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Friday, October 14, 2005

Evidence of Warm Faith in the Alaskan Winter

"On January 23 of 1860, an extraordinary event happened. Before Sunday, I was performing the vigil service during which I read an akathist in honor of the Mother of God. After the service ended I put out all the candles, which I always do myself. After this I, along with the songleader, left the church. As soon as we reached the door of my house, the songleader by chance turned his head back and saw light inside the church. Returning to the church, the reader noticed that right in front of the icon depicting the Mother of God a candle was again aflame. The songleader was scared. With great fear he approached the candle and put out the flame. Then he came back and told me what he had seen. I was so confused I could not find any explanation except telling him that probably somebody might have prayed zealously and that the Mother of God shows us that the pious prayer, as the undying candle, is aflame before Our Lord God."

--Hegumen Nikolai Militov, first clergy missionary to the Kenai Peninsula, quoted from "Through Orthodox Eyes: Russian Missionary Narratives of Travels to the Dena'ina and Ahtna, 1850s-1930s," translated by Andrei Znamenski.

Father Nikolai is one of the few Russian Orthodox missionaries who served in Alaska to his last breath, leaving his bones amongst the Natives. He is buried on the Kenai Peninsula, where he served. He was a man full of Christian charity and love and as a missionary, he was lenient. He did not insist on his own way, but was instead an example of Orthodox piety, rather than an enforcer. --EJ


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