Spruce Island, Alaska, USA: A pilgrimage to the Athos of America


Spruce Island, Alaska, USA

A pilgrimage to the Athos of America


Saint Jacob Netsvetov of Alaska (+1865) – The evangelizer of the Yup’ik Eskimo & Athabascan peoples of Alaska



Saint Jacob Netsvetov of Alaska (+1865)

The evangelizer of the Yup’ik Eskimo & Athabascan peoples of Alaska

July 26

Saint Jacob Netsvetov, Enlightener of Alaska, was a native of the Aleutian Islands who became a priest of the Orthodox Church and continued the missionary work of St. Innocent among his and other Alaskan people. His feast day is celebrated on the day of his repose, July 26.

Father Jacob was born in 1802 on Atka Island, part of the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska. His father, Yegor Vasil’evich Netsvetov, was Russian from Tobolsk, Russia, and his mother, Maria Alekscevna, was an Aleut from Atka Island. Jacob was the eldest of four children who survived infancy. The others were Osip (Joseph), Elena, and Antony. Although not well off, Yegor and Maria did all they could to provide for their children and prepare them to live their lives. Osip and Antony were able to study at the St. Petersburg Naval Academy and then were able to become a naval officer and ship builder, respectively. Elena married a respected clerk with the Russian-American Company. Jacob chose a life with the Church and enrolled in the Irkutsk Theological Seminary.

On October 1, 1825, Jacob was tonsured a sub-deacon. He married Anna Simeonovna, a Russian woman perhaps of a Creole background as was he, and then in 1826 he graduated from the seminary with certificates in history and theology. With graduation he was ordained a deacon on October 31, 1826 and assigned to the Holy Trinity-St. Peter Church in Irkutsk. Two years later, Archbishop Michael ordained Jacob to the holy priesthood on March 4, 1828. Archbishop Michael had earlier ordained John Veniaminov (St. Innocent) to the priesthood. With his elevation to the priesthood, Father Jacob began to yearn to return to his native Alaska to preach the Word of God.

Upon departing, Archbishop Michael gave Father Jacob two antimensia, one for use in the new church that Father Jacob planned to build on Atka, and the other for use in Father Jacob’s missionary travels. After a molieben, Father Jacob and his party set off for Alaska on May 1, 1828. The travelers included Father Jacob, Anna his wife, and his father Yegor who had been tonsured reader for the new Atka Church. This journey, which was always hard, took over year to complete, which was completed on June 15, 1829.

Father Jacob’s new parish was a challenge. The Atka “parish” covered most of Continue reading “Saint Jacob Netsvetov of Alaska (+1865) – The evangelizer of the Yup’ik Eskimo & Athabascan peoples of Alaska”

Aleut (Unangan) Orthodox Language Texts ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Aleut Unangan Alaskan




Aleut (Unangan) Orthodox Language Texts

Orthodox Christian Catechism
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) & Ivan Pan’kov – manuscript 1826 (0.2 MB)

The Indication of the Pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) – published 1840, 1899 (0.6 MB)

Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) & St. Jacob (Netsvetov) – published 1840, 1896 (2.1 MB)

Pascha Gospel & Apostle Readings
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) & St. Jacob (Netsvetov) – published 1840, 1896 (0.4 MB)

Beginnings of Christian Teaching
• Part 1: Introduction – Alphabet – Prayers
• Part 2: Sacred History
• Part 3: Christian Catechism – Conclusion
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) & St. Jacob (Netsvetov) – published 1840, 1893 (1.7 MB)

Two Sermons from St. Nicholas Church in Atka
by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) & St. Jacob (Netsvetov) – manuscript 1842 (0.5 MB)

Short Religious Composition
Selection from “Grammatical Outline of the Fox Island (Eastern) Aleut language”
by Ivan Kurbatov – published 1846 by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) (0.1 MB)

Preface to the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark
Preface to the first Eastern-Aleut translation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark
Fr. Innocent Shayashnikov – manuscript 1860 (0.1 MB)

