Posts tagged Boston
Editor’s note: The following article was written by Christopher Tripoulas of The National Herald, the leading Greek-American newspaper. It was originally published on The National Herald‘s blog on October 27. (Click here to view the original.) Many thanks to Mr. Tripoulas for allowing us to reprint the article.
During an age when the “what have you done for me lately” mentality reigns supreme, the Annunciation Cathedral of New England is undertaking a very auspicious project that pays tribute to one of its greatest ever memorable benefactors and stands as a very positive example within the Greek-American community. The Cathedral’s decision to adopt a proposal by its dean, V. Rev. Cleopas Strongylis, to: a) compile its history during Archbishop Iakovos’ deanship, b) create a digital archive of the Cathedral’s historical files, and c) establish a Research Center in the Cathedral Mansion for the promotion and preservation of the Cathedral’s history, is an initiative that definitely deserves to be commended. Like the old Greek saying goes, if you don’t praise your home, it will fall and crash down upon you… and what better way to praise and celebrate the history of this 100-year-plus-old community than to commemorate its most celebrated period: Iakovos’ tenure – then known by most as Archimandrite James A. Coucouzes – as its dean.
This historical study is particularly poignant today, and not just because it coincides with the 70th anniversary of Iakovos’ appointment to the Cathedral or his centennial of birth, but also because it comes at a time when there is an apparent leadership crisis plaguing society in general. The late archbishop has sometimes been characterized as “larger than life.” His decisions, like those of every great leader, sometimes sparked controversy and remained under the historical microscope for years to come. But whether you agree with of all his decisions or not, there’s no debating Iakovos’ leadership qualities and ability to inspire.
What makes this particular work all the more interesting is that it provides a closer look at one of the most significant ecclesiastical figures of the Twentieth Century, before he put on the Archbishop’s miter. It will provide information that will help to reveal the qualities, passion, and mentality that played a key part in transforming this dynamic Boston area priest, Archimandrite James Coucouzes, into national Church and ethnic leader: Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America.
The early years and priestly ministry of the man who went on to lead the Church in America for four decades naturally never gets as much attention as does his high-profile career as archbishop and particularly his storied trips to the White House. But the humble confines of his office on Parker & Ruggles Streets in Boston have just as much to do with the making of this legendary leader, because it was there that he first laid the foundations for his later work and came of age.
There is a real potential for this study to provide a wonderful inspiration and serve as a great resource for clergymen and laypersons alike, possibly even encouraging them to explore the histories of their own communities or organizations. By researching precisely what it was about Coucouzes’ tenure that helped to lay the groundwork for the Boston Cathedral’s “Golden Era” and its dean’s subsequent astronomic rise in the Church’s ranks, it might be possible to redefine our own expectations for what we envision our future “golden era” to be.
Coucouzes’ deanship simply was prolific. He worked endless hours dedicating his attention to every aspect of the community life – spiritual, educational, and social. In addition, he showed particular interest in Hellenic national issues and care for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Those are just some of the aspects that the study promises to bring to the forefront, thus better acquainting us with the iconic figure that would go on to leave an indelible mark in the Greek Diaspora.
But the Cathedral’s initiative is also important because in addition to enriching history, it will use this work to enhance and beautify its facilities and services in a rather ingenious way. This project hopefully will speak to the minds and hearts of prospective donors to relive history while renovating the community as well. And in doing so, it will provide readers with a look at how some of the pioneering Greeks and their ever-memorable spiritual leader chased progress, while helping inspire today’s generation of church and lay leaders to recapture some of that all important ingenuity.
This work was made possible thanks to the commendable efforts of Nikie Calles, Director of Archives at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Anyone who has ever visited the Archives can plainly see what a superb job Calles has done capturing and organizing the history of not just the Church, but of the entire Greek-American community. In addition, the generous support of noble contributors like Stephen and Catherine Pappas and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation should also be recognized, as their financial assistance was essential in helping Calles to apply her many talents and compile this tremendous didactic and informational resource.
And so, whether based on donations from philanthropists like the Pappases or the Foundation, Calles’ invaluable work, or the “philotimo” shown by the Boston Cathedral, the encouraging sign is that the Greek-American Community still loves its history, and as long as there is genuine love for the past, there is all the reason to hope for a brighter tomorrow. Because in a true community of persons, the dreams of the previous generation are perpetually being realized by its successors.
