To shave or not to shave?

For three tumultuous decades — 1907 to 1938 — Fr. Basil Kerbawy was the dean of St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn. Apparently, in 1911, he was having some issues related to his beard, and things got so bad that he wrote to William Gaynor, the mayor of New York. I can’t resist reprinting their…

Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia

A note from Matthew Namee: What follows is a first glimpse of what is, I am confident, the most exciting research currently being done on the subject of American Orthodox history. As I’ve been telling others, my own research is pretty interesting stuff, but Nicholas Chapman’s work blows mine out of the water. Nicholas is…

Plans for a New York church in the 1870s

Immediately upon Fr. Nicholas Bjerring’s arrival in New York City in 1870, news spread that the Russian Church planned to construct a great temple in the city, on the corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue. This is from the Christian Advocate journal (6/29/1871): A magnificent structure is about to be erected by the Russian government…

More on Fr. Vladimir Alexandrov

A few days ago, we discussed the tragic story of Fr. Vladimir Alexandrov, the early 20th century Russian priest whose life reads like (as Fr. Andrew Damick has suggested) a Russian novel. Very briefly: Alexandrov accidentally killed his son; his wife had an affair with his assistant priest (and took the family’s $19,000 savings); he…

St. Innocent’s Vision

On October 18, 1867, the Russian Empire formally ceded Alaska to the United States. The next month, St. Innocent was elected Metropolitan of Moscow. Shortly after this, Innocent sent the following letter to the Ober-Procurator (the Tsar’s representative) of the Holy Synod.[*] Rumor reaching me from Moscow purports that I wrote to someone of my great unhappiness…