Short Instructions, Biblical Quotations, and Prayers for a Blessed Life
Original compositions and translations into the Atkan-Aleut dialect
by Fr. Laurence Salamatov – manuscript 1860 (0.2 MB)

• New Testament translations into the Atkan-Aleut dialect
Holy Gospel According to St. Mark (0.8 MB)
Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (1.4 MB)
Holy Gospel According to St. John (1.0 MB)
by Fr. Laurence Salamatov – manuscripts 1861

Abridged Catechism for the Instruction of (Atkan) Aleut Youth
by Fr. Laurence Salamatov – manuscript 1862 (0.3 MB)

The Life of Saint George, Great Martyr & Victory Bearer
by Anthony Ugoril’nikov – manuscript 1868 (0.2 MB)

An Appeal for Orthodox Christian Youth Schooling & Education
by Bishop John (Mitropolsky), translated by Fr. Innocent Shayashnikov – manuscript 1871 (0.1 MB)

Prayerbook & Abridged Catechism in Eastern-Aleut
by Fr. Innocent Shayashnikov – manuscript 1872 (0.3 MB)

Prayer Fragment found in Financial Report
Translation of the hymn “If thou didst not intercede in prayer for us”
translator unknown – manuscript 1872 (0.2 MB)

Prayer Before Holy Communion
Translation of the prayer “I believe, O Lord, and I confess”
by Fr. Paul Shayashnikov – manuscript 1886 (0.4 MB)

Antiphon 15, Tone 6. Holy Friday Matins
Translation of the hymn “Today He who hung the earth upon the waters”
translator unknown – manuscript 1890 (0.1 MB)

Aleut Primer
corrected & expanded from “Beginnings of Christian Teaching (1840)” – published 1893 (0.4 MB)

Prayers & Hymns of the Orthodox Church
Hymns of Vespers, Matins, Divine Liturgy and Pascha
by Rdr. Andrew Lodochnikov – published 1898 (0.6 MB)

Short Rule for a Pious Life
Translation of the Russian-language text “Short Rule for a Pious Life” into the Aleut language
by Fr. Innocent Shayashnikov – published 1902 (0.1 MB)

• New Testament translations into the Eastern-Aleut dialect
Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew (0.7 MB)
Holy Gospel According to St. Mark (0.5 MB)
Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (0.7 MB)
Holy Gospel According to St. John (0.6 MB)
Acts of the Holy Apostles (0.7 MB)
by Fr. Innocent Shayashnikov – manuscripts 1872, partially published 1902-1903

• Orthodox Alaska (periodical from Unalaska)
by Rdrs. Leonty Sivtsov and Simeon Samoilovich – manuscript 1904

Orthodox Temperance Society Pamphlet
by the Vicariate of Alaska, Diocese of the Aleutians and North America – published 1906 (0.7 MB)

The Pascha of Christ
by Fr. Alexander Panteleev and Rdr. Leonty Sivtsov – manuscript 1909 (0.2 MB)

Announcements from the Aleut Orthodox School in Unalaska
by the Aleut Orthodox School in Unalaska – typewritten 1910, 1911 (0.1 MB)

Collection of Sermons from the Aleutian Islands
by Fr. Alexander Panteleev and Rdr. Leonty Sivtsov – manuscripts 1909-1912 (0.3 MB)

A Pastor’s Farewell with his Flock
Farewell Address of Fr. Alexander Panteleev from the Aleutian Islands
by Fr. John Orlov, Fr. Alexander Panteleev, and Rdr. Leonty Sivtsov – published 1912 (0.2 MB)

Abridged Lenten Triodion & Pentecostarion
Hymns of Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and Ascension
translator unknown – manuscript 1938 (0.1 MB)

Abridged Festal Menaion
Hymns of Christmas, Theophany and Pascha
by Fr. Gregory Kochergin – manuscript 1940 (0.2 MB)

Supplement to the Abridged Festal Menaion, Lenten Triodion & Pentecostarion
Hymns of Christmas, Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha
translator unknown – manuscript 1967 (0.1 MB)

Orthodox Parishes in Alaska



Orthodox Parishes in Alaska

Orthodox Christian Churches in Alaska


Orthodox Christian Churches in Alaska

What is necessary for a saving Confession? – Saint Innocent of Alaska (+1879)



What is necessary for a saving Confession?

