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St. Peter the Aleut

Posted By: Dmitri Rostovski

St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 01:34 PM

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
Posted By: Hieromonk Elias

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 02:09 PM

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.
Posted By: Dmitri Rostovski

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 02:14 PM

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
Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 02:34 PM

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
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 02:35 PM

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
Posted By: Daniil

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 02:42 PM

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
Posted By: Chtec

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 03:27 PM

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 .
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 05:46 PM

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
Posted By: Brendan

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 06:16 PM

Yuck. There is so much bad history between Orthodox and Catholics in Eastern Europe, it is like poison. Very unfortunate.
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 06:46 PM

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 ]
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 06:56 PM

Gerard,

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

Thank you,
Administrator
Posted By: Brian

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 07:07 PM

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.
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 07:08 PM

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 ]
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 07:22 PM

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.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 07:49 PM

Gerard,

You have raised some very interesting points.

Can you share which OCA bishop provided you with the information that St. Peter the Aleut didn’t 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.

Administrator
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 08:17 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

You have raised some very interesting points.

Can you share which OCA bishop provided you with the information that St. Peter the Aleut didn’t exist? Unless your bishop friend is willing to be quoted publicly his testimony is worthless.


I never claimed an Orthodox bishop provided information that Peter the Aleut never existed. What I said was this:

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

The Bishop, Seraphim (Sigrist), went on to say that the story might have arisen from an Aleut dying of malaria or a fever in a California prison - or something along those lines.

This triggered my desire to know more and find out just what the facts were in this case.

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 tried to search down any official Acta - to no avail. Perhaps someone else can find them and share them. I have exhausted every route I know to get anything official from the OCA.

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 just mentioned this. As I read the primatial address of Metropolitan Theodosius he spoke of those saints of American glorified in recent times during his years of service. He was elected Metropolitan in 1977, I believe. Peter the Aleut was glorified, I believe, in 1980. Thus the omission struck me as somewhat significant. He lists five others by name, all glorified while he was Metropolitan.

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

As I said, I would love to see any official documentation on the life of Peter the Aleut and if you find it I would look forward to reading it.

My own research has turned up serious questions to the veracity of the story as is commonly told and given in hagiographical materials.

But I am always willing to learn and revise my opinions and even take anyone out to dinner who can give some verifiable information!
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 08:35 PM

Quote
Gerard wrote:
I tried to search down any official Acta - to no avail. Perhaps someone else can find them and share them. I have exhausted every route I know to get anything official from the OCA.


Did you contact the OCA? Did they respond? This is surprising because in my (limited) experience in contacting the OCA they have always been most helpful and responded promptly.
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/08/02 08:55 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Did you contact the OCA? Did they respond? This is surprising because in my (limited) experience in contacting the OCA they have always been most helpful and responded promptly.

This was some years ago but as I recall I wrote the OCA from the website and was given some other contacts to pursue further (in Alaska). I did this and did not find anything official at all but some writings that gave no historical evidence at all.

Interestingly, too, there was no popular veneration of Peter the Aleut amongst the Aleuts before the glorification. And I have read somewhere (can't recall where now) that one reason for the glorification was to make him more popular among the people.

This is not the usual Orthodox approach, I believe, which more often relies on some popular veneration by the people.

I, too, have found the OCA people to be very helpful. But in this case there just were no Acta or official documents to send my way it seems. This surprised me quite a bit.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 02:33 AM

The following link to the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska contains the history of St. Peter the Aleut:

http://www.alaskanchurch.org/pages/AlaskanSaints/StPeter/portrait.htm

I found the account decently written with no condemnation of the Catholic Church but rather a condemnation of misunderstanding and ignorance.

The OCA is usually very responsive in responding to questions. I suggest that those interested in St. Peter the Aleut contact the OCA directly and wait for an appropriate answer to his or her questions. My guess is that one should assume that St. Peter the Aleut is considered a saint in the OCA unless there is an official statement by the OCA that he is not. To make an assumption that he is not based upon Metropolitan Theodosius' not mentioning him in a list of commemorations or his not being listed on the OCA website is jumping to a conclusion since the OCA website is not an exhaustive source of information about North American Saints. It is also quite possible that His Beatitude just forgot to mention him (I forget things all the time!).

