Posts tagged canonization
As noted already when discussing the criminal libel suit that then-Archimandrite Arseny (Chahovtsov) instigated against Kirczow and Curkowskyz, he had filed a civil suit as well. The civil suit made the newspapers in April and May of 1909 but nothing was mentioned about it in the New York Times again after that. An investigation into the Supreme Court archives of New York (http://www.nycourts.gov/supctmanh/county_clerk_records.htm) did reveal a file on the civil case.
On April 16th, 1912, the attorneys for both sides agreed that “the above entitled action be discontinued without costs to either party as against the other; and that an order to this effect may be entered by either party without notice.”
On April 18th, 1912, the Honorable Henry Bischoff ordered precisely that.
This certainly does not add support to those who would claim that Archbishop Arseny was innocent of having raped (or even just slept with) Mary Krinitsky. It is true, of course, that Svoboda could be innocent of libel at the same time that then-Archimandrite Arseny was innocent of accusations of rape (or even simply fathering Mary’s child). The reason the discontinuance does not help those wanting to canonize +Arseny, however, is that it shows he was unable to demonstrate that the Svoboda article was, without a doubt, a case of libel. Note, too, that this was during a time in which it was easier to prove libel than it is now.
There is always an inherent risk with a libel case–the person pressing it ends up exposing him/herself to scrutiny while the party charged with libel often walks away relatively unscathed. When this happens, it can make things look worse for the party filing the libel complaint. I think that happened here. Archimandrite Arseny was unable to prove that Svoboda committed libel, leaving those supporting his canonization without a slam dunk case exonerating him.
Make no mistake, the burden of proof lies with those who wish to canonize him. By failing to prove that the accusation was irrefutably false, Arseny left the question unanswered and we now are in the position of reviewing the evidence at hand to the best of our ability. We are also in a position, I believe, that demands we acknowledge canonization would be inopportune and imprudent.
There are a few other avenues that may be yet available for investigation but at this point, we have the criminal trial’s transcript (at least most of it) and the discontinuance of the civil case. It is quite possible we might not have anything else to find with respect to this case, but one never knows. Should I uncover additional relevant source material, I will post on that as well.
Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director
[This was published on Frontier Orthodoxy: http://frontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com]
(Editor’s note: Today, we are very pleased to introduce a new author here at OrthodoxHistory.org. Deacon Matthew Francis lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and is one of the leading historians of Orthodoxy in Canada. For some time now, he has been conducting independent research into the life of Archbishop Arseny Chagovtsov, among many other aspects of Canadian Orthodox history. The article that follows is helpful in understanding why so many people in Canada have such great affection for Abp Arseny, who, indeed, had a significant impact on Orthodoxy in both Canada and the United States.)
Over the past several weeks, much has been written – both on OrthodoxHistory.org and elsewhere – about the 1909 libel trials involving Archbishop Arseny (Chagovtsov). Unfortunately, for many casual observers, this episode, while very important, may be all they know of this fascinating figure, who played a significant role in Orthodox history in North America.
In the interests of full disclosure, and by way of personal introduction, I acknowledge up front that I write as both a deacon of the Archdiocese of Canada and as a historical researcher. While I was not a member of the Archdiocesan Committee that researched and prepared the Vita, I have over the past few years conducted oral history relating to Vladyka Arseny’s legacy, interviewing elder clergy and faithful that knew him personally. In December of 2009, I was asked by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim, to continue this research work, collaborating with Fr. John Hainsworth. I have been carrying out this task, and continue to do so. While there is much that we know about Archbishop Arseny’s life, there are also many elusive questions for which we still seek greater knowledge. So, as time permits, we endeavor to track down the various sources and pursue leads to understand more deeply the context and meaning of Archbishop Arseny’s work. It is hoped that all of these efforts, now spanning approximately twenty years within the Archdiocese of Canada, will be useful to the renewed Canonization Commission of the Orthodox Church in America as they carry out their investigative work with all prayerful diligence, faith, and prudence.
In this light, I am grateful for the work of OrthodoxHistory.org, and of both Matthew Namee and Fr. Oliver Herbel for bringing to light the sources around the 1909 criminal libel trial against the publication Svoboda. I do, however, differ from Fr. Oliver in my conclusions about the alleged 1906 rape of Mary Krinitsky. While acknowledging that it is probably impossible to establish his guilt or innocence with certainty, Fr. Oliver leans towards the possibility of Archbishop Arseny’s guilt. I believe that that there is a strong case to be made that he was, in fact, innocent. While I will articulate this claim in future posts, it should be clarified that Mary Krinitsky ultimately denied that any such assault ever happened in the first place.
