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St. Peter the Aleut #175089 08/08/02 01:34 PM
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Dmitri Rostovski Offline OP
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Slava Jesu Kristu,

I have much respect for the Synaxis of Orthodox Saints in America. However, St. Peter the Aleut, who was killed by Catholic Missionaries for not converting from Orthodoxy, presents a problem. My question is: How are we as Byzantine Catholics to handle those individuals as models of veneration? On the same note, how would the Orthodox handle someone like St. Andrew Bobola who was killed by the Cossaks?

I know this issue has come-up before, but I am interested in the opinions on these two Saints of the Church.

Dmitri

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175090 08/08/02 02:09 PM
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Hieromonk Elias Offline
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What is worse, Catholics have killed Catholics and Orthodox have killed Orthodox, who are now honoured as martyrs for the faith. These passion bearers and martyrs are venerated, even though it was Christians and co-religionists who were the instruments of their suffering and martyrdom. It is not only pagans and non-Christians who have swelled the ranks of the holy and glorious martyrs of God!

If practicing Catholics can create martyrs of their fellow Catholics, I do not see why there is a problem extending the honor to the Orthodox, and the converse should also be true.

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175091 08/08/02 02:14 PM
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Dmitri Rostovski Offline OP
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Bless Father,

Thank You. I did not think about it that way. I agree that the fact that they were willing to die for what they believed even if againsts our own beliefs is the true Christian testament.

Dmitri

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175092 08/08/02 02:34 PM
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Dmitri,

Fr. Elias is quite correct. It was fellow Catholics who burned St. Joan of Arc at the stake.

We should have no reservation in honoring Orthodox saints. The fact that St. Peter the Aleut was killed for refusing to abandon the Eastern Church makes him even more appropriate for veneration.

In Christ,
Lance


My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.
Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175093 08/08/02 02:35 PM
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Dear Dmitri,

You've raised an issue that has fascinated me as an amateur Hagiographer! ("Amateur" only in that I love doing it, and not that I'm not really good at it smile ).

Fr. Elias raises the issue of whether Catholics who are killed by other Catholics can be martyrs.

In fact, the Catholic Church has formally declined to say so.

This comes up most forcefully in the discussions surrounding the Cause of Jerome Savonarola who was the Apocalyptic Florentine Monk burned at the stake, along with two other Dominican confreres, for prophesying against the sinfulness of the city's inhabitants, including the Borgias etc.

The Dominicans have always venerated Savonarola privately and in Florence and elsewhere there was even a cult to him with Masses of devotion to him, medals struck of "Blessed Jerome Savonarola" and the like.

St Philip Neri and St Catherine of Genoa both revered Savonarola and Neri even wore a medal-relic of the fiery Dominican reformer on his chest.

The "Devil's Advocate" in Neri's Cause even proposed that his veneration for Savonarola, who had been excommunicated by Alexander VI, should be stopped for this reason. But the matter was ordered "passed over."

Pope Julius II had a picture of Savonarola painted in the Vatican, but without having Jerome's name printed on it so few would know who this really was. Julius II wanted to canonize Savonarola but was persuaded otherwise since the Borgias were around and might be offended.

The pope was also asked how a martyr could be declared when it was the Church itself that condemned him!

The pope said, "The confession of sin is not what pollutes, the sin itself is what pollutes."

There is a society that advances the Cause of Savonarola (indeed, Met. Andrew Sheptytsky was a member of it and before his death in 1944 a book on Savonarola's life was found on his bed).

But some Catholic scholars still argue the question as to how someone could be declared a martyr if it is the Church itself that martyred him or her?

One way around that, as happened in Joan of Arc's case, is to simply defer declaring a Saint a "Martyr" and just be content with the sainthood status.

Fr. Holweck (are you making footnotes, Gerard? smile )
in his "Dictionary of the Saints" that was last published, I believe, in 1924 at least my copy was, does list a number of interesting cases in this regard.

