A few weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing some of the history of prayers for the US President in American Orthodox churches. After I published it, a reader named Andy Romanofsky sent along this excerpt from Chapter 1 of Archbishop Gregory Afonsky’s A History of the Orthodox Church in America: 1917-1939:
The faithful of the Orthodox Church in America never considered any form of political dependence on Russia. Just as in his own day the Russian Prince Vasili Dmitrievich (XIV century) stopped commemorating the Byzantine emperor in Russian churches on the grounds that, although the Russians received the Church from Byzantium, “they did not receive the emperor and will not have him,” so too Bishop Nicholas Zyorov, in 1896, reported to the Holy Synod that, “the commemoration of the Emperor and the Reigning House during divine services brings forth dismay and apprehension among Orthodox in America of non-Russian background. This practice is also a hindrance to the propagation of Orthodoxy among Russian Uniates who came to America from Austria-Hungary.” In an Ukase dated January 27, 1906, and addressed to Archbishop Tikhon, the Holy Synod confirmed the practice of commemorating the American President by name during divine services.
It’s not clear to me whether the Russian parishes in America actually ceased commemorating the Tsar, or whether they just began commemorating the US President along with the Russian Tsar. Frankly, I’d be very surprised if they simply removed the prayers for the Tsar altogether. They were, after all, still a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian hierarchs were still subjects of the Russian Emperor. If anyone has more details on this, please let me know.
2 Replies to “Prayers for the President: an addendum”
In the Hapgood of 1906, done for the Russian Archdiocese and under St. Tikhon (then Archbishop) and his predecessor Bishop Nicholas, words it “Here follow petitions for the Ruler of the Land and for all the Authorities (Emperor, or King, and Reigning House, or President, according to the elements and nationalities of which the Parish is constituted).”
there was a letter to the NY Times complaining on Dec. 30, 1907
about the Russian Consul and Ambassador acting as incorporators of Churches in NY. Fr. Irving replied Dec. 31, 1907
challenging the writer to come to the English services, and noting that the Cathedral prayed of the US President.
The rant of March 16, 1913 dimissed the Russian Archdiocese as “Russia’s conspiracy against Americanization.” If the Churches were commemorating the Czar, I doubt they would have missed the oportunity to point that out.
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