I think that someone who is interested in this issue should volunteer to contact the OCA with the appropriate questions before making any assumption about the official position of the OCA.

Regarding the original question, I agree with Fr. Elias. I see no problem extending the honor of sainthood to any Orthodox saint. Even in Russia this is done. I know that the whole subject of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia is currently a major issue, but I just saw a television account of a Roman Catholic priest serving in Russia who made a pilgrimage to the site of St. Seraphim of Sarov, was doused with a bucket of water from the healing well by a "Holy Fool" in the midst of January, and was healed of his illness. The "cloud of witnesses" that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews spoke of surely includes St. Peter the Aleut as I am sure it includes the Blessed Theodore Romzha.

Admin
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 02:51 AM

Come, Holy Spirit!

My guess is that one should assume that St. Peter the Aleut is considered a saint in the OCA unless there is an official statement by the OCA that he is not. To make an assumption that he is not based upon Metropolitan Theodosius' not mentioning him in a list of commemorations or his not being listed on the OCA website is jumping to a conclusion since the OCA website is not an exhaustive source of information about North American Saints. It is also quite possible that His Beatitude just forgot to mention him (I forget things all the time!).

I never suggested that Peter the Aleut is no longer considered a saint by the OCA. I just mentioned that Metropolitan Theodosius did not mention him in his latest address in which he listed the recently glorified saints of America.

If someone wishes to believe in the story of Peter the Aleut, fine. My closest Orthodox priest friend does not. He is OCA. Neither do I. The site you referenced does not really give any verifiable historical data to check out. I had been aware of this paper for some years now and this was what was presented to me as the most official statement of the OCA.

Personally I find the story of Peter the Aleut offensive since I do not believe it is historically true and thus it sets up yet another reason for separation and ill feeling towards those who allegedly murdered this Orthodox Aleut.

But I do realize that others may feel differently and even venerate this Aleut as a saint and martyr. I know God alone knows our hearts and who belongs to him and whom he has sanctified in the Holy Spirit.

My own research has led me to my conclusions. I will always be open to new information that might change my conclusions thus far arrived at.

I will take that person out to dinner even at the restaurant of their choice if they can offer me a verifiable piece of evidence that this actually happened.

But that is enough for me in this thread now (if anyone comes up with any information, please contact me privately and if it is verifiable information we can work out the details for that dinner on me).
Posted By: Dmitri Rostovski

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 12:31 PM

Slava Jesu Kristu,

Thank you all for your comments. This discussion has helped me to put St. Peter the Aleut into contect. Whether he was killed by Catholics really isn't the point, it is that he stood-up for his Faith just as we must do in these times of trial.

May all the Saints of the Americas pray for us all.

Dmitri
Posted By: Jim

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 02:16 PM

Regarding St. Peter the Aleut and other saints as declared by various orthodox autocephalous jurisdictions, it is important to remember that the criteria for canonization are not necessarily the same as within Roman Catholicism. Further, I doubt that Rome would have considered canonizing Peter the Aleut or Czat Nicholas II for that matter, because they were not Roman Catholic- a jurisdiction call more than anything else. Within Orthodoxy, Nicholas II is regarded as a martyr by the synodal russians (ROCOR), but as a passion-bearer by the Moscow Patriarchate- 2 different levels of saintly status, not in agreement with each other even within the orthodox world, passion-bearer being a lesser level. Once canonized by a recognized jurisdiction, other Orthodox jurisdictions eventually add the saint to there calendars. They respect each other's decisions. Comments?

So, Peter the Aleut and Nicholas II are both saints of the Church, because the jurisdictions they were a part of, using their own criteria, chose to make them so. Das ist alles.
Posted By: Giovanni

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 02:36 PM

From Administrator:
I think that someone who is interested in this issue should volunteer to contact the OCA with the appropriate questions before making any assumption about the official position of the OCA.