Saint Innocent of Alaska (+1879)

What is Confession? Confession is the oral avowal of one’s sins which lie heavy upon the conscience. Repentance cleanses the soul and makes it ready to receive the Holy Spirit, but confession, so to speak, only empties the soul of sins.

Let us present a simple analogy and comparison to confession. For example, suppose you had only one vessel of some kind, which you through negligence or laziness let reach a stage where little by little it accumulated all sorts of dirt so that your vessel became not only unuseable but even unbearable to look at without repugnance. But what if a king wanted to give you as a gift some sort of fragrant and precious balm, one drop of which could heal all infirmities and protect—what then? Would you refuse such a valuable gift only because you had no other clean vessel in which to put it? No! It would be very natural for you to accept such a gift and you would try to clean your vessel. How would you begin to clean your vessel? No doubt, before anything else, you would rid it of all uncleanness; you would begin by washing it with water and, perhaps would even burn it out so that it no longer retained any of its former odors. Isn’t that so?

Now let the vessel represent the soul given to you by God, which you have brought to such a state that it has been filled with all kinds of transgression and iniquities; let the sweet-smelling balm, given by the king, signify the Holy Spirit, Who heals all infirmities and afflictions, Whom the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, freely bestows upon us. To examine your vessel signifies feeling your guilt before God and recalling all sins which have stolen into your heart. To clean out the vessel typifies the confession of your sins before your spiritual father, and washing with water and burning with fire signifies a sincere and even tearful repentance and a voluntary resolve to endure all unpleasantness, needs, afflictions, misfortunes, and even calamities that befall us.

Now tell me: Is Confession profitable or needful? Certainly it is profitable and even essential; because, just as it is impossible to cleanse a vessel without ridding it of all uncleanness, so it is impossible to purge your soul of sins without confession. But tell me, is confession alone enough for the reception of the Holy Spirit? Certainly not, because in order to receive the sweet-smelling and precious balm into a defiled vessel it is not enough to just empty it, but it is necessary to wash it with water and refine it with fire. Just so, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, it is not enough just to confess or recite your sins before a spiritual father, but it is necessary together with this to purge your soul with repentance or contrition and grief of soul, and burn it out with voluntary endurance of afflictions. So then, this is what confession and repentance mean!

What does a true and correct confession consist of? When we wish to cleanse our conscience of sins in the Mystery of Repentance, 1) before everything else it is necessary to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and firmly hope that He is ready to forgive all sins, no matter of what magnitude, if only the sinner repents open-heartedly; it is necessary to believe and hope that the God of all wants and seeks our return. Of this He assures us through the prophet thus: As I live, saith the Lord, i. e., I assure and swear by My life, In desiring I do not desire, i e., I do not at all desire the death of a sinner, but entirely desire his conversion.

2) It is necessary to have a broken heart. Who is God? and who are we? God is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth; He is the awful and righteous Judge. And we? We are weak and insignificant mortals. All people, even the greatest people, are less than dust before God, and we can never imagine how disgusting to God is any sin and how any transgression offends Him. And we, insignificant and weak, we mortals endlessly benefited by our God, dare to offend Him—the All-Good One? Oh! This is so horrible! We are such debtors before God, such transgressors, that not only should we not dare to call ourselves His children, but are not even worthy of being His lowliest servants.

Therefore, picturing all this, you see what contriteness, what lamentation it is necessary to have then, when we want to purge ourselves of sins. And such a feeling must be had not only before confession and during confession, but also after confession. And even more important, do you want to offer a sacrifice to God such as will be acceptable to Him? Naturally we all gladly want this and as far as possible we offer it. But what can we offer Him really acceptable.?—a broken heart. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled, here is an offering to God more priceless than all offerings and oblations!