He lists the Orthodox St Isidore and the 72 Orthodox Martyrs at Dorpats in Estonia as "Martyrs for their Rite and nationality" as they were killed on orders of the RC Archbishop for refusing to become Latin Catholic (not even "uniates!").

When Orthodox groups come into union with Rome, the practice is that overtly "anti-Catholic" Orthodox saints are dropped from the calendar. The Ethiopian Catholics had "St Pontius Pilate" dropped from theirs.

But normally we don't question each other's canonizations. And, of course, one Church is not required to receive the cult of another's local, regional or even national saints.

I doubt very much if St Peter the Aleut would ever be accepted in the Latin Church, precisely because he was martyred at the hands of Catholics.

But who knows?

The point is how we interpret the life of Peter the Aleutian.

If we say he is an Orthodox martyr at the hands of the Latin heretics etc. that may pose a problem for Eastern Catholics smile .

If we see him as a Martyr for the Christian traditions he recieved as an Orthodox and who refused to be baptized again having been baptized already as Orthodox, then there should be no problem.

I think we have a better grasp of historical context today. Even St Mark of Ephesus whom Holweck calls that "Furious Schismatic" when seen in his proper historical context and with more information available to us is not that at all.

He was, in fact, a pro-union Orthodox prelate who put down the removal of the Filioque in the Creed as the minimum and really only requirement for the restoration of unity. But then we know the rest of the story.

There are also two Akathists to St Vladimir the Great, one Orthodox and one Catholic. They differ by one line where the Orthodox state that he rejected the Latin heresy for Orthodoxy and where the Catholics say he preferred the beauty of the Orthodox liturgy over all others.

It really is all a matter of interpretation.

St Alexis Toth whom many Eastern Catholics honour often referred to Basilian priests as "jerks" in his diaries.

So where does one draw the line?

Alex

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175094 08/08/02 02:42 PM
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Daniil Offline
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The army of Kyivan Rus' was the one that was attacking Constantiople when the St. Andrew witnessed the Mother of God protecting the city. Today, the Greeks, who were saved, do not celebrate this feast. In Ukraine, the loosing side, the day is a national holiday.

There is a difference between punishing heretics and punishing people you thought were heretics and then realizing you were wrong. How we decide that we were wrong is up to commissions and synods.

Daniil

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175095 08/08/02 03:27 PM
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To quote one of my favorites:

"A Christian does not reject good even if it comes from non-religious people; but rejects force, dictatorship, and hatred even if they are perpetrated in the name of Christ (Matt. 7.21; 21.28-31; Mark 9.40)."
-from A Credo for Today\'s Christian by Father Alexander Men


With an attitude like that, a Catholic could easily venerate Peter the Aleut, and an Orthodox could venerate Andrew Bobola... or (like me) Teodor Romzha. biggrin

There's a joint icon of Saints Peter the Aleut and Andrew Bobola here .

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175096 08/08/02 05:46 PM
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Dear Chtec,

Yes, it is an excellent article.

Another aspect to all this is of course the political-secular that is often conveniently overlookd by theologians and churchmen (I guess they're not big on the social sciences in the seminaries, are they?).

Andrew Bobola was a Polish Jesuit who was bringing entire Orthodox villages and communities into the Unia.

In his time, feelings about the Unia were, well, rather heated smile .

And the result of the Unia at that time was a rapid Polonization, as well as Latinization of the Ukrainian/Belarusyan aristocracy and Church.

Latinization was synonymous with Polonization or "denationalization."

The Kozaks fought the Poles as enemies of Orthodoxy and enemies of their nation. The Jesuits were special targets for their chicanery and involvement in what was seen as both religious and national assimilation.

The same was true on the Catholic side.

St. Athanasius Filipovich was the Ukrainian Orthodox Ihumen of Brest when the Union of Brest-Litovsk was signed.

He really didn't have any strong views on the matter until he saw the Polish government and militia start to be involved in promoting the Unia.