This article was written by Christopher Tripoulas of The National Herald and has been reprinted with permission from the author. To view the original article, click here.
Helen Keller was one of the most famous women in America in the early 20th century. Both deaf and blind, she overcame her disabilities to become a bestselling author and popular lecturer. Keller’s tutor, Anne Sullivan, became rather famous in her own right, for her role in training the young Keller. In 1962, Anne Bancroft won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. Less well-known, but just as significant, is the man who put Keller and Sullivan together — Michael Anagnos, an Orthodox immigrant from Greece, and the longtime head of Boston’s Perkins Institute for the Blind.
Anagnos (shortened from Anagnostopoulos) was born in a mountain village in Epirus in 1837. The son of a peasant, he grew up tending his father’s flocks and studying in the village school. He eventually earned a scholarship to a better school, and ultimately was admitted to the University of Athens. There, he was so poor that he couldn’t afford textbooks, and had to copy the required readings by hand. He worked his way through college, graduated, and then studied law.
After law school, Anagnos began a career, not in law, but in journalism. In his mid-20s, he became editor of an Athens newspaper, Ethnophylax (The National Guard). From that post, Anagnos opposed the government of King Otho, which led to his arrest and imprisonment. In 1866, he supported the cause of revolutionaries in Crete. As it turned out, a certain American, Dr. Samuel Howe, was also a supporter of the Cretan revolutionaries, and had come to the region to engage in relief efforts. Howe hired Anagnos to be his assistant, and when Howe returned to the US, Anagnos joined him.
Dr. Howe happened to be the founder of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, in Boston, and he gave Anagnos a position as teacher of Greek and Latin, and also the job of private tutor to the Howe family. Before long, Anagnos and Howe’s daughter Julia had fallen in love, and they were married in 1870. As Dr. Howe’s health declined, he gave Anagnos more and more authority at the Perkins Institute, and after Howe’s death, Anagnos became the Institute’s head.
Anagnos was perfect for the job. Right away, he raised $100,000 (roughly $2 million today) to publish books for the blind, and he made sure that every public library in Massachusetts had copies. He set up vocational training programs for blind people, and started a kindergarten for blind children (raising another $100,000 to keep it going). Helen Keller was the Institute’s most famous product: she was sent to Anagnos by Alexander Graham Bell, and Anagnos paired her with 20-year-old former student Anne Sullivan, who herself was visually impaired. Anagnos led the Perkins Institute for thirty years, affecting the lives of countless blind individuals. After his death, one student offered this remembrance (reprinted in Annie S. Beard’s Our Foreign Born Citizens, 1922, which has been a major source for this article):
His strength comforted our weakness, his firmness overcame our wavering ideas, his power smoothed away our obstacles, his noble unselfishness put to shame our petty differences of opinion, and his untiring devotion led us all to do our little as well as we could… Better than all, he taught us to the best of our ability to be men and women in our own homes.
Besides his role at the Perkins Institute, Anagnos was a towering figure in Boston’s Greek community. He also served as president of the National Union of Greeks in the United States, and may well have been the most famous Greek person in America in his day. He made many trips back to Europe, where he donated tens of thousands of dollars to fund schools in Greece, Turkey, Serbia, and Romania. After Anagnos’ death in 1906 on a visit to Romania, the Boston Evening Herald (7/16/1906) published a tribute from T.T. Timayenis of the Boston Greek community:
He was the man who taught the Greeks of America to learn and adopt everything that is good in the American character, the only man whom all Greeks revered and implicitly obeyed; the man who did good for the sake of the good; the man who conceived the idea of establishing a Greek school in Boston; the man who expected every Greek to do his duty toward his adopted country — America.
Here is an account of Anagnos’ funeral, from the Boston Globe (7/16/1906):
The little Greek church at Kneeland and Tyler sts was crowded yesterday forenoon in memory of Michael Anagnos, who had done so much in the latter years of his life to bring his fellow-countrymen together in this place of worship. The church was heavily draped both inside and outside and in front of the sanctuary were displayed a number of rich floral tributes from Greek societies.