3) It is necessary to forgive all our enemies and offenders all the harmful and offensive things they have done to us. Forgiveness—what does it mean to forgive? To forgive means never to avenge, neither secretly nor openly; never to recall wrongs but rather to forget them and, above all, to love your enemy as a friend, a brother, as a comrade; to protect his honor and to treat him right-mindedly in all things. This is what it means to forgive. And who agrees that this is difficult? So, it is a hard matter to forgive wrongs, but he who can forgive wrongs is for this reason great—truly great, both before God and before man,—Yes, it is a hard matter to forgive your enemies; but to do nothing, it is necessary to forgive, otherwise God Himself will not forgive. Jesus Christ said: If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your trespasses. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses. On the contrary to this, though you pray to God every hour, though you have such faith that you can move mountains, even though you give away all of your belongings to the needy, and give your body to be burned,—if you do not practice forgiveness and do not wish to forgive your enemy, then all is in vain, for in such circumstances neither prayer, nor faith, nor charity, will save you, in short, nothing will save you.

But if it is needful to forgive our enemies, so likewise it is indispensable to ask also forgiveness of those people whom we have offended. Thus, if you have offended anyone by word, ask forgiveness of him, come and bow down at his feet and say, “Forgive me.” Have you offended by deed? Endeavor to expiate your guilt and offenses and recompense his damage, then be certain that all of your sins, no matter how heavy they be, will be forgiven you.

4) It is necessary to reveal your sins properly and without any concealment. Some say, “For what reason should I reveal my sins to Him Who knows all of our secrets?” Certainly God knows all of our sins, but the Church, which has the power from God to forgive and absolve sins, cannot know them, and for this reason She cannot, without confession, pronounce Her absolution.

Finally, it is necessary to set forth a firm intention to live prudently in the future. If you want to be in the kingdom of heaven, if you want God to forgive your sins—then stop sinning! Only on this condition does the Church absolve the penitent of his sins. And he who does not think at all about correcting himself confesses in vain, labors in vain, for even if the priest says, “I forgive and absolve,” the Holy Spirit does not forgive and absolve him!

From Orthodox Life, vol. 38, no. 4 (July-August, 1988), pp. 20-22.




Saint Innocent of Alaska, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of North America (+1879) – March 31



Saint Innocent of Alaska,

Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of North America (+1879)

March 31

Our father among the saints Innocent of Alaska, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of North America (1797-1879), was a Russian Orthodox priest, bishop, archbishop, and Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship, and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 1800s. He is known for his great zeal for his work as well as his great abilities as a scholar, linguist, and administrator. He was a missionary, later a bishop and archbishop in Alaska and the Russian Far East. He learned several native languages and was the author of many of the earliest scholarly works about the natives and their languages, as well as dictionaries and religious works in these languages. He also translated parts of the Bible into several native languages.


St. Innocent, né Ivan (John) Evseyevich Popov-Veniaminov, was born on August 26, 1797, into the family of a church server in the village of Anginskoye, Verkholensk District, Irkutsk province, in Russia. His father died when John was six.

In 1807, John entered the Irkutsk Theological Seminary. In 1817 he married, and on May 18, 1817 he was ordained deacon of the Church of the Annunciation in Irkutsk. He completed his studies in 1818. He was appointed a teacher in a parish school, and on May 18, 1821 he was ordained priest to serve in the Church of the Annunciation.

At the beginning of 1823, Bishop Michael of Irkutsk received instructions to send a priest to the island of Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Father John Veniaminov volunteered to go, and on May 7, 1823, he departed from Irkutsk, accompanied by his aging mother, his wife, his infant son Innocent, and his brother Stefan. After a difficult one-year journey, they arrived at Unalaska on July 29, 1824.

After John and his family built and moved into an earthen hut, he undertook the construction of Holy Ascension Church on the island and set about studying the local languages and dialects. He trained some of his parishioners in construction techniques and with them undertook the construction of a church, which was finished the following July.

Father John’s parish included the island of Unalaska and the neighboring Fox Islands and Pribilof Islands, whose inhabitants had been converted to Christianity before his arrival, but retained many of their pagan ways and Continue reading “Saint Innocent of Alaska, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of North America (+1879) – March 31”