And that, for him, was unspiritual and an overall "Nee-Nee."

He went to the Polish Parliament or Seym and distributed small icon copies of the Miraculous Mother of God of Kupyatitsk. He then spoke against their efforts to impose the Unia by force e.g. having RC gendarmes stationed at churches to ensure that the people include the "Filioque" when they recited the creed at Sunday Liturgy.

Our people, although in union with Rome, often outsmarted the gendarmes by simply adding not the Filioque "I Syna" but what resembled it "Istynno" which means "truly" or "Who proceeds from the Father truly."

The Polish King then had Athanasius taken and placed into the safekeeping of St Peter Mohyla at Kyiv. Peter told him to calm down . . .

After the early victories of the armies of Bohdan Khmelnitsky against the Poles, the Poles were quite upset and some wanted to make an example of someone.

They arrested Athanasius and tortured him for several days, asking him if it was true that he condemned the Union of Brest Litovsk. Athanasius said, "Sure I did!"

He was then taken into the woods by soldiers, made to dig his own grave, shot twice in the dead and then buried while still alive . . .

He was later glorified a an Orthodox Venerable Martyr - the Orthodox counterpart of St Josaphat.

The thing is, however, that Eastern Catholics venerated him also - as a Martyr defending the religious and national identity and traditions of Ukraine-Rus'.

For this reason, the Jesuits established the feastday of St Josaphat on Sept. 16, two days before the feast of St Athanasius to get Eastern Catholics to stop attending the pilgrimage to Athanasius' shrine! I have a prayerbook with the Sept. 16 feast still listed in the Greek Catholic Calendar.

Met. Andrew Sheptytsky reviewed this and ordered it taken out, placing back in November where it belonged. Ilarion Ohienko has written this up in at least three of his published works.

Believe it or not . . .

Alex

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175097 08/08/02 06:16 PM
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Yuck. There is so much bad history between Orthodox and Catholics in Eastern Europe, it is like poison. Very unfortunate.

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175098 08/08/02 06:46 PM
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Regarding Peter the Aleut:

When I first heard of Peter the Aleut, I accepted the story I heard of this Aleut being disemboweled by Spanish missionaries in California (I guess I was predisposed to think a recent canonization/glorification was based on facts and that a story such as this would not be fabricated).

I was reading the hagiographical story of Peter the Aleut on the internet and noticed that he had been disemboweled by "Jesuits" and realized that at that time there were no Jesuits in California but Franciscans. I also got a sense of "unreality" as each finger is being cut off one by one....

I mentioned this on an internet mailing list and an Orthodox bishop (OCA) wrote me suggesting that Peter the Aleut probably never existed.

I began then to research the facts about Peter the Aleut and discovered that there simply were no verifiable facts to find... that this story is based entirely on a report passed on verbally and then in writing based solely on a testimony of another Aleut.

As I researched this, I found that the likelihood of such a fate was miniscule - and there was no possiblity at all of it being done by "Catholic missionaries" - and even the likelihood of it being done by Spanish or Mexicans utterly miniscule.

Quite frankly, reading the story I found it just doesn't have "the ring of truth" to it at all.

At any rate, I engaged in many dialogues about this story and I have saved quite a bit over the years. One of my favorite responses was from an Orthodox monk, who among other astute observations wrote

"...I have to say that the very lack of consistent and verifiable information concerning the murder of this Alaskan at the hands of Roman Catholics in California causes me to wonder whether 'Peter' ever existed, or was a mere fabrication created for purposes of ethnic/political polarization or religious polemic. ...There are no relics, no witnesses but one story, the same story told St German, and that was told in a time when communications and media were far more easily available than they were, say, in 2nd-c. Anatolia or 18th-c Hellas, although we have much more evidence for many saints who lived and died, even as martyrs, in those periods...."