The purpose of this post is not to re-state the basic introductions to Archbishop Arseny available elsewhere online, such as the Orthodox wiki article or the Vita prepared by the Canonization Committee of the O.C.A.’s Archdiocese of Canada. Rather, my purpose in writing is to briefly highlight some specific aspects of his life and career, indicating along the way some of the context behind why Archbishop Arseny has been considered for glorification as a saint. In future articles, I intend to introduce readers of this site to other aspects of Orthodox history in Canada. Along the way, I will address in detail important vignettes from the life of Archbishop Arseny, such as the occasion of his being shot in Canora, Saskatchewan while attending a clergy assembly in 1935.
Archbishop Arseny’s ministry is broad in scope, spanning continents and many different types of service over six tumultuous decades. In this post, I would like to highlight some of the historical roles that this intrepid man took on. I believe that sketching out these roles provides an appropriate balance and context to the ongoing, and essential, discussion of the serious accusations made against Archbishop Arseny. Sound discernment of whether he should be formally recognized as a God-bearing saint will emerge from this kind of balanced searching for truth, taking all things into account. While some may dismiss these themes as overtly hagiographic, they are apparent in the historical record, in letters and articles in the Vestnik, and must be given their due. St. Tikhon’s Monastery has a cache of highly relevant material easily accessible.
Archbishop Arseny transmitted Orthodox monastic life to North America
In early 1905, the young Hieromonk Arseny was serving in the North American Diocese as Rector of the Parish of St. John the Baptist in Mayfield Pennsylvania. He dreamed of developing a monastery that could serve as a spiritual heart for the mission in America. The story of the founding of what would become St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery has Archbishop Arseny as its protagonist. He traveled in a horse and buggy with St. Tikhon over the hills of Pennsylvania when the Archbishop chose the lands. He raised the money and created the plans. He fostered the Brotherhood and welcomed the first monks. He built the buildings and paid for the establishment and sustenance of the Orphanage out of his own funds. Most of all, however, Father Arseny established the first monastery in North America, rooted in the ascetic and spiritual traditions of the Orthodox faith. Working closely with Sts. Tikhon, Raphael, Alexis (Toth), and Alexander (Hotovitsky) in the years 1905-1908, Father Arseny, is described by them all with deep respect. In 1906, he was raised to the rank of Igumen by St. Tikhon, and in 1909 to Archimandrite by the Holy Synod.
I suppose such ‘external’ recognition has its place. I found it compelling, however, that in my conversations in the Summer of 2009 with a few esteemed archpriests of the O.C.A., who, as young seminarians knew the Archbishop in his last years, the word they used to describe his attitude was “repentance.” It is repentance that is at the heart of the monastic life. I hope, in due time, with their permission, to publish the transcripts of these interviews. They convey something of Archbishop Arseny’s own life and attitude – one of quietness and love, that should not be disregarded.
Archbishop Arseny proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ
During his early ministry in Canada, then Archimandrite Arseny distinguished himself and served his flock by his Gospel preaching. A few allusive quotations shed light on this aspect of +Arseny’s ministry. It was during this time, 1908-1910,
that he gained the affectionate title, “The Canadian Chrysostom” for his extraordinary preaching talents. He became famous for his sermons, which being published in an Orthodox journal of the day, The Canadian Field, eventually were read in Russia by Czar Nicolas II. The Russian Emperor was so taken with his sermons that “in order to thank him for this ‘food for the soul’ (as he referred to the articles written by Archimandrite Arseny) – bestowed on him a gold pectoral cross sent directly to him by His Majesty’s offices.” (Historical Chronology, p. 17)
We hear, for instance, in July 1909, Andrij Herbut, who was Starosta (Board Chairman) of St. Barbara’s Church in Edmonton, Alberta, about one of Arseny’s visits where many came from all over: “But when they heard the famous preacher the hearts of lost sinners were softened and many of them shed tears.” (The Life of Archbishop Arseny, p.10)
Archbishop Arseny exercised oversight of the Church
In all phases of his ministry, +Arseny intentionally looked to many dimensions of the Church’s work, both in its personal and ‘institutional’ dimensions. This is apparent in his development and initiation of many endeavours. Wherever he served for any length of time, he began to establish not only monastic life, but also pastoral schools for training potential clergy. This is evident not only at St. Tikhon’s, where he founded the school that eventually became St. Tikhon’s Seminary, but also in Canada, at Sifton, and in Winnipeg. He gave attention to such practical elements of the Church as stewardship and fundraising, personally eliciting generosity and fostering a pioneering spirit in the work of sustaining “the Mission” in North America.
