I recently received an email from Fr. Timothy Sawchak, of Holy Trinity OCA Church in Kansas City. He sent the above photo, of a mystery clergyman. It was, apparently, discovered at an old studio and given to Annunciation Greek Church, also in Kansas City.
There was no writing on the photo, or markings of any kind, so beyond the image itself, we don’t have much to go on. Let’s see what we can determine from the photo.
First of all, this clergyman is probably Greek. Russian priests tended to be clean-shaven (or wear goatees) in the early 20th century, while their Greek counterparts were usually bearded until the mid-1920s. So, while it’s not definitive, I strongly suspect that this is a Greek clergyman, and that the photo was taken prior to 1930. (As a commentator noted below, this could also be a Serbian priest: the Serbian church in Kansas City predates the Greek one by a few years.)
While my initial impression was that this is a bishop, on closer study, I don’t think it is. I have photos and/or sketches of most of the early Greek bishops in America, and they obviously aren’t this man. He’s not Meletios Metaxakis, or Alexander Demoglou, or Philaret Ioannides, or any of the other bishops I’ve seen. And he’s definitely not one of the Russian bishops. Most likely, he’s an archimandrite.
On first glance, the mystery clergyman seems to be wearing a Panagia (icon of the Theotokos) around his neck, but look closer: doesn’t that look more like Christ, rather than his mother? That’s pretty rare: normally, a clergyman wearing an icon around his neck is a bishop, and usually, that icon is a Panagia. (The most notable exception I know of is St. Raphael, who wore an icon of his patron, the Archangel Raphael.)
Our mystery man is also wearing a medallion of some kind. I know that the Tsar often awarded medallions to clergy under the Russian jurisdiction, but I also know that the Greeks of Kansas City were not a part of the Russian Archdiocese. Does anyone out there know if the King of Greece, or some other civil or church authority, gave out medallions like this?
One of my first thoughts was that this might be Archimandrite Theoclitos Triantafilides, who was a Greek priest under the Russian Church. As we’ve seen in the past, Triantafilides was based in Galveston, Texas, but traveled widely. He’s not known to have visited Kansas City, but it’s possible that he passed through at some point. However, looking at the only known photo of Triantafilides, it doesn’t seem like a match:
I have very rough sketches of two of the other priests. Here is Annunciation’s first priest, Fr. Chariton Panagopoulos:
And here is Fr. James Rangos, who came to Kansas City around 1912:
Rangos is described by the Kansas City Star (4/30/1913) as being 60 years old. Obviously, he’s wearing a different sort of hat, and both he and Panagopoulos had crosses — not icons — around their necks. But, as these are only rough sketches, it’s hard to draw any conclusions.
Basically, I need your help. Can any of you identify the mystery clergyman in the photo at the top of the page? If so, please either leave a comment (below), or send me an email at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com. Thank you!