Posts tagged Chicago
In 1893, the World’s Fair was held in Chicago. In conjunction with the Fair, something called the “World’s Parliament of Religions” was held from September 11-27. This was a remarkable gathering, which brought together not only Christian leaders of various denominations, but people of every religious stripe — Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. It seems to have been more of a spectacle than anything substantive, although, as we’ve discussed previously, the crazy Antiochian archimandrite Christopher Jabara thought that perhaps the Parliament could come up with a brand-new, global religion. His hopes were unfulfilled.
Anyway, besides Jabara, at least two other Orthodox leaders gave speeches at the Parliament — Fr. Panagiotis Phiambolis of Chicago’s new Greek church, and Archbishop Dionysius Latas of Zante (Zakynthos). Latas was by far the most significant Orthodox figure at the gathering, and from the time of his arrival in America, he was a media sensation. He also happens to have been the first non-Russian Orthodox hierarch to set foot in the New World. This is the first of several articles that will chronicle his visit to America.
Latas arrived in America at the end of July, and on August 1, the New York newspapers ran stories about him. Here’s a brief biography, from the New York Tribune:
Dionysius Latas was born in Zante in 1836. At an early age he attended the Greek Seminary in Jerusalem, where he remained for ten years, afterward spending four years at the University of Athens. Later he studied for a year in the University of Strasburg, before the annexation to Germany, and three years at the universities of Berlin, Leipsic and other German universities, and then spent some time in England. From 1870 to 1884 he was the eloquent preacher of Athens, when he became Archbishop.
Latas was thus about 57 when he came to the United States. He was accompanied by his deacon, Homer Peratis, and one of their first stops was the new Greek church in New York. “I preached yesterday in the little Greek church in this city,” Latas told the New York Times (8/1/1893), “and it reminded me of the little churches I preached in years ago when I was an Archimandriti.”
Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but Latas was a very, very popular preacher when he was an archimandrite in Athens. I have a letter from a Protestant visitor to Athens in 1870 — so, just at the outset of Latas’ preaching career. This letter, written by a certan Rev. Dr. Goodwin of First Congregational Church in Chicago, was published in the New York Evangelist (7/21/1870), and provides a glimpse into the sort of figure the young (34-year-old) Latas was:
The chief sensation of Athens just now is a priest named Dionysius Latos, and among the mummeries dinning the ear on every side during these festivities, it was refreshing to find one service that was an exception. This young priest was originally one of the candle-snuffers, a lad of no education, and with no apparent gifts, except a fine rich voice. Promoted because of this to assist in the chorals, he somehow obtained leave to talk or preach, and astonished every one, and greatly captivated the people by his eloquence. He speedily acquired a wide notoriety, and won many friends. Among them was a rich Athenian, who proposed to him to spend three years in the schools of Germany and France, at his expense. He accepted the offer, spent time in diligent application, and has just returned, and is creating the highest enthusiasm.
I went on Friday morning to hear him preach, and found the church literally packed. And the Greek churches having no seats, admit of such a crowding as is entirely unknown to American audiences. There was no getting near the main entrance, the throng extending into the street. I found a side door, however, to the women’s gallery, and there at last succeeded, by climbing upon a pile of boards, in getting a view of the preacher and his congregation. Below me was a sea of men’s faces, all upturned toward a man of fine intellectual features, and searching dark eyes, and who in the black gown and round brimless hat or high stiff fez of a Greek priest, stood in a pulpit projecting from one of the columns near the middle of the church.
I was impressed at once with the earnestness of the preacher’s face and manner. There was that in the kindling of the eye, the tone of the voice, and the sweep of the hand even, that witnessed unmistakably to the preacher’s deep conviction of the truth and importance of his words. One could not look and listen without a conscious sympathy in response It would have been no common privilege to hear the language of Socrates and Demosthenes spoken, and that in their own Athens, with the distinctness and grace and fervor which marked the speaker’s utterance. Certainly there was a rhythm and music and richness about it that I had never imagined, and that seemed to thrill and move the people somewhat as did the great orators in those earlier days.
