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Collection: St. Raphael Gunfight

Born in Beirut in November 1860 to a family of refugees from Damascus, Saint Raphael Hawaweeny worked as a schoolteacher before being tonsured a monk and serving as assistant to the patriarch of Antioch. Later he was ordained a priest in Russia. When word reached him that the Syrian community in New York City needed a priest he went to America. In 1903 the Holy Synod of Russia elected Raphael as vicar bishop of Brooklyn.

In 1905 New York’s Syrians were divided into two main camps—Orthodox and Maronite. Each group had its own newspaper and those papers were engaged in a war of words with slanderous articles regularly appearing in both. Saint Raphael called for an end to the fighting and in doing so made himself a target. The tensions built over the next few months and the feud culminated in a confrontation on Pacific Street in Brooklyn in September of 1905. During the confrontation Raphael was chased down and arrested by a police officer who alleged that the bishop had pulled a gun on him.

This document collection includes over 70 primary source newspaper articles from the time.

For more on The Battle of Pacific Street, check out "LOST HISTORIES: The Good, the Bad, and the Strange in Early American Orthodoxy" by OSI Executive Director Matthew Namee.

The St. Raphael archive collection is available now for download.

St. Innocent of Alaska: Instructions to a Missionary

First page of the PDF file: StInnocentinstructionswithcover

St. Innocent is fondly remembered for his efforts at evangelizing Alaska, which at the time was under the Russian Empire; primarily being a trading outpost for the Russian-American Company. Orthodoxy entered into Alaska by way of priests and monks who ministered to the Russian faithful at remote outposts. It was not long until these ministers also began to seek to share the faith with the native population. The manner and approach by which Orthodox missionaries conducted their efforts is partly encapsulated in this 19th century letter by St. Innocent to a priest working within the native population of Alaska. In his instructions, St. Innocent lays out how one is to to expound the faith to those unfamiliar with care and delicacy that has come to typify the best of Orthodox evangelization.

The St. Innocent letter is available now for download.