Saturday, June 16, 2012
St. Peter the Aleut Martyr
Saint Peter the Aleut is mentioned in the Life of St Herman of Alaska (December 13). Simeon Yanovsky (who ended his life as the schemamonk Sergius in the St Tikhon of Kaluga Monastery), has left the following account:
"On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts, and how the Jesuits (actually Franciscans) were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But the Aleuts would not agree under any circumstances, saying, 'We are Christians.' The Jesuits argued, 'That's not true, you are heretics and schismatics. If you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you to death.' Then the Aleuts were placed in prisons two to a cell. That evening, the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. Again they tried to persuade two Aleuts in the cell to accept the Catholic Faith. 'We are Christians,' the Aleuts replied, 'and we will not change our Faith.' Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was a witness. They cut off one of the joints of his feet, and then the other joint. Then they cut the first joint on the fingers of his hands, and then the other joint. Then they cut off his feet, and his hands. The blood flowed, but the martyr endured all and firmly repeated one thing: "I am a Christian.' He died in such suffering, due to a loss of blood. The Jesuit also promised to torture his comrade to death the next day.
But that night an order was received from Monterey stating that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were sent to Monterey with the exception of the dead Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who had escaped torture, and who was the friend of the martyred Aleut. I reported this incident to the authorities in St Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, 'What was the name of the martyred Aleut?' I answered, 'Peter. I do not remember his family name.' The Elder stood reverently before an icon, made the Sign of the Cross and said, "Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for usl"
We know very little about St Peter, except that he was from Kodiak, and was arrested and put to death by the Spaniards in California because he refused to convert to Catholicism. The circumstances of his martyrdom recall the torture of St James the Persian (November 27).
Both in his sufferings and in his steadfast confession of the Faith, St Peter is the equal of the martyrs of old, and also of the New Martyrs who have shone forth in more recent times. Now he rejoices with them in the heavenly Kingdom, glorifying God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages.
Troparion (Fourth Tone):
Today Alaska rejoices and America celebrates, For the new world has been sanctified by martyrdom. Kodiak echoes with songs of thanksgiving, Iliamna and Kenai observe the festival of faith. The Apostle and martyr Juvenaly is glorified, And Peter the Aleut is exalted by his voluntary sacrifice, In their devotion and love for the Lord, They willingly endured persecution and death for the Truth, Now in the Kingdom of Heaven they intercede for our souls!
Kontakion (Fourth Tone):
Today Valaam joins Alaska In celebrating this joyous feast, As her spiritual son Juvenaly Embraces the new martyr Peter with love. Together they suffered for the Lord in America And united the old world with the new by their voluntary sacrifice. Now forever they stand before the King of glory and intercede for our souls.
Troparion (First Tone):
O Peter, upon the rock of thy faith hath Christ built His Church, and in the streams of thy blood hath He hallowed our land. In thee thy people hath been sanctified, O Aleut; from the farthest islands of the west hath He raised thee, a light unto all. Glory to Him that hath glorified thee. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
+Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!
The Historical Background of the Martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut
by Marina D. Ilyin
The holy martyr Peter Tchounagnak was an Aleut Indian converted to Orthodoxy in the late 18th or early 19th century by Russian Orthodox missionaries. He departed this life in San Francisco, California on Sept. 8, 1815, martyred for refusing to become Roman Catholic at the hands of Padre Abella at Dolores Mission. Little or no public interest was accorded him until quite recently. How is it that he has attracted the public's attention, and why so late? When the Russian Orthodox Church began to compile information on the first missionaries sent to Alaska, and particularly when considering the canonization of St. Herman of Alaska, an account by one of Peter's fellow prisoners was found among the notes of St. Herman's devoted spiritual son, Simon Yanovsky (who was later to become Schema-monk Sergei), which relates the Aleut martyr's death.1 Yanovsky, in turn, told Father Herman in 1819, at St. Paul's Harbor on Kodiak Island, later relating their conversation in writing as follows:2
Once I told him how the Spaniards in California had taken fourteen of our Aleuts captive, and how the Jesuits had tortured one Aleut to death, trying to force them all to accept the Catholic faith, to which the Aleuts did by no means consent, answering: "We are Christians, we have been baptized," showing them the crosses on their necks.