Following up on that I have written to the OCA and here is the reply I received:

Dear Robert,
Thank you for your enquiry, which has me extremely puzzled.

YOU WRITE: It has been brought to my attention that in the 'Saints of North
America' on the OCA website St Peter the Aleut no longer appears. I have
confirmed this by accessing the OCA website.

RESPONSE: I just accessed the "Saints of North America" at
http://www.oca.org/pages/dwp/dwp.asp?dayid=924 and Peter the Aleut is there.
Don't know what you were accessing, or who brought this to your attention,
but they are clearly wrong.
Log on to the OCA web site. Click "Orthodox Christianity." When a new page
appears, click "Feasts and Saints."
When that page opens, click "Saints by Month," which leads to a search
engine specifically for the day-to-day saints.
When that page opens, key in "Aleut" in the appropriate box, click "Go," and
http://www.oca.org/pages/dwp/dwp.asp?dayid=924 shows up! Not only has his
name, appropriate troparia, but also his icon!!! So you might want to ask
the individual who brought this alleged travesty to your attention that he
or she is wrong!!!

YOU ASK: It has also been brought to my attention by a non Orthodox that
recently that Metropolitan Theodosius omitted the name of Saint Peter the
Aleut
when commemorating the Saints of North America.

RESPONSE: How would a non-Orthodox have such information when I, as the
Communications Director of the OCA, have no such information, nor is there
any indication that any of this is true even when making a casual visit to
the OCA web site??? How odd that we've dropped St. Peter the Aleut when the
new icon that the Holy Synod commissioned and presented to Metropolitan
Theodosius as a retirement gift shows Peter the Aleut right up front! I
have also found at least three other places on the OCA web site sporting
icons of the American saints, and Peter's there, right where he always was!

YOU ASK: Has St Peter the Aleut been removed from the ranks of North
American saints?

RESPONSE: Most certainly not!!!

YOU ASK: If so, why?

RESPONSE: Why do we assume that such rumors are true and then challenge our
own church, as if such ecclesiastical "urban legends" are indeed true??!!
Perhaps some one misunderstood the fact that initially, Peter the Aleut and
the Martyr Juvenal were originally glorified as "local saints" for the
diocese of Alaska, even though it is often the case -- and it IS the case
with these two saints -- that veneration of "local" saints often spreads
beyond the initial "locale" in which and for which they were glorified.
It seems to me that a few weeks ago a Byzantine wrote to me asking for
clarification on "local" as opposed to "universal" saints, and I used
precisely this example to show how veneration for local saints often
spreads, which is perfectly fine. Hope my answer to the rather adversarial
enquirer didn't lead to his twisting what I wrote on some forum, which has
happened many times before.
Regardless, I would love to know where someone got this "insider"
information when obviously the OCA "officialdom" knows nothing of it!! In
logging on to the OCA web site a few minutes ago, I found Peter the Aleut
right where he's always been -- on 24 September!!

You might also want to ask the non-Orthodox individual how he has access to
this information from Metropolitan Theodosius when the OCA's Communications
Office didn't have the information?! I don't know of too many non-Orthodox
who have such an "inside track."

Hope this helps, and you might want to share these facts with the folks on
the Byzantine forum!

In Christ,
Father John Matusiak, OCA Communications Office
-----------------------------------------------

In addition:

Private email from OCA Bishop Tikhon:

Dear Robert,
St. Peter the Aleut was never canonized by the Orthodox Church in America:
local veneration in the Dioceses of Alaska and of the West was approved by
the Holy Synod in the 1980s. Nevertheless, many icons, including that of
All Saints of North America that hangs in the Chapel of the Metropolitan,
depict St. Peter.
+Bishop Tikhon

---------

Hope this clears up your confusion Gerard.

Bobby
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 03:15 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Thanks, Bobby, for all the information.

I have no idea who might have said that Peter the Aleut was not on the OCA website. (It wasn't me).