These three themes are but a few of the historical threads running through the missionary career of Archbishop Arseny, whose legacy is still felt throughout the Orthodox Church in North America. This post merely sketches some of these elements, and they will be drawn together in more detail later. For now, we must let the historical task of S.O.C.H.A. and others continue to examine the life and work of Archbishop Arseny.
By way of exhortation, I hope that we will use this experience of this hierarch’s potential glorification as an opportunity for growth and maturation in the Orthodox faith. As many have said, “God knows if Archbishop Arseny is a saint, or not!” Our task is to attend to what the Lord reveals to us, and to receive from Him what is given. Let us calm our passions and endeavor to sustain wholesome relationships in the midst of this conversation. That is to say, let us all heed the good word of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. Let none of us say, “I am for Arseny,” or “I am against Arseny.” I have a feeling the Archbishop himself would be aghast at such an attitude. Rather, as we pour through the historical sources, let us all, as Orthodox Christians, seek to be for Jesus Christ, to draw near to Him – Who Is the Truth – in faith and love, and to discern with all reverence and diligence, those bearers of His love to us.
[This article was written by Deacon Matthew Francis.]
On his Frontier Orthodoxy website last week, Fr. Oliver Herbel posted an essay outlining his position on Archbishop Arseny’s canonization.
In a follow-up post, Fr. Oliver responded to the charge that he was employing a “hermeneutic of suspicion.”
Finally, on his own blog, Gabriel Sanchez used Fr. Oliver’s comments a springboard to reflect upon the nature of historical inquiry in the Orthodox Church.
For anyone interested in the Abp Arseny story, or in historiography more generally, these articles (and the thoughtful comments that follow them) make for fascinating reading. At the very least, I would strongly encourage you to read Fr. Oliver’s first article, on his position vis-à-vis the Abp Arseny canonization.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more new material, from a new contributor to OrthodoxHistory.org.
This past weekend, the Canonization Commission of the OCA issued a statement at OCA.org. According to Commission secretary (and OCA archivist) Alexis Liberovsky, the Commission will begin detailed studies of the lives of both Metropolitan Leonty Turkevich and Archbishop Arseny Chagovtsov, to determine whether the OCA should canonize them. Canonization obviously has a strongly historical element to it — after all, these are historical figures — so the potential canonization of an American saint is of special interest to historians of American Orthodoxy.
Here at OrthodoxHistory.org, we haven’t yet done a whole lot of work on Metropolitan Leonty, but he is a giant of an historical figure. The OCA statement provides a brief outline of his life:
Metropolitan Leonty [1876-1965] came to America as a young priest in 1906 to assume duties as rector of the seminary in Minneapolis, MN, which had been established by Saint Tikhon, at the time Archbishop of the Aleutians and North America. As a delegate from the North American Diocese to the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-18 in Moscow, he had experienced first-hand the horrors of the Russian Revolution. Upon returning to America, he sought to incarnate the conciliar spirit and groundbreaking decisions of the Moscow Council into the life of the Church in America in his every action. After the death of his wife, he became Bishop of Chicago in 1933. In 1950, he was elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada by a nearly unanimous vote. Many who knew him remember his personal holiness.
My favorite Leonty anecdote comes from Fr. Alexander Schmemann:
Great Lent, 1964. The special solemn service for all those persecuted for the Orthodox faith just ended at New York’s Greek Cathedral. At the end of the service Metropolitan Leonty approaches Archbishop Iakovos to thank him on behalf of the Metropolia. Something extraordinary takes place: the Greek Hierarch, in all his majesty, bows before the Elder in white, kisses his hand and says, You have a great soul.
Anyway, the statement goes on to outline Abp Arseny’s life as well. If you’ve been following our website recently, you know that we’ve devoted a good deal of attention to Arseny, particularly the 1909 rape allegations against him, and the subsequent criminal libel trial. In response to this, Liberovsky said, “The Canonization Commission has been aware for some time of the controversy surrounding Archbishop Arseny arising from allegations of serious moral transgression and unethical behavior, which has recently been publicized on the internet. These allegations, which Archbishop Arseny challenged in the courts a century ago, and attendant issues require further study and verification.”
It’s important to understand that there are actually two committees looking into the canonization of Abp Arseny. There is the main OCA Commission, of which Liberovsky is the secretary, and there is also a separate Canadian committee. Liberovsky explains, “[S]everal years ago His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada established an Archdiocesan Canonization Committee in Canada, which conducted extensive research.”