But the Jesuits retorted: "No, you are heretics and schismatics, and if you do not agree to accept the Catholic faith, we will torture you to death." And they left them in the prison until evening, two to a cell, to think it over.
In the evening they came with lanterns and lighted candles and began again trying to persuade them to accept the Catholic faith. But the Aleuts, permeated with Divine Grace, firmly and decisively answered that they were Christians and would not change their faith. Then these fanatics began to torture them. At first one, with the other as witness. At first they cut off one joint of his toes, one toe at a time, then the next joint; he endured everything and kept on saying: "I am a Christian, and will not change my faith." Then they cut off one joint from each of his fingers, then the next joint; then they chopped off his hands, then his feet – the blood flowed. But the martyr endured to the end and repeated unchangingly this one phrase. He died from loss of blood.
The next day they wanted to torture others, but the same night an order came from Monterey that all captive Russian Aleuts be sent at once under guard to Monterey; and so on the next day all, except the deceased, were sent off. This was told to me by an Aleut who was an eyewitness, a comrade of the martyred one; he later escaped captivity by fleeing. Upon hearing this report I reported it to the Central Administration in St. Petersburg.
When I finished relating this to Fr. Herman, he asked me, "And what was the name of the martyred Aleut?" I answered, "Peter, but I don't remember his last name." Then he got up and stood before the icons, piously crossed himself and pronounced these words: "Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!"
The only other information given about Peter was Yanovsky's introduction:3
The Russian-American Company founded Fort Ross, not far from San Francisco, in 1812. There climate and soil favored agriculture, stock raising, a vegetable garden and the like; all this was to be of use to the Company. This required manual labor. Some Russians and Aleuts, coming from the northern regions to work, were settled there. But the new colony of Russians, being situated at the border of California, which then belonged to Spain, aroused suspicion in the Spaniards concerning the aims of the Russian-American Company. Fearing that the Russians meant to take possession of the town of San Francisco, the Spanish government began to demand that they abandon Fort Ross, and it began to cause various unpleasant incidents. Finally in 1815 the Spanish arrested some twenty or thirty Russian Orthodox Aleuts. Some of those arrested were held in San Francisco, while others were deported to other places. They were forced to labor and were badly treated. It is known how fourteen Russian Orthodox Aleuts ended up in prison in San Francisco and for some reason fell into the hands of the Jesuits.
Despite its brevity and sketchiness, both as proof of Father Herman's merits as a missionary and to inform Orthodox Christians about the first Orthodox martyr on American soil, this account was translated from the Russian and reprinted in Vol. III No. 3 (issue #14, June-July 1967) of The Orthodox Word. Thereafter, Peter's fame and veneration grew so rapidly that when his cultus spread beyond the boundary of private prayer into public worship, he was added to the list of candidates awaiting solemn glorification.4 As a result, and following St. Herman of Alaska's canonization in 1970, as people continued to inquire about the history of Peter's life, I was asked by my Church to see what information could still be unearthed concerning him and to answer the puzzling questions surrounding the circumstances of his death. How did Peter get from Alaska to California and what was he doing prior to the time he was captured? Since Peter's last name was not known at the time, the place and time of his birth or baptism would be helpful in supplying clues to his life in Alaska. I had to concentrate on tracking down the name of the ship on which he sailed and why he was on it. These are my findings:
The fur trade in Alaska was initiated by Russian promyshlenniki5 who travelled eastward from Siberia in search of fur-bearing animals. As the news spread of unchartered lands rich in furs, and competition grew stiffer, rivals consolidated in 1799 to form the Russian-American Company. By so doing, the trappers hoped to maximize their pelt profits, as well as solve the chronic problem of a reliable food supply. While trade was flourishing, the problem was largely ignored; but when it came to a standstill, belts were tightened until ships could bring needed supplies from Russia. Unfortunately, because the vessels were often delayed overseas, or if shipwrecked, the Russians had to buy what little visiting foreigners could spare. If foodstuffs could not be had, a ship or two was purchased at great cost to enable them to attempt a trading expedition to Spanish California.
