our readers would find interesting.
In 1916, my great-grandparents,who had moved to Detroit, wrote to the cathedral and requested the metrical records for their wedding and the baptisms of the three of their children who were born in New York. In return, they received pre-printed forms designed for this purpose, with the requested information from the metrical books filled in by hand by Vsevolod Andronoff, the cathedral’s deacon, and signed by Fr. Leonid Turkevich (the future Metropolitan Leonty), then the Dean of the Cathedral.
In the record for the marriage, I was surprised to find the name of a priest I had never seen before: Fr. Ilia Zotikov. When I got home, I searched through the print and online sources I normally use to find information on priests, and found surprisingly little. Other than the fact that he was in New York at the early part of the 20th century, Zotikov seemed to have fallen into obscurity. Then, like any crafty, 21st-century researcher, I ran a Google search in Russian. Dozens of hits popped up. This is where the story became something quite interesting.
In 1922, Fr. Ilia Zotikov, like untold thousands in his vocation during the Soviet era, was forced into the murky abyss of the Soviet prison system, where his personal and professional lives were interrupted by a dizzying series of arrests, trials, imprisonments, exile, and ultimately, death. Of course, Orthodox Americans are quite familiar with the Hieromartyr Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky, who is depicted and venerated in iconography throughout the world, and whose biography has been published far and wide. This has as much to do with the circumstances of his various trials and ultimate martyrdom in the Gulag in the Soviet Union as his prominence in the North American Diocese during the nearly two decades he served in the United States. Yet the same cannot be said for Zotikov, even though his life, ministry, and subsequent fate were quite similar, and intrinsically tied, to those of Hotovitzky.
Ilia Ivanovich Zotikov was born into a priestly family in Finland in 1863. He was educated at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, where his classmates included John Kochurov and Alexander Hotovitzky. In 1895, Zotikov was one of a number of Russian seminarians recruited for service as missionaries in America by Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutians. Zotikov was assigned to be an assistant to Fr. Evtikhy Balanovitch, and both were sent to New York City to start the small parish that would ultimately become St. Nicholas Cathedral.
They arrived in New York with their wives, both named Mary, on April 1, 1895 (NY Sun, 4/2/1895). On May 19th, Bp. Nicholas ordained Zotikov to the priesthood in the parish’s tiny house parlor sanctuary at 323 2nd Avenue (New York Herald, 5/20/1895). When Balanovitch left St. Nicholas in 1896, Zotikov stayed on to assist Balanovitch’s replacement, his seminary classmate Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky, who had been ordained a priest in San Francisco earlier in the year. Together they were instrumental in both the growth of the congregation and the subsequent building of the parish’s new church on 97th Street, which would become the cathedral of the entire North American Diocese in 1905. Hotovitzky became the Cathedral Dean, and Zotikov the Sacristan. It was there that Zotikov officiated the marriage of my great-grandparents in 1908, and where, as my grandmother’s files revealed, Hotovitzky baptized their first daughter two years later.
In the late summer of 1910, Zotikov returned to Russia. For most of the ensuing decade, he served in various parishes in St. Petersburg. In 1919, he was reassigned to Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, where, alongside Hotovitzky, he served as Sacristan of the Cathedral and assistant to Patriarch Tikhon, in a nearly identical arrangement to that at St. Nicholas Cathedral more than a decade before. There, the Patriarch, Hotovitzky, Zotikov, and Cathedral Dean Fr. Nicholas Arseniev were on the front lines of the defense against the repression of the Church by the Bolshevik government. Both Patriarch Tikhon and Fr. Alexander would be arrested and imprisoned multiple times in the early years of Bolshevik rule.
In early 1922, the Bolshevik government ordered the seizure of all ecclesiastical vessels and objects of value held by the Church. This was met with resistance by clergy and laity alike. The clergy of Christ the Savior Cathedral, led by Hotovitzky, were especially instrumental in resisting the order, and meetings were held at Hotovitzky’s apartment to draft resolutions in opposition. For his participation in these meetings, Zotikov was amongst a group of clergy and laity arrested in the spring of 1922, and was subsequently sent to Butyrki Prison.