There were present oin the church delegations from these various societies in addition to the regular congregation, and there were present a number of other friends of Mr. Anagnos.
The service was simple, consisting of singing and an address by Rev. Nestor Souslides, which was very affecting and which moved many in the congregation to tears. Tears streamed down from the eyes of the preacher before the conclusion of his address and he was so overcome by his emotions that he was obliged to step for a moment int his study before he could give the benediction.
The speaker laid so much stress on the broad humanitarianism of Mr. Anagnos, on his deep love for Greece and for the Greeks who were struggling for their independence in Macedonian, Roumania and other places, and of the deep personal interest he took in his fellow-countrymen who came to the United States, and finally there was the touching friendship which existed between the speaker and Mr. Anagnos and the work of the latter in organizing and help[ing] maintain the spirit of Greek patriotism among his fellow-countrymen here.
It all seemed very significant and a little strange, perhaps, to step into this little Puritanical church of other days, with its high-backed seats and un-adorned walls and with the few scriptural passages in old English Gothic letters n either side of the sanctuary — put there by another race, and another denomination — to see the picturesque Greek priest in flowing black beard, tall head dress and heavy gold vestments, delivering to his fellow-countrymen in their own language a eulogy of one who was great as an American citizen, but who had never forgotten his native land and whose native patriotism never waned in life.
The Greeks of Boston propose to hold memorial services each year in honor of Michael Anagnos.
[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.
Attend an American Orthodox parish today, of any jurisdiciton, and you’re likely to hear prayers offered for the President of the United States (and, in some parishes, for the other branches of government as well). The first evidence I’ve been able to find of such prayers is from the journal Christian Union, 10/4/1871:
Bishop Johannes, of the Russo-Greek Church on the Pacific coast, has ordered the prayer for the President of the United States, contained in the Liturgy of the Episcopal Church, to be used by the Greek Priests. The Russo-Greek Calendar has also been modified so as to make it conform to that of Western Christendom in several essential important points.
It’s not clear what those calendar changes were, but obviously, the prayers for the President were part of a broader program to make Orthodoxy more American.
Four decades later (and exactly 99 years ago today), a Greek fruit dealer in Boston decided that the local Greek parish (and, apparently, Greek churches throughout the country) should also pray for US leaders. From the Boston Globe (7/14/1911):
That the ritual of the Greek church in this country be changed so that prayers would be for “the President, his family, the governors and their families,” instead of the customary for “King George of Greece and his family,” was the object of a petition filed yesterday in the office of Clerk Darling in the U.S. circuit court.
Constantinos D. Dimary of 46 Curve st, a fruit dealer, prepared the document, writing it on a 20-pound brown paper bag with a pencil. There is considerable legal phraseology in the document, as Dimary studied law in Greece. He feels that the country which has been adopted by his countrymen should get the blessings of his church.
What exactly Mr. Dimary hoped to accomplish by filing a petition in court is beyond me. Did he expect the court to compel Greek churches to pray for the US President? It’s one thing to bring up such a thing to your parish priest (or local bishop, but the Greeks didn’t have one in 1911), but to seek the aid of the courts is a little extreme. I don’t know what became of this petition (although I can guess that it didn’t get very far), and I’m not sure how the Greeks of Boston responded. I know we’ve got quite a few Greek Orthodox readers from the Boston area; can any of you shed more light on this odd incident?
One more note along these lines. In 1920, the Antiochian Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi — leader of the “Antacky” faction of Syrians — published a collection of Orthodox hymns, with music, in English, under the title The Paradise. Among those hymns was one that went like this: “God bless the President of the United States, and its people with peace and prosperity, God keep this peace and prosperity, forevermore, forevermore, forevermore. Amen.” This, it appears, was used in Met Germanos’ parishes during the Divine Liturgy, where once upon a time the Eastern Roman Emperor was commemorated.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
UPDATE (7/14/2010): After I published this article yesterday, Isa Almisry found an example of prayers for the US President in 1870, which is earlier than the Bishop John Mitropolsky example related above. From Isa:
The New York Times records on November 25, 1870, that “servives were conducted by Bishop PAUL, formerly Bishop of Alaska, who is on his way to Russia, to assume his new position as Bishop of Siberia. Rev. Mr. BJERRING also officiated. The litany was said by the Bishop, while prayers for the Emperor and Empress of Russian, and for the President and people of the United States were offered by the pastor.”