This is precisely what occurred in 1806, when Rezanov sailed to San Francisco. He saved the Alaskan colonies from famine which was at that time afflicting them, but the supplies he obtained were not sufficient. Since the establishment of permanent trade relations was contrary to Spanish law, an alternate, long-term solution was needed. Soon, the Russian-American Company having faced the fact that pelt profits were directly proportionate to well-fed employees and that satiety depended upon adequate agricultural crops, new settlements for farming founded in California, at Bodega Bay and Fort Ross.
Soon after, the fur trade rapidly gained the heights it had achieved in its infancy, but this advance was short-lived. By 1813, Alaska's prosperity just as rapidly changed for the worse, because fewer pelts were available and because of problems with marketing, unemployment, and equipment. Not only were the sea otters heading south towards California, but larger ships were needed to keep up with this migration. As Russians in Russia were losing interest in fur commodities and Asian ports continued to be closed to Russian merchants, stored furs could not be easily sold, nor were there enough large vessels to keep every promyshlennik hunting as before.
In the eyes of Alexander Baranov, Alaska's governor and the Company's manager, the immediate solution to these problems was again to buy foreign ships and have the Americans market the pelts for them in Asia through the establishment of a contract system. The major drawback to this plan was the danger of conflicts with Spanish authorities, rules, and regulations regarding foreigners in Spain's California territorial holdings; but despite these risks, Baranov decided to proceed with the purchase of two American ships, named the Atahulapa and the Lydia, which were renamed, respectively, the Behring and the Ilmen.
At this point, finding himself short-handed, Baranov had to hire non-Russians to command his ships, as well as additional Aleut Indians to hunt. An American named Vodsvit (Wodswith or Wadsworth) was appointed captain of the teakwood, East Indies built brig Ilmen.
He was then ordered to go to the new Fort Ross with goods and supplies, and then go on a sea otter hunt, down the coast of California. For this latter purpose an Aleut bidarka fleet was attached to the brig under command of Tarakanoff.6
Peter was one of the Indians on board, with forty-nine other Aleuts and half-breeds. Vasily Petrovitch Tarakanov also took charge of the twenty-five bidarkas, or canoes, needed for each pair of hunters.7 Doctor John Elliot d'Castro, "supercargo and pilot," was another American commissioned by the Russian-American Company. Because of his long years of previous dealings, both in trade and hunting, with the California missionaries and inhabitants, it was hoped that he would be able to act as agent, diplomat and translator should any difficulties arise.8 The other men known by name were Antopatro, son of Baranov, Boris Tarasov, and the sales clerk Nikiforov, who was in charge of trade goods.9
One can imagine the excitement and hopes of the people aboard ship as it left Sitka.