I made an offer all along as I discussed and researched Peter the Aleut and I make it today as well: if anyone can come up with one verifiable piece of evidence of the existence of Peter the Aleut and his martyrdom at the hands of Catholics, I will take you out to dinner at the restaurant of your choice. On me, of course!

I don't expect everyone will like what I found out and discovered. So be it.

I think to continue using Peter the Aleut and the "story" behind his alleged martyrdom is an offense against Catholic-Orthodox relations and spreads a slander that is unnecessary. There are enough real issues already, as monk James says quite well.

PS I notice that in a recent address given by Metropolitan Theodosius, he mentioned the saints of the Americas, one by one: missing completely was the name of Peter the Aleut (maybe my internet writings got back to headquarters?).

God bless us all and have mercy on us all!

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175099 08/08/02 06:56 PM
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Gerard,

Please note that it is against Forum rules to cross post from another list without explicit permission of the original poster.

Thank you,
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Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175100 08/08/02 07:07 PM
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Considering the attiudes of the period, I don't really disbelieve the martyrdom of St Peter the Aleut. The attitude of Spanish Missionaries of the time WAS that any non-Catholic was a schismatic and a heretic and people WERE put to death for such things.
Yes, I would like to see more evidence but it is not unbelievable in itself.
There WAS a great difference between the Orthodox encounter with the various Native populations of Alaska and that of the Spanish Catholic encounter with the Natives of California, Alta and Baja.

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175101 08/08/02 07:08 PM
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Gerard Serafin Offline
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Please note that it is against Forum rules to cross post from another list without explicit permission of the original poster.

Ooops! Sorry about that. I went back and edited my post and just quoted a few sections which I hope is OK. That post goes back quite a few years now.

Sorry again.

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175102 08/08/02 07:22 PM
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Gerard Serafin Offline
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Brian wrote:

Considering the attiudes of the period, I don't really disbelieve the martyrdom of St Peter the Aleut. The attitude of Spanish Missionaries of the time WAS that any non-Catholic was a schismatic and a heretic and people WERE put to death for such things.

Shorly after the alleged disembowelment of Peter the Aleut, Bishop (Saint) Innocent of Alaska visited California and wrote his journal entries. Much praise for the "padres" and their hospitality. He stayed with them on his journey. He went to their churches to see how they conducted services and even sold them an organ!

This journey took place in 1835.

Bishop Innocent, traveling in the land where the alleged martyrdom of Peter the Aleut took place says not a word about him but rather stays with, and has high praise for, those who are alleged to have murdered him.

Now that doesn't really "fit" does it if the story of Peter the Aleut is true and historical?

Yes, I would like to see more evidence but it is not unbelievable in itself.

But it would seem for a glorification/canonization there would be at least some evidence, no? (There was a lot of research done about the historicity of Saint Juan Diego recently since some questioned his very existence and verification has been offered by the Church that canonized him)

There WAS a great difference between the Orthodox encounter with the various Native populations of Alaska and that of the Spanish Catholic encounter with the Natives of California, Alta and Baja.

In my own research i found that this sometimes made comparison doesn't quite match the reality of things.

For a good "apologia" of the California Missions, and especially the founder, Blessed Father Junipero Serra, read Orthodox priest, Father John Patrick Reardon's article, in a recent issue of Touchstone, "Saving California." (I hope to scan it soon but scanner is still in the shop).

In my research on Peter the Aleut I learned quite a bit and hope to keep learning more as well.

Re: St. Peter the Aleut #175103 08/08/02 07:49 PM
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Gerard,

You have raised some very interesting points.

Can you share which OCA bishop provided you with the information that St. Peter the Aleut didnít exist? Unless your bishop friend is willing to be quoted publicly his testimony is worthless.

Can you also tell us if the OCA has done any research on the existence of this saint and whether it has made any official rulings? I wonder what reason they provided you when you inquired if Metropolitan Theodosius had really omitted him on purpose of if is was just a slight of tongue?

I suggest that we respect any research done by the OCA on this issue until other research proves otherwise.

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