In December, Zotikov, Hotovitzky, and others appeared before the Moscow Revolutionary Tribunal. Hotovitzky and two others were given ten-year sentences. Most of the others, Zotikov amongst them, were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and one year of deprivation of civil rights. Appeals were unsuccessful, but in late 1923, many of the sentences were cut short on amnesty. Zotikov returned to Christ the Savior, and in 1924, was reassigned to the Descent of the Holy Spirit, where he remained for several years. Hotovitzky was left without a parish assignment, instead filling in where he was needed.
Zotikov was arrested again in June 1927. Found to be in possession of the “Solovki Declaration,” a document issued by bishops imprisoned in the Solovki prison camp in opposition to the Soviet government, Zotikov was again imprisoned at Butyrki, put on trial, and sentenced to three years of exile in Vladimir, about 120 miles east of Moscow. There, he became rector of a small cemetery chapel then serving as the cathedral for the entire Diocese of Vladimir following the forced closure of Dormition Cathedral earlier in 1927. By this point in time, Soviet law had restricted the clergy from nearly every aspect of their vocations, leaving priests like Zotikov on dangerous ground as they attempted to perform even the most basic sacramental duties. By 1929, widespread arrests of clergymen were underway.
In 1993, the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate published an article by Andrei Kozarzhevsky about parish life in Moscow in the 1920s and 1930s, which sheds some light on this period of Zotikov’s life. (Thе article was recently translated into English and published on the Russian website Pravoslavie.ru.) Kozarzhevsky was baptized by Zotikov in 1918, and was well acquainted with both Zotikov and Hotovitzky in his adolescence. As a child, he assisted Zotikov during services in Vladimir, and recalled Zotikov’s third arrest, on October 13th, 1930, for “membership in a counter-revolutionary organization of churchmen,” that being the Church.
On October 19th, 1930, Zotikov was convicted by the OGPU (the arm of the Soviet secret police who spearheaded the repression of religious groups) and was relegated to the notoriously brutal Vladimir Central Prison. On October 23rd, Zotikov was sent for execution. Some sources state both he and Protodeacon Michael Lebedev were shot by a firing squad, though Kozarzhevsky claims he suffered a fatal heart attack on the way to the execution. Regardless, Fr. Ilia Zotikov is considered a Hieromartyr, and is commemorated according to the church calendar with the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia on January 25/February 7.
Andrei Kozarzhevsky’s recollections of Zotikov do not end with his death. After Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky was martyred in the Gulag in 1937, Kozarzhevsky came into possession of a few of Hotovitzky’s personal effects, including a copy of a poem written by Hotovitzky in New York during the summer of 1910, on the occasion of a “triple event:” The feast of St. Elias, Zotikov’s name-day, and his imminent departure for Russia.
By any measure, it is clear that Zotikov and Hotovitzky (and their wives) were particularly close, a bond which apparently began in seminary, yet was forged largely in America. When Hotovitzky departed for Russia in 1900 to raise money for the building of St. Nicholas Church, it was Zotikov who officiated the service blessing his trip. When the church complex was finished, the Hotovitzkys and Zotikovs were neighbors in its apartments. Mary Hotovitzky and Mary Zotikov later served together on the board of the Cathedral Sisterhood.
Far away from their native land, the two former classmates depended on each other, and continued to do so after they were reunited in Russia, where they ultimately met similar fates in the Gulag. It is no surprise, then, that Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky’s 1910 poem was “dedicated to my best friend Fr. Ilia Zotikov.”
A note on sources: Much of the metrical data for this article, including the particular dates of Fr. Zotikov’s biography, can be found (in Russian) here. Additionally, biographical details and a brief biography of Zotikov can be found in The Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Central Russia (Vladimir Moss, 2009, 657-8), available for download (along with other similar works) here.