This expedition started out in December, 1813. Elliot remained at Fort Ross, trading and afterward did good service in the same capacity at San Francisco harbor. He brought their breadstuffs and other provisions, and forwarded them to Kuskoff, the agent at Ross, and then went along the coast selling his goods for cash, sending over 10,000 piastres to Kuskoff for transmittal to Sitka. All this time the party of Aleuts were hunting sea otter.10
Hunting above Cape Mendocino proved unsuccessful due to the hostility of the natives. Since no others could be found north of San Francisco in Drake's bay, or "Great Bodego" Bay, the vessel sailed down the coast to allow the Aleuts to hunt for two days in the vicinity of the Farrallone Islands. A short while later, Captain Vodsvit ordered the natives to enter San Francisco Bay illegally at night. Tarakanov tells what happened:
That Aleuts did so, and hunted all day, killing about 100 sea otter, but when we went to the beach on the south side to the camp for the night, we found soldiers stationed at all the springs who would not allow anyone to take any water. At this, the Aleuts became frightened, remained outside. It was dark and some wind was blowing, and two bidarkas were capsized, and the men, being tired with their day's work could not save themselves.11
These capsized Aleuts must have fallen into Spanish hands, for in a letter to Luis Antonia Arguello, the San Francisco Governor, dated June 9, 1814, Kuskoff petitioned for the release of the hunters held at the Presidio, explaining that "they [had] done no wrong, but had been only compelled to save themselves from the surf in the bay at the Port of San Francisco where they were captured."12
Learning a new lesson, the crew became more cautious as the Ilmen continued down the coast, to hunt around the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.13 They took 150 sea otters and some fur seals there, but trouble soon awaited them. As the brig passed cattle grazing on the hills of San Pedro, several Russian sailors were ordered to take Tarakanov and eleven Aleuts ashore to obtain fresh meat. Almost as soon as the party landed, they were surrounded by Spanish soldiers on horseback, while the frightened Russians pushed off as quickly as possible to avoid the same fate. Taken prisoner, Tarakanov and the Aleuts were bound together with ropes and forced to march, first to Santa Barbara, and then to Los Angeles.14
While imprisoned, most of the captives were compelled to labor in the fields.15 In his journal, Tarakanov states that in a year's time most of the Aleuts were sent away to another mission, probably San Francisco.
By October, 1815, before they were transferred to Monterey, Tarakanov was reunited with those of his men who were still alive. Unfortunately another year was to pass before they were released.
Early in 1815, because Taraknov was still a prisoner, Tarasov was appointed the new commander of the Aleut Indians on the Ilmen. Meanwhile the Ilmen continued on its journey stopping only for seven months to permit Tarasov and his men to hunt sea otters on the Santa Barbara Islands before heading back to Fort Ross to deliver 400 of the 955 pelts they had taken.16 The remaining pelts were either hidden or retained for trading purposes, since the commandant of San Francisco and the superintendent of the Missions unofficially maintained friendly relations with the Russians, as did the Governor Arillago.17
Unfortunately, with the untimely death of the governor in mid-1815, California's new governor, Pablo Vicente de Sola rapidly altered the laissez-faire policy of cordial diplomacy to one of open hostility. In attempts to keep the marine wealth of the coast from the Russians, Madrid issued orders to limit trade with them to agricultural and manufactured products. Sola was only too happy to comply by enforcing this and every other law on the Spanish books.18 In fact, so zealous was he in his duties that he spent an inordinate amount of time denouncing the settlement at Fort Ross as an illegal encroachment upon Spanish territory. This had the effect of making negotiations for the release of the Russian and Aleut prisoners well-nigh impossible, for Sola would agree to nothing short of a total withdrawal of the Russians from New Albion (California) as the Russians irritatingly called it.19
Completely unaware of this drastic change in the political climate, the Ilmen resumed its hunting and trading mission southward after first stopping in San Francisco in June to buy supplies. In July, the vessel operated between San Luis Obisbo and Santa Barbara, since it was a common practice to move from place to place as the furs were caught and collected.20 The following month, Boris Tarasov disembarked at San Pedro with eight kayaks. He was apprehended, brought for questioning to the Comisionado, Sergeant Guillermo Cota, and asked to explain his intentions and his presence in Spanish waters. As soon as Tarasov made known that his purpose was none other than otter-hunting, he was forbidden to trade, and ordered to depart and not return. After such successful hunting on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, however, the arrogant Tarasov was not the least perturbed by threats or warnings. So sure of himself was he that he appeared again in San Pedro on September 17th, asking to speak to Cota. This time the sergeant, on orders from the commander of Santa Barbara, made full preparations to seize the intruders. The following day, as dawn broke, Cota ambushed Tarasov and 26 Aleuts, as the men approached land in their bidarkas. There was an exchange of blows, and many Aleuts were stunned and wounded. Twenty-five of them, including Tarasov, yielded to the Spaniards' superior force and were taken to prison.21
