Getting to Know our Orthodox Christian Saints who Lived, Labored and Served in America

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Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

Orthodox Christian Saints of North America

Orthodox Christian Laity starts off the New Year by introducing a new feature on the OCL web site:  Getting to Know our Orthodox Christian Saints who Lived, Labored and Served in America.  This feature is dedicated to celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in 1970.

It is time for the clergy and laity to come to realize that the American Orthodox Experience is unique. Our unique new world geography has helped us create a multi-cultural Orthodox presence here. Even before there was structured church life here (dioceses, etc.), our Orthodox people, by their presence and faith, were developing a unique Church.  Two hundred years later, we are a mature Church. We have seminaries, an educated clergy, and hundreds of church communities. Most importantly, we have American Saints, and it is time to know who they are.  All these factors make us a mature Church.  In every way, we are the sister church to the Churches that were once within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire.

The great challenge in America is that the governing structure of the Church is uncanonical.  In the United States, for instance, there are about 58 bishops who are members of 14 separate jurisdictions.  Some of them live in the same city, contrary to canon law.  For 11 years as an Assembly of Bishops, they have been trying to address this uncanonical situation but are at an impasse.  The solution is that the 58 bishops need to be one synod in the USA and elect their own head. They just do not seem to be able to overcome their ties to foreign patriarchates.  Nevertheless, this fact has not stopped the laity from developing a mature Church on the grassroots level, by cooperating on many levels.

To continue to grow in our maturation process, we need to learn more about our history as Orthodox in America.  We need to study the lives of the Orthodox Saints.  We will start by introducing each month the lives of one or more of our Saints who sanctified America by their presence, faith and witness of their lives dedicated to God. We pray that they intercede for us, so we become one unified Orthodox Church in America.

Following is a list of American Orthodox Christian Saints:

  • Alexander Hotovitzky
  • Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, leader of ex-Uniates into Orthodoxy
  • Basil Martysz, hieromartyr in Poland
  • Brendan the Navigator, leader of short-lived 6th c. Irish monastic community in Canada
  • Herman of Alaska, first missionary to Alaska
  • Innocent of Alaska, missionary bishop to Alaska
  • Jacob Netsvetov
  • John Kochurov
  • John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco
  • Juvenaly of Alaska
  • Nicholas (Velimirović), bishop of Žiča, rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary
  • Peter the Aleut, protomartyr of America
  • Raphael (Hawaweeny), vicar bishop of Brooklyn under Moscow Patriarchate
  • Seraphim (Samoylovich) of Uglich, missionary in Alaska and hieromartyr under the Soviets
  • Tikhon of Moscow
  • Barnabas (Nastić), the New Confessor, born in Gary, Indiana
  • Anatole (Kamensky) of Irkutsk, New Hieromartyr and Archbishop of Irkutsk
  • Sebastian (Dabovich), archimandrite, “Serbian Apostle to America”, first orthodox priest born in the USA
  • Mardarije (Uskokovic), Serbian Bishop of America and Canada

George Matsoukas


The following accounts are from the website of the Orthodox Church in America:

St. Alexander Hotovitzky
Missionary to America and Hieromartyr under the Bolshevik Yoke

Born: February 11, 1872 (Kremenetz, Volhynia, Russia)
Died: August 19, 1937 (Moscow)
Glorification Date: December 4, 1994
Commemoration Dates: December 4 (Glorification)

The Life of St. Alexander Hotovitzky
Liturgical Music Downloads
Icon of St. Alexander with scenes from his life
Life icon of St. Alexander scenes explained
Photos of the Glorification of St. Alexander


St. Alexis Toth (of Wilkes-Barre)
Confessor & Defender of Orthodoxy in America

Born: March 18, 1854 (Austro-Hungary)
Died: May 7, 1909 (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)
Glorification Date: May 29-30, 1994
Commemoration Dates: May 7 (repose)

The Life of St. Alexis Toth
Liturgical Music Downloads
Icon of St. Alexis with scenes from his life
Life icon of St. Alexis scenes explained
Photos of the Glorification of St. Alexis
Photos of the birthplace of St. Alexis