But when in the course of a fervent passage my ears caught in Greek the words, “Ye men of Athens,” and then following the whole discourse of Paul from Mars Hill, in the very words he used, and under the very shadow of the spot where he stood, I felt as if centuries were suddenly rolled back, and not a Greek priest, but a greater than he, and a greater than Demosthenes or Plato were there before me, preaching in this wonderful language Christ and Him crucified. I could only now and then understand a word, but caught enough to divine that the theme of the discourse was the love of God as revealed in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The preacher continued for a full hour and a half, closing with many quotations of Scripture and with much impassioned eloquence, and the people stood eager to the end. It is believed here by those who know Latos intimately, that he is in every respect heartily in sympathy with evangelical religion. And the hope is warmly cherished that he will prove to the Greek Church in Athens far more than Pere Hyacinthe to the Latin Church in Paris — a fearless and mighty apostle of the truth, that cannot be cajoled from his purpose by flatteries, nor silenced by threats.
Latas was a genuine sensation, and as a bishop, he remained a prominent figure in the Church of Greece. He spoke out against anti-Semitism, advocated (as did so many in those days) dialogue with the Episcopalians, and was skeptical that any sort of union would happen with Rome. When he came to the United States, he was warmly welcomed by the various Episcopalian bishops that he encountered. Immediately upon his arrival, he was invited by Bishop Henry Potter to join him at Saratoga Springs. We’ll pick up the Latas story there.
Fr. Misael Karydis served at Holy Trinity Greek Church in New Orleans from 1881 to 1901. Throughout the 1880s, he was the only Orthodox priest in between the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and even in the 1890s, he was basically the only Orthodox priest in the American South. As such, his duties were not limited to the New Orleans parish alone.
In 1886, Karydis stopped in Chicago en route from New York back to New Orleans. I don’t know why he was in New York, but when he got to Chicago, he was met by a multiethnic community of Orthodox Christians. From the Chicago Herald (5/31/1886):
As novel a church service as any that ever took place in Chicago was that of Rev. Dr. Mixall, of the Greek Church, at Berry’s Hall, corner of Washington Boulevard and Sangamon street, at 9:30 yesterday morning. There is no Greek church in this city, and never has been, and, aside from the novelty of the service on this account, it was made still more peculiar by reason of the mixed character of the audience which required that the services be conducted in the Greek and Slav tongues at the same time.
Dr. Mixall is the pastor of the Greek Church in New Orleans, and was passing through the city on his way home from New York. An altar had been improvised out of two dry goods boxes, covered with sheeting. On the larger six candles were placed, and two on the smaller beside some bread, a spear-shaped knife and a chalice of wine.
Dr. Mixall is a stout, flord-faced man, with long, wavy hair, a high forehead and thick moustache and chin beard. When he entered the church his congregation rose to greet him, and when he stepped aside at the altar to put on his robes of office, which are similar in many respects to those of the Romish Church, five Greeks with musical voices stepped up to one side of the altar and a score of Slavs to the other side. The mass was intoned first by the Greeks and then by the Slavs, but the service, aside from this dual character and the quaint music of the singers, was not much unlike the Catholic church service.
I find it especially interesting that there were two sets of chanters, and that the service was done in both Greek and Slavonic. It’s not clear from the description whether the Greeks and Slavs went back-and-forth in their singing, or whether the Greeks did the first half of the service and the Slavs the second. Either way, it was an creative way to deal with the multiethnic situation.
The Herald went on to explain that almost 100 people attended the service, despite the fact that only a part of the Orthodox community had been notified of Fr. Misael’s arrival. And they were generous, too — the newspaper reporter was impressed with the size of the collection, saying that it was “far more liberal than those in English-speaking churches.” The reporter concluded, “It is likely that Dr. Mixall’s visit will result in the founding of a Greek church in this city.”
In the past, we have discussed at length the later history of Orthodoxy in Chicago — how the community tried to form a parish, but failed, and how, in 1892, separate Greek and Russian parishes were founded almost simultaneously. But Karydis’ visit predates all of that, and his 1886 Divine Liturgy seems to have been the first ever celebrated in Chicago.
