Monday, February 07, 2005



Where I’ve been
St Clair, Pennsylvania revisited
Finally had a look round the inside of St Michael’s Orthodox Church (photos) and met the people — in its Byzantinized baroque splendour it’s as great on the inside as Holy Trinity is outside and the people are friendly, every bit as charming as their village looks, low-profile but Christian. Lots of grandmotherly hospitality — ‘Eat, eat!’ A young man I talked to has adopted two children from Russia and his wife is pregnant with one of their own, and he isn’t on the Internet (take that as you will). The place is doing very well, thank you — I was told 300 families were on the rolls.



Compostela’s cathedral may have the world’s biggest thurible but St Michael’s is a contender for the Guinness world record for biggest sanctuary lamp!

Schism is objectively not good but like I said, the place is doing very well and is quite Catholic. Those who’ve known me and know about Byzantine church doings will know what I mean when I say it’s like Holy Ghost in Philadelphia (which appears hors de website at the moment) and the Holy Ghosters (yes, they’re just as nice) but without the annoying Elko-isms* and Novus Ordo-isms that dog the Byzantine Catholics.

A two-story hall was purchased on October 29, 1897, from the Holy Apostles Episcopal parish...
Which is still right next to St Michael’s, a little white wooden building on the corner.

The new church, St. Michael's the Archangel United Greek Catholic Russian Orthodox Church, was dedicated on November 21, 1897, on the patron Saint's feast day.
That’s one doozy of a name. Cover all your bases, LOL.

I’m guessing that it was Byzantine Catholic to begin with but joined the Russian dioceses in the late 1920s (of whom Archbishop Adam was a member, specifically in charge of ethnic Ruthenians). It’s now in ACROD, the 1930s split from the Ruthenian Catholics that’s under the Greeks in Constantinople. St M’s sings the unique Ruthenian chant.

During those years many families from the original church would leave to form parishes on their own in St. Clair: ... St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Galician-Russian Church in 1906...
Ukrainian Catholic. It has three-bar crosses and a silver onion dome and is only a couple of blocks behind St M’s!

The word ‘Galician’ says a lot — old Polish Galicia** is the centre of Ukrainian separatism and nationalism and since the early 1800s the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukraine has been largely contained in and synonymous with the region (and nearly unknown in the rest of the Ukraine).

*Nicholas Elko was the fourth-ever head Ruthenian bishop in the US (counting the first one, Soter Ortinsky, who had Ruthenian and Ukrainian Catholics under him) and a real piece of work. An aggressive self-latinizer, in the 1950s he ripped out beautiful icon screens (including the one at Holy Ghost, replacing it with a naff grill thingy) in Slavic churches across the East Coast and Rust Belt (while his Ukrainian opposite number was tearing down three-bar Russian crosses) — basically he anticipated the NO by a decade and a half, a kind of self-hating Eastern Christian. Even the go-along Ruthenians had enough of him and managed to get him sacked by the Vatican in 1967 (ironically around the time people in the name of the Holy See were doing the same bloody thing to RCs). He resurfaced in the States in the 1970s as an RC auxiliary bishop to do the watered-down services he always wanted. God have mercy upon him — in hell or the intermediate state he’s probably in the same circle as John Ireland (the guy who brought you the Toth schism) and Annibale Bugnini.

**Stolen by Stalin during World War II when he split up Poland with Hitler, only the Soviets, FDR’s good friends, got to keep their spoils.

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