At the trial, Tarasov stated first that he only wanted to talk to Cota concerning the return of those of his companions who were being held at Los Angeles, but he later gave other reasons for his return. According to Bancroft:22
It is amusing to read the transparent excuses the Russian prisoners always made when taken red-handed at smuggling or poaching. They were "driven by excesses of weather" or had "lost their way," and if suddenly cornered by cross-examination, they suddenly became profoundly ignorant of every language but the simplest Russian. When captured, Tarasov had some silk goods in his bidarka which he had the impudence to declare were intended for his own use! When asked if he had not been warned to quit the coast, he could not understand the question.23
The day after Tarasov and his men were captured at San Pedro, the ship put in at San Luis Obispo for water but was refused assistance. Two days later, Dr. Elliot d' Castro was ordered ashore for water just north of Santa Barbara, but was turned back by Sgt. Juan Ortega. On the 22nd, Jose de la Guerra y Noriega, Commander at Santa Barbara, sent five soldiers to that part of the coast to apprehend as many of the Russians' party as possible, but they arrived too late. After reporting that the vessel had sailed, Noriega quickly dispatched nine additional men farther up the coast to seize them and their boats if possible. At Refugio, the Ilmen rested quietly in the cove. The Spaniards bided their time, awaiting an auspicious moment to ambush the foreigners. When 22 Russians and Aleuts came ashore to kill some cattle, the Spaniards attacked. All but Elliot, four Russians, one American, and one Aleut regained the ship.24
Elliot tried unsuccessfully to bribe his way out of jail, but he and Tarasov were liberated only after a trip to Tepic, Mexico. Two or three more years were to pass before the other captives were returned home. After Elliot's capture, Captain Vodsvit sailed the Ilmen on to Bodega Bay, then to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, in 1816, and thereafter back to Sitka, before returning again to Hawaii. It is unclear how this brig was used for the next four years, but in 1820 the Ilmen under Kiril Khlebnikov sailed again from Sitka, to Monterey and back before being scrapped.25
It was not hitherto known during which raid Peter was captured. Examining Yanovsky's account and research contained in a doctoral thesis by Michael George Kovach (University of Pittsburgh), we can deduce that he was among the second group of Aleuts and Russians taken prisoner, and suffered an undeserved, cruel and bloody death about one year later, in 1815. Why did he die so tragically? Possibly the answer lies in Spanish attitudes towards foreigners classified as heretics, the general pattern of missionary work carried out among Indians by California's Spanish missionaries, and the atmosphere at Francisco de Asis Mission itself. The missionary techniques employed in Spanish California must also be explained by Spanish attitudes towards Indians of all types. They were generally viewed as pathetic, savage, primitive and barbarous people incapable of any intelligence above that of children and so were treated with paternal condescension.26 The basic tactics of the Spanish Franciscans' missionary work can be described as follows:
By gifts of trinkets, food and clothing they attracted the simple people, whose timidity they overcame by making a display of the friendliness of other Indians they had brought along for that purpose. When necessary, even a double portion of food was offered to those willing to accept the little understood but apparently harmless rite of conversion. And surely the soft-voiced kindly padre would do no harm by speaking strange words while sprinkling a few drops of water on the heads of their wondering children... In return for the favors, the gullible natives gave vent to their gratitude by joining in the construction of the settlement... Only after the rude chapel, barracks, and dwellings became enclosed within a stockade did it dawn on the trusting natives that they had built themselves a prison, walled and guarded. Once a convert, always a convert, even though the confinement was mitigated by the benevolence of their captors... In time, the poor natives discovered there was no legal escape from their new homes, for every enterprising runaway was caught and severely punished.27
