St. Innocent of Alaska’s Gospel returned to rightful home in Alaska cathedral after decades

Sitka, Alaska, December 11, 2023

Photo: Photo: A Gospel published in the late-18th century and used by St. Innocent of Alaska and Moscow was returned to its rightful home at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska, last month.

The large, silver Gospel, printed in Russia under Emperor Paul I (1796-1801), was removed from the cathedral at some point in the last 60 years and eventually wound up in a Church museum in Pennsylvania. His Grace Bishop Alexei of Sitka traveled there in September with the express purpose of recovering the Gospel, which was facilitated by Archpriest John Perich of St. Herman’s Orthodox Church in Glenn Mills, reports the Diocese of Alaska.

And on November 19, during the annual banquet celebrating the patronal feast of St. Michael the Archangel in Sitka, His Grace unveiled the Holy Gospel and returned it to the cathedral community. His Grace read from the Gospel’s front page that it was printed in 1796, or 7,305 years from the creation of the world.

Photo: Photo: The initial inscription reads: “To the Glory of the Holy Consubstantial, Life-Creating, and Undivided Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—at the command of our Great Lord Paul I Petrovich, Autocrat and Emperor of All Russia…”

The faithful then came forward to venerate the Gospel while singing “O Lord, save Thy people.”

The Gospel was once again used in the Liturgy, as it was in the time of St. Innocent, who served in Alaska in the early-mid-1800s. Fr. Deacon Thomas Rivas relates that “although he has had back pain even handling much lighter Gospels, this Gospel of Saint Innokenty suddenly felt light in his hands when used for the little Entrance, causing him no pain whatsoever. Truly, through the prayers of Saint Innokenty, ‘His yoke is easy and his burden is light.’”

The Gospel now resides again at its former home of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka.

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