St. Innocent of Alaska (1797-1879)

Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
St. Innocent began his ecclesiastical career as a married priest in Siberia. In 1824 he and his family were sent to the Aleutian Islands, where he worked as a missionary among the native peoples. He baptized thousands of Alaskan natives, created alphabets for their languages, and built churches and schools. When his wife died in 1840, he became a monk and was consecrated the first bishop of eastern Siberia, the Aleutian Islands, and Alaska. He made several trips through his enormous diocese, often traveling by dog sled or kayak. In 1868 the tsar recalled him to central Russia and appointed him metropolitan archbishop of Moscow. In Moscow, as in Siberia and Alaska, he proved himself a loving and dedicated pastor. In his last years he slowly lost his sight.

In this icon he wears the vestments of a metropolitan archbishop as he stands on the shores of Siberia, looking across at America.

His feast day is March 31.


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