New Martyr Archpriest Basil
[Vasily] Martysz

Born: February 20, 1874
Died: May 4, 1945
Glorification Date: June 7-8, 2003
Commemoration Dates: May 4

The Life of St. Basil Martysz


Brendan the Navigator
(of Clonfert)

Born: 484
Died: 577
Commemoration Date: May 16

St Brendan was born around 484 at Tralee in Kerry, Ireland. He founded several monasteries in Ireland, including Cluain Ferta Brenaind (or Clonfert) in County Galway. His missionary and pastoral travels took him on voyages to the Scottish islands, and possibly to Wales. He reposed in peace in 577.

A Latin chronicle of the early ninth century, Navigatio Brendani (The Voyage of Brendan), made him the hero of a Christian adventure that included voyages to unknown lands far to the west of Ireland. The account indicates that Irish voyagers visited America as early as the 8th century, before the Vikings; but whether St Brendan himself made these voyages is disputed, based mainly on questions as to whether a curragh, the sea craft on which Brendan sailed, would be able to make such a journey.

In 1976, Irish explorer Tim Severin built an ox leather curragh, a replica of the sort Brendan would have used, and over two summers sailed from Ireland via the Hebrides, Faroe Islands and Iceland to Newfoundland to demonstrate that the saint’s purported voyage was feasible. On his voyage, he encountered various sights such as icebergs and sea animals such as whales and porpoises which he suggests are factual counterparts to the fantastic sights from the legends of Brendan. (See The Brendan Voyage, ISBN 0-349-10707-6.) – Orthodox Wiki

St. Brendan’s Journey & Immigration – Orthodox Canada


St. Herman of Alaska
Wonderworker of All America

Born: around 1756-1760 (Serpukhov, Moscow Diocese, Russia)
Died: December 25, 1837 (Spruce Island, Alaska)
Glorification Date: August 9, 1970
Commemoration Dates: August 9 (glorification)

The Life of Saint Herman of Alaska
Liturgical Music Downloads
A Chronology of Events on the Life of Saint Herman of Alaska
Icon of Saint Herman with scenes from his life
Life icon of St. Herman scenes explained
Message of His Grace, Bishop Theodosius
Address of the Great Council of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America Concerning The Canonization of the Spiritual Father Herman of Alaska
Prayer to Saint Herman
On the occasion of the Canonization of Saint Herman by Bishop Dmitri
Hierarchs and Clergy celebrating the Services of Canonization of Saint Herman
Photos of the Canonization of Saint Herman


St. Innocent of Alaska
Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of North America

Born: August 26, 1797 (Anginskoye, Irkutsk)
Died: March 31, 1879 (Moscow, Russia)
Glorification Date: October 6, 1977
Commemoration Dates: October 6 (glorification) & March 31 (repose)

The Life of St. Innocent of Alaska
Liturgical Music Downloads
Evangelizer, Teacher, Visionary
Article adapted from the English translation of the Act of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church
Icon of St. Innocent with scenes from his life
Life icon of St. Innocent scenes explained


Saint Jacob Netsvetov

Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska

Born: 1802 (Atka Island, Alaska)
Died: July 26, 1864 (Sitka, Alaska)
Commemoration Date: July 26

Life of St. Jacob of Alaska


Priestmartyr John Kochurov

Born: July 13, 1871 (Bigildino-Surky, Russia)
Died: October 31, 1917 (Tsarskoye Selo, Russia)
Commemoration Date: October 31

Life of Saint John Kochurov, Hieromartyr, Missionary in America, First Clergy Martyr of the Russian Revolution


John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker

Born:  June 4, 1896
Died:  July 2, 1966
Glorification:  July 2, 1994
Universal Commemoration: July 2, 2008

Life of  John (Maximovitch), Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco


Martyr Juvenaly of Alaska

Born: 1761
Died: 1796
Glorification Date: 1980
Commemoration Dates: September 24

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