Saint Innocent of Alaska
“St. Innocent was born John Papov Aug.27, 1797 in Aginsk, a small village near Irkutsk, Siberia. At age 6, he was already a reader. At age 9 he entered Irkutsk seminary and remained there for 11 years. While he was young, he studied history and sciences. Additionally he learned carpentry, furniture making, blacksmithing, and construction of musical instruments. He got married and was ordained to the priesthood in 1821.”
“After landing in Unalaska, he met the natives. He quickly learned the local dialect of the Aleut. While he was there, he developed an alphabet, translated the Gospel of St. Matthew, and parts of the Divine Liturgy. He also compiled a dictionary for the natives. In addition, he wrote several books including Instructions for Missionaries Guidebook and A Guide to the Heavenly Kingdom. St. Innocent taught the natives carpentry and furniture making. They used these skills to make homes, chapels, and the Cathedral of the Ascension.”
“His primary work was converting the natives into Orthodoxy and educating them. Along with his wife Catherine, he established an orphanage and a school where kids learned trades as well as reading Aleut and Russian, writing, and arithmetic. He traveled throughout the Aleutian Islands to teach and baptize. In 1834, Father John was transferred to Sitka and received a membership in Russia’s prestigious Imperial Academy of Science.
After the death of his wife, he became a monk, taking the name of Innocent. He became bishop in 1840, Archbishop in 1850, and Metropolitan of Moscow in 1868, which was the highest rank of priesthood in the Russian Empire. Subsequent he established the Mission House and its Annunciation chapel which is the oldest structure still standing in Alaska. Furthermore, St. Michel’s cathedral was consecrated in 1848 in the presence of nearly 50 clergy of the Alaska mission. Another major accomplishment was his establishment of a seminary where native and creole, or mixed-race people, studied theology along with three native languages, medicine, and Latin. He founded the Orthodox Missionary Society in 1870. He increased the number of clergy and stressed the importance of Mission work.”
“He died March 31,1879 at the age of 82 on Holy Saturday. In 1977 he was canonized St. Innocent Enlightener of the Aleuts and Apostle to America.” [Source unknown]