Editor’s note: Last year, we reprinted St. Alexander Hotovitzky’s 1902 reflection on the New Year. It was originally published in the January 1902 supplement to the Vestnik (Messenger), of which he was the editor. With New Year’s Day coming this weekend, we’re reprinting the reflection again:
Again I stand on the threshold of a New Year. Again I stand on the crest of a mountain, where I may make a halt and review, before I walk again on the path I have brod. I shall halt, I shall rest, I shall hush my troubled heart, be it only for this short moment, I shall hide from the blizzard, which had followed me ever since I set out, and will meet me again the moment I leave my seclusion. Oh, Lord! help me calmly examine my soul and Thy creation.
I gaze at God’s creation, at everything which He had sent to me, which has been placed close to me, which, through His will, has come together in my life, and, with my hand on my heart, from the depth of my heart and conscience, I say: all this is very good! Yonder is my happy childhood — how brightly it shines, diffusing its aroma from the distant long ago, how it lights up my path before me, how it freshens my soul, during spells of exhaustion! Yonder is my ardent youth and with it all that brought to my soul the first raptures of feeling. Here are my lessons, my joys, my bitter losses, here are the people to like with whom is my happiness, here are others, whom I have buried in the damp earth, almost unconscious with grief; here are all in whose company I grew up, with whom I worried, from whom I have received gifts of love and of wrath, from whom have I accepted honour and dishonour; here is Nature, which, at times, appeared to me more alive and more responsive, which had more power to energize my spirit, than living beings themselves; here are my pleasures, my connections, my illnesses. All, all this is very good. All was good, that God’s Providence sent into my life. Nothing was in vain. Everything was for good.
My past! How far it stretches back in the wondrous country, whence come to me a glad sound, or a beloved image, consolation, and hope, and bitter remorse. I gaze at it and I smile for joy, I gaze at it and I cover my face with my hands for shame. Yet I know: it is mine, it is myself, it is a part of my life, and no power can take it from me or erase what is written in it. And that which is written in it is the future, it is the fate of man. Many are the lives in it, whose mysterious meaning will be disclosed at some future time, at the time when the seed that was sown, will come to ripeness, when, in letters of fire, it will bring forward the word, traced on it by eternal wisdom, unrevealed as yet to mind and conscience, but not to be separated from life. Whilst man lived his days, whilst he worked and slept, whilst he laughed and cried, whilst he moved and rested — eternal Wisdom traced this word on his life and sealed it with a seal of its own, putting a magic spell on it, until the time comes for the seal to be broken, and for a dark corner of a man’s life to be lit up by the light of God’s understanding, which lies hidden in life. It is an agony to read some of these words, but once you have read them, your heart will know, that those are words of God’s love, of God’s solicitude for man. And with every new word, a mystery is revealed, a veil is drawn away and man is made able to understand the thoughts and longings of his own heart.
All is very good. Yet, even now, my restless heart is throbbing with unknown longing and straining to see into the distant future.
Oh Lord! let Thy blessing rest on us.
Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine and Isabel Florence Hapgood were the two people most responsible for the spread of English in early 20th century American Orthodoxy. Hapgood, a lifelong Episcopalian, was a renowned translator, honored by the Tsar, and she is still remembered today for her landmark 1906 English translation of the Orthodox Service Book. Less than a year earlier, in November 1905, Irvine, a defrocked Episcopal priest, was received into Orthodoxy and ordained by St. Tikhon. Irvine made it his life’s work to promote the use of English in American Orthodox parishes.
