The Eve of the Battle of Pacific Street

Last week, we left the two New York Syrian camps — Orthodox and Maronite — on the brink of war. Each side’s partisan newspaper attacked the other, and the Maronites took particular aim at St. Raphael, the Orthodox bishop of Brooklyn, accusing him of all sorts of outlandish offenses. Various parties received anonymous threats, and…

Trouble in Syrian New York

Way back in January, I began what I intended to be a series on the 1905 arrest and trial of St. Raphael Hawaweeny. I wrote only one article on the subject, though, and even that article was more of a collection of quotations from contemporary newspapers than an actual piece of historical work. I confess…

Agapius Honcharenko in defense of himself

Editor’s note: Today, we present the second of three historical documents recently discovered by Nicholas Chapman. On August 24, we published Nicholas’ introduction to the documents, and last week, we published a letter by St. Philaret of Moscow on the subject of Orthodoxy in America in 1865. Today’s document is an 1865 letter from Agapius Honcharenko…

St. Philaret of Moscow on Orthodoxy in America in 1865

Editor’s note: Last week, Nicholas Chapman introduced three documents he found in the National Archives in London, under the heading “The Russian Orthodox Church in America and Its Clergy in 1865.” Today, we present the first of these documents — a letter from His Holiness Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, to the Ober-Procurator of the Holy…

P.T. Barnum’s widow married in NY Greek church

P.T. Barnum was the greatest showman of the 19th century. Today, he’s most closely associated with the circus that bears his name, but in his own day, he was much more than a circus organizer. In an era before blockbuster movies, Barnum was the closest you could get to a larger-than-life Hollywood producer. He was…

Orthodoxy and Theosophy: the Vera Johnston story

In the early 1900s, a woman named Vera Johnston was involved with the Russian cathedral in New York and the seminary in Tenafly, New Jersey. With a name like Johnston, you might think that she was a convert, which is exactly what I thought when I first ran across her name. But Vera Johnston was actually a cradle-born…

A church in New York in 1850?

The first Orthodox place of worship in New York was founded in 1870, when the Russian Church established an embassy chapel under the care of Fr. Nicholas Bjerring. As we’ve discussed before, the idea of a New York chapel originated in 1866, and its purpose was primarily to further relations with the Episcopal Church. A…

Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine on ecumenism in 1907

Recently, I happened to revisit an essay by Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, published in St. Raphael’s Al Kalimat (The Word) magazine. I don’t have the precise date, but I think it was written in 1907. The whole article is on the subject of “Church Unity” — what, today, we would call “ecumenism.” Irvine’s ecclesiology is interesting. Focusing…