As far as Albanian Orthodox history in America goes, there’s no bigger figure than Metropolitan Theophan — or “Fan” — Noli. He’s best known for his three-plus decades as bishop of the Albanian jurisdiction which ultimately joined the Russian Metropolia (and which is now the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA). Before that, he was the head of the Orthodox Church in Albania. And for five months in 1924, Metropolitan Theophan served as the Prime Minister of Albania. While he was the primate of an Orthodox Church. It was a crazy time.
Anyway, before all of that, Noli was in the United States. He arrived in 1906, when he was 24 years old. He made his way to Boston, where he enrolled at Harvard University. At the time, the Albanians in Boston attended the city’s Greek parish. According to the 1975 OCA book Orthodox America: 1794-1976, “After a series of problems with the local Greek priest, these Albanian immigrants wanted to have their own Albanian priest and for this task selected Fan Noli.”
In March of 1908, the Russian Archbishop Platon ordained Noli to the priesthood. Just days later, Noli used his own translation of the Divine Liturgy to serve the first-ever Orthodox Liturgy in the Albanian language. Not just the first in America — the first ever, period. In fact, it was Noli who later brought the Albanian-language Divine Liturgy to Albania itself; before that, all the services were in Greek. This landmark Liturgy took place on March 22, 1908 — so, 102 years ago today. Here is the report that appeared in the Boston Globe two days later:
Rev Fan S. Noli, pastor of the Albanian Orthodox diocese of the United States and Canada, conducted the first service ever held in the Albanian tongue in Boston at Knights of Honor hall, 730 Washington st, Sunday evening. More than 500 Albanians were present, and Rev Mr Noli delivered an interesting address in which he explained the aims and progress of the movement in this country.
Rev Mr Noli was born in Adrianople, Turkey, and educated in the Greek high school and the French college in that city. In the two years following his graduation, he was in business in Asia Minor, and this was followed by five years’ newspaper work in Greece and Egypt. He then put in two years as a professor of French and Greek in a school in Egypt. His school work palled on him and he determined to sail for this country.
Shortly after his arrival in Boston, which was his objective point, he became assistant editor of the Albanian weekly newspaper, the Kombi. He found time to study for the priesthood and was ordained March 8, in the Russian cathedral, East 97th st, New York. He is the master of a number of languages, among which are Greek, French, English, Italian, Arabic, Turkish and some German, in addition to his native speech.
Rev Mr Noli said that there are about 30,000 of his countrymen in the United States, and that most of them are communicants of the Greek Orthodox church. Speaking of Albania, a province in Macedonia, he said that its 3,000,000 inhabitants are divided among three religious faiths, Roman Catholicism, the Greek church and Mahometanism. The country has been under Turkish domination since the death of its last king, George Castriot, in 1463. There has never been any religious strife in Albania, but the Turkish government forbids the use of the Albanian language in the schools, and every book and pamphet [sic] written in that tongue is confiscated.
The Greek patriarch anathematized the Albanian translations of the Bible, which were purchased from the Bible society of London, and all these copies were confiscated. In the face of such difficulties it was impossible for national unity, as the leaders were persecuted and condemned to exile or death.
Fr Noli intends to establish churches wherever he finds his countrymen, in this country, Roumania, Russia and Egypt. He has translated the service book into his native tongue, and he intends to render other religious works into Albanian for his people.
I’m a tad skeptical of Noli’s claim that there were 30,000 Albanians in America in 1908. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports 410 Albanian Orthodox in two churches. By 1926, there were 1,993 parishioners in nine parishes, and in 1936, those numbers had grown to 3,137 people in 13 congregations.
Noli traveled to Albania in 1913, where he served the first Albanian-language church service in Albania itself. With the onset of World War I, he returned to the US, eventually becoming the official administrator of the Albanian parishes under the Russian Archdiocese. When the war ended, Noli again went to Albania, where he became deeply involved in politics. In 1923, he was consecrated a bishop, the new head of the Albanian Orthodox Church. He became Prime Minister of Albania the next year, but was soon expelled from the country. In 1932, he returned to the US and headed the Albanian Archdiocese until his death on March 13, 1965.