Each time a mission was built, so was a presidio, or fort, to billet three to five soldiers to catch runaways and protect the padres, whose only protection, other than a cross and a breviary, was a deerskin mantle, scant protection from flying arrows.28 Unaccustomed to "civilized" life which demanded continual work, many mission Indians longed for their past of free nomadic hunting and fishing, while others simply longed for their families. After several months, many Indians grew fretful and thin, gazing constantly with sadness toward their homes which were visible in the distance.29 Those who could be trusted were permitted to return to visit their tribes for a short while once a year, but due to a high escape rate few were granted this permission. Usually the only change in their daily environment occurred when they worked at the pueblos or presidios nearby, work for which they were not paid, since the "fathers took it for the benefit of the community, so it was said, although we do not know what part of these products reached the community."30
Of the Indians that did escape, most were recaptured in short order and punished. On account of the enmities between the different tribes, fugitives were never given refuge in any other tribe but their own, and thus it was not easy for them to resist for long the armed soldiers who pursued them, knowing exactly where to find them.31
Punishments were brutally calculated to inflict smarting pain and embarrassing humiliation rather than any long-term privation or permanent injury. They consisted of working shackled, imprisonment in chains, or sitting in stocks. For grave offences or sins the condemned was tied to a cannon or post to receive twenty-five or more lashes. If the culprit pleaded for pardon, the severity of the blows might be lessened, but never the number.32 Men were punished in public as an example, while women were punished in private, so as not to excite the men to revolt. The most painful punishment of all, however, was called "a la ley de Bayone," where a musket was passed under the knees so that the feet and hands could be tied around it.33 All such punishments were inflicted by the padres, though at times they were compelled to call upon the aid of the soldiers who acted as escorts, or the three Indian magistrates, referred to as "caciques" by the people. These magistrates, or "caciques," had no choice but to fulfill the will of their superiors blindly and passively, both when it came to administering lashes and in maintaining orderly conduct among their fellow Indians in church.34 If faults were especially serious, the priest had to investigate the case, arrest the culprit, and inform the presidio commandant of the fort who handled the case. The missions had no qualms about administering these punishments because they believed that they were acting in the Indians' best interests as "wise and prudent fathers," which to their minds implied that authority possessed by all parents to educate their children by exhorting, rebuking and chastening them when necessary. Thus they justified their guardianship over the Indians, which they felt had devolved upon them because they had baptized them.
Corporal punishments are inflicted on Indians of both sexes who neglect pious exercises, and for several sins, the punishment, of which in Europe is reserved only to divine justice, are punished with chains or the stocks. In a word... from the moment a new convert is baptized, he becomes the same as if he had pronounced eternal vows. If he makes his escape for the purpose of returning to his relations in the independent villages, they cause him to be summoned to return three times; and if he refuses, they claim the authority of the governor, who sends soldiers to force him away from the midst of his family and conduct him to the missions, where he is sentenced, to receive a certain number of lashes of the whip... and this custom, against which reason so forcible objects, is mentioned because theologians have decided that baptism could not in conscience be administered to men so fickle unless the government in some measure, become responsible for their perseverance, but officiating as god-father...37
When they were not dealing with discipline problems, the padres' principal duties were to oversee the neophytes' morals, to instruct them in the basics of the Roman Catholic faith, as well as to civilize them by teaching them useful trades. Most men worked as laborers in the fields, but some were trained as mechanics, stonemasons, cattle, horse, and sheep herders, butchers, shoemakers and blacksmiths. Generally the women were trained as weavers, cooks and seamstresses. In addition to the regular cleaning they were under obligation to fulfill duties in various mission buildings.38 Strictly enforced segregation of both sexes was maintained, and girls and widows in particular were put to work under lock and key to prevent them from any sort of "mischief." Only marriage allowed a couple the freedom to live in a separate