According to some sources, Archimandrite Kallinikos Kanellas was the first ethnic Greek priest to serve in America. And those sources may be right, depending on your definition of “Greek.” The only other candidates would be from the Greek church in New Orleans. Fr. Stephen Andreades was the priest in the late 1860s, and Fr. Gregory Yayas served there from 1872-74; considering their names, both were almost certainly Greeks of one sort or another. Archimandrite Misael Karydis (or Kalitski) was the priest from 1881-1901, but he was reportedly from Bulgaria. In any event, Kanellas was one of the very first Greek priests in America.
I don’t know anything about Kanellas’ early life. I do know that, before he came to the United States, Kanellas had spent some time in India. From 1880 to 1886, he was the rector of the Greek church in Calcutta (the origins of which dated to the 1700s; see this fascinating history for more information). He first shows up in the US in 1889, as one of the priests of the Russian cathedral in San Francisco. He seems to be the first of several non-Russian priests brought over to America to serve in the Russian Diocese — “client clergy,” as Fr. John Erickson has called them. Soon, he would be followed by people like Fr. Ambrose Vretta, Fr. Theoklytos Triantafilides, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny, and Fr. Michael Andreades. But Kanellas seems to have been the original.
I’m not sure what Kanellas was doing from 1886 to 1889, but I suspect he might have been in Russia. This would explain his connection to the Russian Diocese in America.
Kanellas appears to have been trusted by Bishop Vladimir Sokolovsky, who appointed him to serve on the Alaskan Spiritual Consistory, the group of clergy which ran many of the day-to-day affairs of the diocese. He was particularly useful in ministering to ethnic Greeks. In 1891, he made a cross-country missionary trip. He stopped in Savannah, Georgia, and baptized a Greek child. The Columbus Enquirer-Sun (6/24/1891) reported that the child’s father spent $650, which presumably included transportation and lodging costs. The paper said that the amount “includes a handsome fee.” $650 seems outrageous, though. I checked an online inflation calculator, and it estimated that $650 in 1891 is equivalent to over $15,000 in 2008.
From Savannah, Kanellas went to New York City, where he baptized the daughter of Anthony Ralli (who was possibly connected with the well-known Ralli Brothers merchant firm). The New York Sun (6/26/1891) said that Kanellas had a “patriarchal beard and jewelled gown.” According to one account, he actually had to bring his own baptismal font — can you imagine taking one of those on a train?
I’ve seen some references to Kanellas having served in Chicago. That’s a bit of a puzzler… In July 1891, the Chicago Inter Ocean (7/11/1891) reported that a certain Archimandrite Lininas, “who presides over a temple in San Francisco,” was visiting Chicago and holding services for the Orthodox there. I haven’t been able to find evidence of this Fr. Lininas being in San Francisco, and it’s very possible that this was actually Kanellas, on his way back from New York to California. However, the Inter Ocean says that Fr. Lininas “is a finely educated gentleman, speaking German, Russian, and French fluently, but his English is best understood through an interpreter.” So according to the paper, he didn’t speak Greek (which, if true, means he wasn’t Kanellas).
In 1892, amid much turmoil and scandal, Bp Vladimir was recalled to Russia and replaced with Bishop Nicholas Ziorov. On July 1 (June 19 Old Style), the members of the Spiritual Consistory (of which Kanellas was apparently no longer a member) wrote to the new bishop,
Today, the Archimandrite Kallinikos was informed that he has to leave the Mission as of July 1. He replied that he has nowhere to go. In accordance with Your Grace’s will, we deemed it was better to say nothing in reply: Your Grace has ordered not to drive him out.
Obviously, something was up, but I don’t know what. The 1893 San Francisco city directory doesn’t list Kanellas among the cathedral clergy, so he didn’t stick around much longer. And for the next 18 years, I can’t figure out he was. I’m pretty sure he stayed in America, and by at least 1911 (and probably earlier), he was pastor of the Greek church in Birmingham, Alabama. In the 1913 book Greeks in America, Thomas Burgess, writing about the Birmingham church, said,
Of its former pastor, says the “Greek-American Guide,” “The Rev. Arch. Kallinikos Kanellas is a very sympathetic and reverend old man of whom it is possible to say that of the Greek clergy in America he is the most—shall we say ‘disinterested’? The Greek word is a dandy, (literally, ‘not loving of riches’). Plutarch used to use that word.