Both the Timeline and Life of Arseny were produced by the Canadian committee, not the main OCA Commission. Having recently spoken with Alex Liberovsky, I am confident that the OCA Commission will exercise due diligence in its investigations into both Leonty and Arseny.
If anyone has information or source materials that might help the Commission’s work on either Leonty or Arseny, they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791; or call 516-922-0550 extension 121.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Originally, the following was made as a comment over on Frontier Orthodoxy, but I (Fr. Oliver) have asked Fr. Andrew Morbey to write it up as a separate post because I think it is good reading for everyone. I had forgotten that I had been told that Kamenskii was canonized. I am very thankful that Fr. Andrew reminded me of this. I should also point out that Fr. Andrew says he has not actually seen an icon yet at this point. His references are, at least in part, the Irkutsk diocese website and calendars from ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. So, with no further ado, the guest post:
Readers may be interested to note that Fr. Antonii – actually Anatole (Alexey Vasilevich) – Kamenskii is glorified as a Russian New-Martyr on the calendars of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad. His memory is commemorated and heavenly intercessions are especially sought on the Feast of the Synaxis of of the New-Martyrs of the American Land (December 12/25). He is known as the New Hieromartyr Anatole (Kamensky), Archbishop of Irkutsk. Dates of his repose vary – September 20 (1920) and January 24 (1921) are sometimes given.
St Anatole went from Sitka to Minneapolis, btw. He even took a degree from the University of Minnesota – in History! He was born October 3, 1863 in the Samara diocese. In 1888 he graduated from the Samara Theological Seminary. He married and on August 6, 1888 was ordained a priest for the church of the village Hilkova in the Samara diocese.
Following the death of his wife, in 1891 he entered the St. Petersburg Theological Academy and graduated with the degree of Candidate of Theology in 1895. In the same year on August 26, Bishop Nikandr (Molchanov) tonsured him a monk and he was appointed the Rector of Sitka (Alaska) Archangel Michael Cathedral, Superintendent of missionary schools, and Dean of the Sitka District. He became an Archimandrite in 1897. In 1898 he is listed on the staff of the Bishops’ house in San Francisco. In 1899 he was appointed Head of Minneapolis missionary school (founded in 1897 it became the first Orthodox Seminary in North America in 1905). Some material concerning this period of his life can be found in Sergei Kan’s introduction of the recent edition to Tlingit Indians of Alaska. (The University of Alaska Press. Fairbanks, 1999) – a translation of St Anatole’s ethnographic work, Indiane Aliaski, published in Odessa in 1906.
Some photos of St Anatole in Alaska can be found at:
In 1903 he returned to Russia and was appointed Rector of the Odessa Theological Academy. On December 10, 1906 he was consecrated Bishop of Elizavetgrad, vicar of the diocese of Kherson. The consecration was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Consecrators: Anthony, Metropolitan of St Petersburg and Ladoga; Metropolitan Vladimir of Moscow; Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev, and other archbishops and bishops. On July 30, 1914 he was appointed Bishop of Tomsk and Altai. [Curiously, my son Rowan, also a University of Minnesota graduate in History ended up in Tomsk too] He was a member of the State Duma convocation. He attended the 1917-18 All-Russian Church Council in Moscow. In 1919 he was one of the main organizers of *Teams of the Sacred Cross* in the White Army of Admiral Kolchak. (There is an interesting story about his involvement in the attempt to move precious icons and relics to the east) After the defeat of Kolchak’s armies, however, he remained in Russia. In 1920 he was appointed Bishop of Irkutsk.
In April 1922, St Anatole was arrested by the Bolsheviks, charged with concealing church property, and in July he was sentenced to execution. His sentence was commuted to 10 years imprisonment in strict isolation, and he was retired as Bishop. In 1924 he was released from prison, and re-appointed by Patriarch Tikhon as Archbishop of Irkutsk. However,the Provincial Administration refused to allow him to register as Archbishop of Irkutsk or to occupy his Cathedral, which was then in the hands of the Living Church. St Anatole therefore resided in Omsk.
His repose is variously dated November, 1924 or September 20, 1925. One account has him dying in Omsk: “He was vouchsafed a blessed repose in the altar of the Bratsk church during the Vigil for Sunday. Sensing the weakness of his heart, he said good-bye to all and, sitting in a chair as the choir was singing ‘Glory to God in the highest’ he quietly died.
Holy Hieromartyr Anatole, pray to God for us!