house within the mission walls or on a rancho, and to cook their own meals. All other unmarried mission inhabitants over the age of 9 or 10 ate their meals in the community kitchen. Sundays and certain prescribed holidays were the only days of rest from their appointed tasks, such rest commencing after fulfillment of the mass obligation, since no age group was exempt from church worship. The best-treated Indian boys (those either born to converts or who had been kidnapped by Spanish soldiers at an early age to be raised as houseservants) were usually the ones privileged to learn to read, sing and play musical instruments so as to keep up the interest of their newly-converted tribal peers and elders in a service that was virtually unintelligible to them.40
While this formed the general pattern of California Franciscan missionary work, Peter's death must also be understood within the context of the historical atmosphere peculiar to the Mission of Francisco de Asis at which he died in 1815, for this Mission was quite different from all others in California, because it had one of the lowest records for baptisms and one of the highest for runaways. Cruelty was part of its early heritage, bequeathed by such persons as Father Dani, Father Landeta, the useless and unbalanced Fernandez, the violently demented Antonio Horra of San Miguel, Governor Borica, and Ensign Moraga. Its reputation further suffered because epidemics took high tolls, as did venereal disease. In the face of all these problems, together with the lack of agricultural security, it is no wonder that sheer force was employed in attempts to replenish lost numbers and to hold the few it still had.41
It is by no means of their noise that they endeavor to stir the imagination of the Indians and to make men of these savages. It is, indeed, the only means of producing an effect on them. When the drums begin to beat they fall on the ground as if they were half-dead, no one dares move; all remain stretched upon the ground without making the slightest movement until the end of the service, and even then, it is necessary to tell them several times that the mass is finished. Armed soldiers are stationed at each corner of the church. After the mass, the superior delivers a sermon in Latin to his flock.42
What a contrast to the Spanish ways was the Russian philosophy of missionary work and the Russian pattern of missionary activities in Alaska! Although native peoples everywhere were regarded as mere children in need of conversion, protection and guidance, Russian missionaries never extended the idea of guardianship to any legal or civil areas which would adopt people and confine them to any specific place to live, nor did they use soldiers for protection or to bring back the lapsed. If generalizations could be made, one could say that Spanish monks subscribed ideologically to "conversion by force or sword," while Russian monks subscribed ideologically to "conversion by example." In fact the precept "save your own soul first, and thousands will be saved around you" early formed the basis for all missionary activity undertaken by the Orthodox Church. This in turn kept conversion figures low, causing many people to chastise the Russian Orthodox Church in particular for "failures" in evangelizing the non-Christian world. Yet when one reflects on the fact that Siberia, the abode of wild pagan tribes, was only first crossed in 1582, it is a real credit that by 1817, approximately 70% of all people living within Russia's borders were Orthodox Christians! Primarily this was achieved by monks in search of places suitable for ascetic endeavor, who went into forests and settled near rivers and lakes, using hollow trees, mud huts, or cabins as habitations while struggling in unceasing prayer, fasting and manual labor to save their souls. In the process, the surrounding heathens were not only gradually enlightened spiritually but also in a "civilized fashion," being transformed from nomads to settlers. When conditions were favorable, these early individual habitations grew into monasteries with settlements around them which grew into towns. Under less favorable circumstances these habitations remained small churches. The monks that left the Monastery of Valaam on Lake Ladoga in Russia to convert the Aleuts and other Indian tribes in Alaska began to establish Christianity using the time-tested Russian method of incipient monastic foundations. Some went on to teach the Aleuts trades, to establish churches and schools, and to instruct them in their native language and in Russian; and although this carefully laid groundwork did not result in the foundation of monasteries, the life of these first monastic missionaries, examples of evangelical simplicity and holiness, were seeds which yielded a bountiful harvest of those converted to faith in Christ, as Peter's life bears witness.43
The site of St. Peter's grave is not known, for the bodies of most Indians at Dolores Mission were cast into unmarked graves. Thus, we are deprived of his relics, unless an act of God reveals them.