Yet despite their common advocacy English-language Orthodoxy, Irvine and Hapgood were like oil and water. Hapgood’s feelings towards Irvine are not well documented, but Irvine made his disdain for Hapgood clear, both in public and in private. In a 1915 letter published in the official magazine of the Russian Archdiocese (and reprinted on this site), Hapgood publicly begged the Archbishop to invest in a first-rate show choir, arguing that a great choir is “immensely more important” than “twenty little new parishes.” Irvine’s response was swift and strong, lambasting Hapgood for her “musical heresy.” Two years later, in a letter to Archbishop Evdokim (and preserved in the OCA archives), Irvine called her “that vixen Miss Hapgood,” and said that she had “damned the Church for years.”
It appears that the hostility between Irvine and Hapgood dates at least to the time of Irvine’s conversion to Orthodoxy, in late 1905. Not long ago, I happened to read Stuart H. Hoke’s outstanding paper, “A Generally Obscure Calling: A Character Sketch of Isabel Florence Hapgood” (St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 45:1, 2001). This is, by far, the most complete and well-researched biography of Hapgood I have ever seen. Hoke points out that, in his 1906 book A Letter on the Anglican Church’s Claims, Irvine committed a “major slight” against Hapgood, erroneously identifying Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky as the person chiefly responsible for Hapgood’s brand-new English Service Book. Irvine wrote that the book had been “under the watchful eye of the Very Rev. A.A. Hotovitzky and its real merits as a valuable Liturgical work as well as a witness in the English language to ‘the faith once for all delivered unto the Saints’ must be ascribed to his painstaking and interest, both as a Liturgical Scholar and Theologian.”
This was all sorts of wrong, and Hotovitzky immediately moved to correct the problem. In a letter to The Living Church (a major Episcopalian periodical), published on December 15, 1906, St. Alexander wrote,
Such an assertion, which attaches my name to the publication, and imputes to me qualities and services to which I have made no claim in connection with that publication, unhappily and unjustly omits the name of the real author of the work, to whom, incontestably, all its merits, all praises and gratitude should be attributed. The Service Book was compiled by Miss Isabel F. Hapgood, on her own initiative. To her belongs the original idea of this work; hers are the plan and execution of it, which have required arduous labor and expenditure of strength for the space of several years, as she was compelled to study our Liturgical books, and the Church Slavonic and Greek languages, and so forth. Any one who has the slightest conception of the complicated structure of the Orthodox religious services, in their entire extent, will make no mistake if he applies to this labor the epithet “gigantic,” both as to its design and its importance; and the merits of Miss Hapgood’s liturgical English in this work are confirmed by learned ecclesiastical authorities of the Episcopal Church.
Further on, Hotovitzky instructed Irvine to insert a copy of this letter into his book:
In comparison with this enormous mass of labor — in truth a most precious and unselfish gift from Miss Hapgood to our Church — my share in it, (as an orthodox priest, who has rendered, so far as occasion required, only what aid was indispensable,) is merely of secondary importance; and, especially when her name is omitted, does not deserve to be mentioned. And therefore, being profoundly distressed that this statement, so unfortunately phraseed [sic], has found a place in your book, I most earnestly ask you to place the matter in its true and complete light by inserting my letter in the text of your book, so that no reader would be misled by that paragraph.
Hoke writes that Irvine obeyed Hotovitzky’s order, and I’m sure that did, but I’ve seen two copies of the book, and neither have such an insert.
Stuart Hoke refers to A Letter on the Anglican Church’s Claims as “Irvine’s spurious book.” This is way off base; Irvine’s book is a perfectly worthwhile piece of work. The “letter” referred to in the title was originally written by Irvine to St. Tikhon, explaining the ecclesiastical position of the Church of England. In addition to the letter, Irvine pulled together articles from prominent Episcopalian scholars and ecclesiastics, each one explaining a different aspect of Anglicanism. While Irvine’s statement about the Service Book was indeed wrong, it doesn’t mean that his whole book is “spurious.”