I have no idea who spoke of Metropolitan Theodosius not "commemorating" Peter the Aleut. (What I had mentioned was that in his recent primatial address Metropolitan Theodosius, in listing the new American saints, did not mention Peter the Aleut. That's all I mentioned - but maybe someone mentioned something about not commemorating, etc.).

What is most helpful, though, is to find out that Peter was never formally glorified, it seems, by the OCA per se. I was confused by what I read on the OCA Alaska Home Page:

It was not until 1980, however, that Peter the Aleut was glorified as a saint by the Church.

On another website I had found this:

Peter the Aleut was formally glorified as a saint, as the "Martyr of San Francisco;" in 1980. His feast day is commemorated on September 24.

This website is from the Orthodox Christian Fellowship in Ann Arbor.

At any rate, I did not spread the rumors you mentioned in your letter to Father Matusiak. (And you don't say I did either, of course). I hope the one who may have spread such rumors reads the reply. Or if someone got what I said confused, that this reply may help set the record straight.

PS Here's the reference I refered to from Metropolitan Theodosius' Primatial Address in which he lists the new American saints since his primatial service began:

In recent years, God has blessed us with the glorification of five new saints of America: Father Jacob Netsvetov, the first native American priest, and a co-worker of St. Innocent Veniaminov; Father John Kochurov, missionary priest in Chicago, builder of Holy Trinity Cathedral, who was killed in 1917, the first priest-martyr in Russia after the communist revolution. Father Alexander Hotovitzky, a missionary priest in America, co-worker of bishops, editor of the Russian-American Messenger-the official newspaper of the Church-and the builder of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York, was martyred in the Gulag in 1937. Saint Alexis Toth, the great missionary, worked tirelessly to bring his people back to the Orthodox Faith of their forefathers. Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny, a missionary priest of Arabic origin who studied and taught in Russia and was brought to America and consecrated bishop by Archbishop Tikhon of America (later Patriarch of Moscow) to serve the needs of the Arabic-speaking community here.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 03:52 PM

Quote
Gerard wrote:
I never suggested that Peter the Aleut is no longer considered a saint by the OCA. I just mentioned that Metropolitan Theodosius did not mention him in his latest address in which he listed the recently glorified saints of America.


Quite clearly you suggested that the OCA might no longer consider Peter the Aleut to be a saint when you wrote:

Quote
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?).


Gerard, it is clear from your posts that it was your intention to insinuate that the OCA no longer recognized Peter the Aleut as a saint. This is called ‘flaming’ and is not acceptable. In your short time as a participant on the Forum your posts have clearly demonstrated that you are more interested in flaming than in participating in rational discussion. I will give you one more chance to change your posting style before suspending your posting privileges. If you are unwilling to participate in this Forum in a charitable manner please don’t post again.

Administrator
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 04:03 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Gerard, it is clear from your posts that it was your intention to insinuate that the OCA no longer recognized Peter the Aleut as a saint. This is called ‘flaming’ and is not acceptable.

The thought never even crossed my mind that the OCA no longer considered Peter the Aleut a saint. I simply wondered out loud why Metropolitan Theodosius didn't mention him in his listing (and my reply may have come if the OCA per se did not glorify him but only the local Alaskan Church).

Why would I think, though, that the OCA didn't consider him a saint? I realize, for example, there are parishes named after him. No, you misrepresent me here.

Regarding "flaming" - I can assure you I am interested in discussion and dialog and the truth of things.

Some may not always agree with me (and I do not chisel my words since I hope I have a basic reverence and respect for other persons, and I realize my expressions are not always perfect).

I have thoroughly enjoyed this Forum so far. If you think my style inappropriate I will move on. In the meantime, I will try my best to be a faithful and loving Catholic Christian, who shares as best as I am able the truth as I have come to understand it - and I am always open to learning more and revising opinions.

I invoke the Holy Spirit before every post. May He bless my efforts.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 04:24 PM

Gerard,

When you stated that maybe the Metropolitan did not mention St. Peter the Aleut because he may have seen your writings it was clear that you were insinuating that the OCA no longer recognized Peter the Aleut as a saint. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from your words and your claims of denial only misrepresent yourself. In your short time on the Forum you have used this tactic in several threads and it is unacceptably uncharitable.