1. Goldier, F. A. Father Herman – Alaska's Saint: A Preliminary account of the life and miracles of Blessed Father Herman (Willits, 1972), p. 5.
2. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. "A Pilgrimage to the Orthodox Holy Places of America. The Seventh Pilgrimage." The Orthodox Word (Platina, 1967), pp. 111-112.
4. Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church (Baltimore, 1964), p. 260.
5.Promyshlenniki were men who left their homes to hunt, mine or trade, etc. in order to make big profit. The term promyshlenniki was a word that went back to Old Novgorod, signifying freelance exploiters of natural resources. Cf. Chevigny, Hector. Russian America – the Great Alaskan Venture, 1741-1867 (New York, 1965), p. 10.
6. Khlebnikov, Kiril. Biography of Alexander Andreivich Baranoff. (Transcript and translation in Bancroft Library) Vol. IV, part 4, p. 135.
7. Ogdin, Adele. The California Sea Otter Trade 1784-1848(Berkley, 1941) p. 165.
8. Khlebnikov, p. 135.
9. Ogdin, pp. 165 and 61; Bancroft, H. H. History of California (San Francisco, 1890), vol. II, p. 307.
10. Khlebnikov, p. 136. Russian sources use the Julian Calendar to establish their dates. At that time the Gregorian Calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian, which explains the small discrepancy of dating used by American historians who obviously did not use the calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
11. Ogdin, p. 60; Tarakanov, "Statement." Russian America, vol. II, pt. 2, p. 5.
12. Ogdin, p. 61.
13. Tarakanov, p. 7.
14. Ogdin, pp. 61 and 62.
15. Bancroft, p. 307.
16. Ogdin, p. 61.
17. Tikhmenev, P. "Historical Review of the Russian American Company," Russian America (Bancroft Library, Univ. of California), p. 274. Bancroft, p. 307.
18. Ogdin, p. 61.
19. Tikhmenev, pp. 280-281.
20. Ibid. p. 274.
21. Ogdin, p. 61-62.
22. Bancroft, p. 307-308. Ogdin gives the same quote but proved that Bancroft had confused Tarakanov with Tarasov, p. 198.
23. (Incidentally, these excuses are not too different from the ones given by Soviet poachers who are caught fishing or whaling illegally off our coasts today. Since Russians haven't changed much, in the Soviet language of the underworld, Tarasov would have been known as a "blatnoi" or a "zhouk" - a "big operator" or "beetle," for the way he ran his hunting operation.)
24. Ogdin, p. 62.
25. Ogdin, p. 169.
26. Berger, John A. The Franciscan Missions of California (New York, 1941), p. 77.
27. Ibid., pp. 78-79.
28. Englehardt, Father Zephyrin. The Missions and Missionaries of California (San Francisco, 1912) pp. 636-637.
29. Ibid. p. 640; Choris, Louis. San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago (San Francisco, 1913), pp. 4-6.
30. Dutton, Davis. Missions of California (New York, 1972) p. 61.
31. Englehardt, p. 640.
32. Dutton, p. 55.
33. Ibid., pp. 24-25.
34. Ibid., p. 55.
35. Weber, Rev. Francis J. The Pilgrim Church in California (Los Angeles, 1973) p. 153.
36. Ibid., pp. 142-143, and 153-154.
37. Dutton, p. 52.
38. Berger, pp. 346-348.
39. Englehardt, p. 637 and Dutton p. 59-61.
40. Dutton, p. 61.
41. Berger, pp. 346-348.
42. Choris, Louis, pp. 8-9.
43. Smirnoff, Rev. Eugene, Russian Orthodox Mission. A Short Account of the Historical Development and Present Position of Russian Orthodox Missions (Willits, reprint of 1903 edition), pp. 6 and 73.