This week in American Orthodox history (March 26-April 1)

March 29, 1859: Fr. Peter Ekaterinovsky (aka Lysakov) was consecrated in Irkutsk, in Siberia, and given the title Bishop of New Archangel (Sitka), Alaska. He was about 38 years old. His predecessor was St. Innocent Veniaminov, who had initially been based in Sitka as diocesan bishop. In 1852, the diocesan seat was moved to Siberia, leaving Alaska without a resident bishop. Eventually, the Russian Holy Synod rearranged things, allowing for an auxiliary bishop in Sitka, which is how we get to Bishop Peter’s consecration. Prior to that, Bishop Peter had been the rector of the Orthodox seminary in Sitka, so he was a natural choice for the new auxiliary post. As bishop, he continued St. Innocent’s missionary work; according to the book Orthodox America, he opened two new missionary schools and extended mission activity to the Bering Straits. Also, according to his entry on OrthodoxWiki, he initiated an investigation into the life of St. Herman of Alaska, which ultimately culminated in St. Herman’s canonization a century later. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire, and Bishop Peter was appointed Bishop of Irkutsk. He went on to serve as a diocesan bishop, Holy Synod official, and monastery administrator before his death in 1889.

March 31, 1879: On Holy Saturday, St. Innocent, by now the Metropolitan of Moscow, died. Rather than try to summarize his life in a paragraph (a nearly impossible task), I would recommend reading this excellent homily on St. Innocent by another great American missionary, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich.

April 1, 1959: Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis was enthroned in New York as the primate of the Greek Archdiocese.

March 26, 1965: The famous cover of LIFE magazine, featuring Martin Luther King and Archbishop Iakovos, was published. The photo was taken during the famous civil rights march to the courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama. In an earlier march, a Unitarian minister who participated was beaten to death, and Iakovos joined the next march in response to the murder. Iakovos’ involvement in the King march was featured prominently in Dr. Albert Raboteau’s 2006 “Orthodoxy in America” lecture at Fordham University, the text of which is available online.

March 29, 2000: The OCA Holy Synod proclaimed Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny to be a saint. He was consecrated on May 13.


Also, a bit of a programming note: I wasn’t able to record this as a podcast this week — time just got away from me. Sorry about that!

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