This is not a matter just of your style but a matter of your self-righteous and judgmental flaming to entice others to disagree with you so that you can claim that you are innocent and charitable when clearly you are not.

I wish you well but ask that you no longer post in this Forum.

Thank you for respecting my decision.

Administrator
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 04:38 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

I will unsubscribe as soon as I am able.

It was, I am sure, just a matter of time. I do not do well walking on eggshells.

For those who may have enjoyed a post or two of mine (thanks for the supportive and welcoming letters) you can find out what's up with me by visiting my website, blog, or journal:

A Catholic Page for Lovers:
http://praiseofglory.com
A Catholic Blog for Lovers:
http://blogforlovers.blogspot.com
LiveJournal Reflections:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/gerardserafin

Again, to those with whom I engaged in real dialog, thank you. To those who said kind and gracious words, thank you. To those who did not appreciate me or my approaches, please forgive any offense. I apologize for any violation of the norms of good human and Christian relationships.

I will miss this Forum but will do quite well, I am sure, without it as well. I think I fulfilled my purposes here quickly. Time to move on....

God bless us all!

Kyrie Eleison!
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 04:55 PM

Gerard,

It is not a matter of walking on eggshells but rather one of being charitable in all things.

Thank you for respecting the rules of this Forum and be assured of my prayers for your physical healing and spiritual well being.

Administrator
Posted By: Mexican

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/09/02 07:23 PM

To me, the events related to the martyrdom of St Peter are a very painful thing because it involves a lot of feelings (the enormous cruelty of the Spanish perdiod, the Russian presence, and the war of 1847).

The problem is that the true story of St Peter is usually taken out of its religious context and it's acompanied by an anti-Spanish/anti-Catholic feeling which is alien to the spirit of the Orthodox Church and corresponds to a "protestantized" view of our history, shared by the predominant angle-saxon element of the modern American Orthodoxy.

This historical views tends to satanize everything about the Spanish missions stating that the civilization didn't exist before 1845, and overenphasizes the "progressive" effects of the angle-american presence, eliminating important historical truths.

Before the pioneers arrived, the soul of the Californian people was definately Hispanic, indian and also Russian.
The Russian presence in Northern California had been very extense since the 1700's. Although the Spanish Crown was against the influnence of other Europeans in its territories, the Russian missions were tolerated and their colonies used to trade leather with the Franciscans.
I believe that St Peter the Aleut was a victim of the ignorance of the Spanish monks. I would put the Spaniards as the best example of good catholics. They were full of fanatism, hetherodoxy and desires of domination. The probable thing is that they thought that St Peter was just "a pagan" who refused to be baptized.

After 1820, the Mexican empire expelled the Spanish monks and the territories became vulnerable to the protestant expansion. Lucas Alaman (Minister of Foreign Affairs) encouraged the Russians to increase their presence in Alta California. He even tried to sale the territories over the 42° line to the Russians, but the constant changes in the Government destroyed the negociations. In 1842 the Russian missionaries decided to leave and sold their lands to Alan Sutter (the guy who discovered a gold mine... bad luck).
Posted By: Dmitri Rostovski

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/14/02 01:23 PM

Slava Jesu Kristu,

So really, after all is taken into account, St. Peter the Aleut truely does represent the persecutions of the natives peoples and the spirit of that time. Regardless of the validity of the true story, I think Catholics should have no problem venerated him as a model of strength of the Faith. At least, that is how I am looking at it. I hope my Orthodox brothers don't mind...

Mir s Toboy,
Dmitri
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/14/02 02:05 PM

Dear Friends,

Gerard Serafin questioned the existence of St Peter the Aleut on the basis of this reasoning: 1) the idea of an Orthodox Christian being martyred by Catholics is hurtful to the process of church unity; 2) it also casts a slur on the Catholic Church itself, therefore, 3) it can't really be true and Peter may have been a figment of an anti-Catholic Orthodox group's overactive imagination.