In 1913, Kanellas moved to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He spent the rest of his life there. This is from Annunciation’s parish history:
Father Kallinikos Kanellas was brought to Little Rock on a permanent basis in 1913, and services were held in an upstairs meeting hall near 9th and Main Streets for the next eight years. This hall included a small chapel for Liturgies and Sacraments such as weddings, baptisms, etc., as well as a place for social gatherings. Incidentally, research indicates that Father Kanellas probably was the first Orthodox priest of Greek ancestry to come to the United States. When Father Kanellas became seriously ill, young Theo Polychron visited him daily, bringing soup from his little café. Father died in 1921 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery where most of the early Greek immigrants were also interred.
As you can see, Kanellas’ story has a lot of missing pieces. I suspect a lot of the gaps could be closed by a letter Kanellas wrote to Archbishop Meletios Metaxakis on March 16, 1918, in which he gave an account of his career in both the Russian Diocese and the Greek communities in America. That letter appears on page 333 of Paul Manolis’ History of the Greek Church in America in Acts and Documents… unfortunately, though, I can’t read Greek, so for now, I don’t know what the letter says. If any of you out there can read Greek and are interested in Kanellas, email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
I always laugh a little bit when I hear people complain about Orthodox involvement in things like the World Council of Churches. It’s not that I support such involvement — my position on modern ecumenical relations really isn’t relevant here — but I laugh because I can’t imagine what the present-day anti-ecumenists among us would say about what was going on at the turn of the last century.
For instance, can you imagine what would happen if the World Council of Churches was expanded to include Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists? And if Orthodox bishops and priests were some of the main participants? That’s what happened at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where the “Parliament of Religions” tried to serve as a veritable United Nations for religion.
In the future, we’ll talk in detail about the Orthodox involvement in this event. For now, though, I’d like to focus on one of the Orthodox attendees in particular — the Antiochian archimandrite Fr. Christopher Jabara, who held the most extreme views of any of the Orthodox who were present.
For a number of years, Jabara had been the head of the Antiochian metochion (representation church) in Moscow. During this period, Jabara happened to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch, and he helped arrange for an Antiochian student to attend the Patriarchal seminary at Halki. That student? A young monk named Raphael Hawaweeny.
A decade later, Jabara ran into problems in Russia. Apparently, he started talking about all religions being the same — particularly Christianity and Islam. This incurred the ire of the Metropolitan of Moscow, who ran him out of the country. His replacement as head of the metochion? Deacon Raphael Hawaweeny.
I’m not sure exactly where Jabara went after that, but by the end of 1892, he was in New York — one of the first Antiochian priests to come to America. He was carrying credentials from the Patriarch of Antioch (or at least, that’s what he said; unless we can inspect them, we can’t really be certain). The local Syro-Arab Orthodox, who were just glad to see an Antiochian priest, welcomed Jabara, and they set up a temporary chapel at Cedar and Washington Streets in New York City. At some point along the way, Jabara authored a book entitled, The Unity of Faith and the Harmony of Religions. The next year, the Parliament of Religions met in Chicago, and Jabara was there. Among other things, he said,
My brothers and sisters in the worship of God! All the religions now in this general and religious congress are parallel to each other in the sight of the whole world. Every one of these religions has supporters who prefer their own to other religions, and they might bring some arguments or reasons to convince others of the value and truth of their own form of religion.
Therefore, I think that a committee should be selected from the great religions to investigate the dogmas and to make a full and perfect comparison, and, approving the true one, to announce it to the people. This is easy to do in America, and especially in Chicago, as here the means for realization may be found.
First, there is full religious liberty; second, there is great progress in all branches of science; third, there is presence of great learning; fourth, wealth and benevolence; fifth, the piety of the American people in general and their energy in so many things useful to humanity, making this country a refuge to all nations.