While all this provides helpful background on the Irvine-Hapgood dynamics, what is most interesting is the insight it provides into the relationship between Irvine and Hotovitzky. You may recall that Hotovitzky was actually Irvine’s priestly sponsor when he was ordained in November 1905. In fact, Hotovitzky had to defend Irvine’s ordination in the face of criticisms from, among others, The Living Church. A year later, though, Hotovitzky wrote to the same Living Church journal, strongly critiquing Irvine and instead defending the Episcopalian Hapgood. While both were important and admirable figures, Irvine and Hotovitzky were polar opposites in many ways — Hotovitzky more reserved and politically-savvy, Irvine a bull in a china shop. Hotovitzky takes a rather standoffish tone in his letter announcing Irvine of Irvine’s transfer from the Russian Mission to the Syrian Mission. It may very well be Hotovitzky did not really care for Irvine, and that some of that distaste originated in Irvine’s “slight” of Hapgood in 1906.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
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 he became a priest, in the summer of 1895. The ordination took place in Russia, but it was done by the visiting Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, the head of the Russian Mission in America, and Fr. John was to accompany Bishop Nicholas back to the United States. They arrived in November, just as Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny was getting settled in Brooklyn.
The young Fr. John was entering a bit of a sticky situation. From the Chicago Tribune (11/25/1895):
Nicholaei of St. Petersburg, Archbishop of All America, held solemn mass in the Greek [that is, Orthodox] Church, at No. 13 South Center avenue, yesterday morning for the installation of Father Kochureff as assistant priest of the parish. He was assisted by the local priest, Father Kazantsier, and assistant, and two pages from St. Petersburg. The vacancy of assistant priest was caused by a difference of opinion between Archbishop Nicholaei and R.A. Bouroff, late assistant pastor, who has come under the displeasure of his superiors by attendance at the University of Chicago.
Nearly 100 persons were crowded into the little room reserved for the congregation of the Greek Church in Chicago. It is the front room of a ground flat in a modest three-story building erected for a dwelling. The chancel occupies an adjoining front room. The service is more elaborate than that of the Roman Church, and differs radically in much of the ceremony, being conducted behind a high chancel screen, sometimes with the single entrance closed. All the appointments of the altar and chancel are different. The service is unique in many ways.
A pretty standard description of vestments, candles, etc. follows. Then, we read,
There is a division in the Greek congregation owing to the retirement of Assistant Priest Bouroff. It is said that a wing of the congregation is at outs with the authorities because of loyalty to the younger priest, who persists in carrying on his studies at President Harper’s institution. These members credit Archbishop Nicholaei with having caused the exile of more students to Siberia than any man in Russia. On this account it is easy to believe, they declare, that the Bishop of All America will never forgive the independence of ex-Assistant Pastor Bouroff.
About a dozen clergy from all over the country came to Chicago for Bishop Nicholas’ visit; these included Fr. Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre, Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky of New York, Fr. Anatolii Kamenskii of Sitka (the future bishop and confessor), and Fr. Theodore Pashkovsky of Jackson, CA (the future Metropolitan Theophilus).
Several things, right off the bat: Bishop Nicholas was not actually an archbishop, and his title was “Bishop of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska,” not “Bishop of All America.” Other newspapers give various names for the other Chicago priest; the most accurate rendition is probably “Fr. Pavel Kazanski.” Also, the Chicago Inter Ocean says that the parish is called “St. Ivan.” Originally it was “St. Nicholas,” and this was soon changed to “St. Vladimir” and later “Holy Trinity.” I’m not sure if, at some point, “St. Ivan” was used, or if this was a reporter’s mistake.
In the Tribune article quoted above, Fr. John Kochurov is named as the assistant priest, with Fr. Pavel Kazanski as the parish rector (having apparently replaced Fr. Ambrose Vretta, who was transferred to Seattle). However, I’ve found several reports from 1896 which put it the other way round, with Kochurov as the rector and Kazanski as his assistant. It’s possible that the earlier Tribune article got it wrong; certainly, it would be odd to have a formal “installation” for an assistant priest. Most probably, Kazanski held down the fort until Kochurov arrived, at which point the former became the latter’s assitant.