If I've misrepresented his basic argument in any way, I apologise, but it's an argument I've come across before.

The point is that there are other saints in the calendar who were likewise done in by Catholics and vice-versa.

The argument that this cult hurts the cause of Church unity is not "resolved" by calling it into question with the view to pretending it isn't valid or the person didn't exist etc.

Other Orthodox saints martyred by Catholics include St Athanasius of Brest, St Isiodore and the 72 Martyrs of Dorpats, the 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos and other martyrs for Orthodoxy.

There is a whole group of Orthodox saints who were known for their critical statements against Catholicism including St Theophan the Recluse, St Paissy Velichkovsky, St Mark of Ephesus and many others.

Many Catholic saints also had critical things to say about the "Orthodox schismatics."

To remove from the calendars of both Churches those many saints that had things to say about church politics and controversies of their day would truly impoverish everyone.

Rather than pretend these controversies and strong feelings didn't exist or that they somehow downplay a given Saint's claim to holiness and veneration, we should view them in their proper historical contexts that change over time.

A future united Orthodox-Catholic Church will gather all the local saints together into one fold.

This happened several times before, such as following the Arian heresy.

As we've discussed way back when, many Arian saints are now in the Orthodox and Catholic calendars after the demise of that movement.

Sts. Sabbas and Nicetas the Goth are two popular saints of our Church, and yet they were Arians, the latter consecrated a priest by the Arian bishop Ulfilas himself. And yet St Basil the Great wrote a panegyric in his honour, his martyrdom for Christ bearing more weight than any defects of his orthodoxy.

Miaphysite saints of the Oriental Orthodox Church of Georgia are now in the universal Orthodox Calendar following that Church's union with Eastern Orthodoxy.

And so, St David of Garesja, who was called "that putrefaction from Georgia" by Greek theologians, is now a saint in the Orthodox Calendar.

Let us join with St Herman of Alaska, when he first heard about the martyrdom of an Aleutian Indian, and say:

St Peter the Aleut, pray unto God for us!

Alex
Posted By: Fr. Thomas

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/20/02 04:12 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Gerard Serafin:
[(snip)

The Bishop, Seraphim (Sigrist), went on to say that the story might have arisen from an Aleut dying of malaria or a fever in a California prison - or something along those lines.

[/QB]


As a priest of the OCA, I would like to correct Gerard on two of his "facts": Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) is *not* a bishop of the OCA. He is a retired bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate. Therefore, he does not speak on such matters for the OCA, only himself.

Second, in a previous post, Gerard quotes an unamed monk who doubts the veracity of the account of St. Peter the Aleut. My educated guess is that the monk to whom you refer is a prolific presence on the internet. I will not name him because this would not be proper (and I certainly may be wrong, but I doubt it!). I will tell you that, if this is the same monk, he does not live in a monastery, and he also does not consider our father among the Saints, St. John of Kronstadt, to be a saint either. So everyone is entitled to their opinion, but once again, he does *not* speak for the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA. Only the Holy Synod speaks for the Holy Synod.

It is true that his relics have not been positively located, but the story of his sacrifice was common among the Aleuts and among the locals in California and Alaska. It was on these accounts, and the stories of his intercessions, that he was canonized.

I can tell you that St. Peter the Aleut, young martyr, is indeed unashamedly venerated in all OCA churches, and I have never received official correspondence otherwise. His feastday is September 24th. His account is found with the Martyr Juvenaly.

I will openly admit that "both sides" have committed atrocities in the name of "truth," however, I believe that this thread is beneath the dignity of God-fearing Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

Martyr Peter the Aleut, pray for us!

Priest Thomas Soroka
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (OCA)
McKees Rocks, PA
http://www.stnicholas-oca.org
Posted By: Administrator

Re: St. Peter the Aleut - 08/20/02 04:17 PM

I thank Fr. Thomas for providing the last word on this thread.

St. Peter the Aleut, pray for us!
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