St. Innocent of Alaska – the Apostle of Siberia and Alaska (†1879)
St. Innocent of Alaska was born in 1797 in the village of Anginskoye, Irkutsk Province into family of a Church minister. He was baptized with the name of John. In young age the boy became an orphan, and his uncle took the responsibility on him. Also he taught to John to read and write.
Being 9 years old the boy was accepted to the local seminary. In 1817 John married and became ordained deacon. After the graduation fr. John became teacher at parochial school. In 1821 he was ordained to priesthood.
In 1824, according to blessing of local bishop, fr. John was sent for the missionary to America, and was there for 15 years together with his family. All that time the minister preached the word of God to inhabitants of Kamchatka, Aleut Islands, Northern America, and turned thousands of people to Christianity. Father John built a few churches, opened there parochial schools and was a teacher for children. For residential people fr. John created the alphabet of Aleutian. In 1834 the missionary was sent to Sitka Island, where he enlightened Tlingit. In 1838 fr. John visited St. Petersburg because of questions of further development of illumination on Aleut Islands, establishment of Kamchatka Diocese and print approval of his translations of Scripture on foreign languages.
After the death of fr. John’s wife in 1840, he was tonsure to a monk with the name if Innocent. At the end of same year father John was ordained to episcopal rank and assigned to Kamchatka Diocese. At the same time the missionary published his well known work “The Notes about the Islands of Unalaska group”, made up on his personal sixteen years observations on Alaska. Between 1840 and 1850 Bishop Innocent traveled all over his Diocese, which contained a large territory from Yakutia to Alaska and Aleut Islands. St. Innocent participated in the construction of the Cathedral and palace of a bishop in Blagoveshchensk, where since 1858 was a new Patriarchal center. In 1859 for the first time the Word of God was heard on Yakutia land, and Divine Liturgy was celebrated on a local language. In 1861 and 1862 St. Innocent for a two times had a meeting with St. Nicholas of Japan.
In 1868 Archbishop Innocent was sent to Diocese of Moscow and elevated to Metropolitan.
St. Innocent rested in God in 1879 and was buried at St. Trinity Lavra.
He was canonized by several Local Churches at the same time: in 1977 – by Russian and American, and in 1994 – by Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
The Day of Remembrance of the Apostle of Siberia and America is on 31 March, 23 September, and on the feasts of Saint Hierarchs of Moscow, Radonezh, St. Petersburg and Siberia.