In any event, the most interesting part of this story is the Fr. Bouroff, who was apparently removed from his post for daring to attend the University of Chicago. I know some of our readers here have connections to that institution; perhaps there is something in the school’s archives which could shed more light on this episode?
Of course, for the Chicago parish, everything worked out fine in the end. Kochurov would prove to be a dedicated and exemplary pastor, and he would lead the community for more than a decade. It’s interesting; recently, we discussed the fact that Fr. Evtikhy Balanovitch, in New York, got into trouble and was replaced by a saint, Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky. Here, at exactly the same time, Fr. Bouroff got into trouble and was replaced by another saint, Fr. John Kochurov.
For the rest of the story on Fr. Basil Bouroff, click here.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
The following letter was found in Ingram N.W. Irvine’s file in the OCA Archives in Syosset, New York. The letter is undated (the pre-printed date line “190_” does not have a specific year) and appears under the letterhead of the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory, 15 East 97th Street, New York, N.Y. It is handwritten and appears to be a draft of a letter that was sent to Irvine notifying him of his transfer from the Archbishop Platon to Bishop (now Saint) Raphael. This letter was probably written by Fr. Alexander Hotovitsky. The signature is not very legible, but the first initial is clearly an “A.” The first four letters of the last name are almost certainly “Hoto” or “Hato” or “Hito.”
This is to inform you that by the order of His Grace Archbishop Platon of North America you are […] now transferred to the Orthodox Syrian Mission in Brooklyn, N.Y. to be under […] jurisdiction of Rt. Rev. Bishop Raphael and perform such missionary work […] as His Eminence Bishop Raphael would desire for you within his diocese with understanding that all your service in N.Y. St. Nicholas Cathedral since now shall be discontinued and your connection with […] Cathedral cease, your name having been taken away from the list of clergy of the Russian Cathedral.
Therefore you have to remove your mailing box, etc. to any other address you wish and to make all necessary changes in your cards, letterhead, […], etc. without fail.
As to details in connection with this order please apply to the Bishop Raphael […] has a copy of this […]
[signed] A. Hoto[vitsky?]
Irvine is listed among the Syrian Orthodox clergy in the (Episcopalian) American Church Almanac & Year Book for 1912. Thus, the letter can have been written no later than 1911, when the book was published. In addition, the OCA archives have a letter from Irvine to the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory dated May 25, 1909 in which he talks about the Holy Synod blessing him to establish an English-speaking chapel in New York. More importantly, the archives also include a letter dated just one day earlier (May 24) from the Coudert Brothers law firm to Archbishop Platon regarding a lawsuit against St. Nicholas (Russian) Cathedral. The dispute involved a transaction between Irvine and a printing company. The Cathedral had won, but the printers were appealing, In a postscript, there is the following: “We understood from Dr. Hotovitsky that he had gone over this matter fully with you and that you were fully advised of the situation.”
I don’t think the printing company dispute related above would have been sufficient to precipitate Irvine’s transfer out of the Russian jurisdiction, but it was probably one of several factors. (Notice how strongly the letter’s author emphasizes that Irvine’s connection with the Russian cathedral has “ceased.”)
Irvine was a forward-thinking visionary, and that fit in well when St. Tikhon was in charge. But St. Tikhon was replaced by Abp Platon in 1907, and… well, let’s just say that Platon was no Tikhon. Abp Platon was probably far less encouraging of Irvine’s English work, and far less patient with Irvine’s idiosyncracies. On the other hand, St. Raphael was much more in like with St. Tikhon’s mindset, and would have welcomed a talented priest like Irvine. (In fact, even before he joined the Syrian diocese, Irvine had been writing articles for St. Raphael’s Al Kalimat journal.)
UPDATE: Since this article was published, we have verified that the above letter was, in fact, written by St. Alexander Hotovitzky.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]