Columbus discovered America for the whole world and discovered a home for the oppressed of all nations. As Columbus discovered America, so must Americans show the people of all nations a new religion in which all hearts may find rest.
That wasn’t all. Jabara told the Globe reporter,
I think and believe that when the gospels and the Koran, which are really one, are reconciled and the two great peoples, Christians and Mahometans, are also reconciled, the whole world will come into unity and all differences fade away.
All the human kind will become brethren in worshipping the true God and following Christ, the savior of the world, and I, as a servant of religion during all my life, have come from far away Damascus on my own account and in my poverty pray, in the name of God the omnipresent, that the people may consider my ideas on the unity of religion, especially between the sacred books.
Needless to say, the Syro-Arabs ran Jabara out of New York. There’s a story, probably apocryphal, that when Jabara returned to the chapel, his key didn’t work — somebody had already changed the locks. (This story is printed in the Antakya Press life of St. Raphael.)
Jabara stayed in America, and, as I said, he was in Boston in March of 1894. But he wasn’t there to minister to the Orthodox of the city; according to the Globe, he “came to Boston especially as a center of Unitarianism where the tenets of religion and the principles of his mission can be sifted and appreciated.”
Eventually, Jabara left the US, traveling to Egypt. An American Protestant named John Henry Barrows met him there in 1896-97, and wrote this account:
Two other men, who were present at the Parliament, I unexpectedly met at the Sunday services in the American Mission. One of them is Christophora Jibara, formerly Archimandrite of Damascus. He is still very active and earnest in what he deems his chief mission, persuading Christians to give up the doctrine of the Trinity, which prevents, as it seems to him, their coming into any union with Mohammedans and Jews. He believes that Christ is the Son of God and wrought a gospel of redemption. Jibara is a master of several languages, and I tried in vain to persuade him to employ his powers of speech in preaching a positive gospel, instead of smiting all his life at a dogma which has worn out many hammers.
I don’t know what happened to Jabara after 1897. The last traces I’ve found of him are from 1901, when Gerasimos Messara, the Metropolitan of Beirut, wrote a reply to an open letter by Jabara. (I don’t have copies of either Jabara’s letter or Met. Gerasimos’ reply; all I’ve found is this Google Books reference.)
With Jabara out of the picture, the Syro-Arabs in America still needed a priest. In 1895, they finally got one. His name? Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny.
Sometimes, we historians deal with big, important issues. Other times, we obsess over minutae. Today is one of the latter occasions.
Chicago’s OCA cathedral, known for the past century as Holy Trinity, had a lot of names in its early years. It’s a pretty convoluted history, and I am attempting to unravel it. Here’s what I’ve got so far.
The parish was formally founded as St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on May 18, 1892, and it was originally located at #20 North Peoria. By the next spring, the church had moved to #13 South Center Avenue, and in May, we find the first reference to the parish as St. Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church. It’s possible that the name was changed along with the location.
Most of the time, the newspapers didn’t bother to refer to the parish name at all, instead just calling it the “Russian Church,” or something like that. But it was clearly just “St. Vladimir” into 1895. Then, on November 23, a new name appears: St. Ivan Russian Orthodox Church.
But the parish didn’t just become “St. Ivan.” In the years that followed, both names were used in the newspapers. “St. Vladimir” tends to be the dominant name, but “St. Ivan” pops up a number of times as well. It’s a bit of a mystery. The priest of the church was, of course, Fr. John (Ivan) Kochurov, so it’s possible that his own name got mixed up with that of the parish. But “St. Ivan” appeared numerous times, in multiple newspapers, over a period of several years, so it hardly seems like a simple error. Perhaps some of our readers associated with Holy Trinity Cathedral could shed some light on this.
In any event, in 1902, the parish broke ground for a new cathedral on Leavitt Street. While the new structure was being built, the community continued to be called, “St. Vladimir,” but once the move was complete, the name was changed one final time, to Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
Another interesting wrinkle is the persistence of the original name, ”St. Nicholas.” While the parish was never called that after 1892 or so, the it did have a “Brotherhood of St. Nicholas.” I’ve found references to this brotherhood in 1899 and again in 1902, but I don’t know exactly what its function was.