The First Russian Orthodox Chapel in North America…..

IMG_0097 …..south of Alaska, is at Fort Ross, just north of Jenner, California. It was originally built in the mid-1820s as part of the southern-most trading outpost for the Russian Empire in North America, who were there to trade with locals and natives.

Significant numbers of otters and other marine mammals were depleted in this time due to trade and the desirability of pelts, oil, and other materials.

The Fort had no resident priest, although at various times, including around 1836, a visiting Russian Orthodox priest would travel from Alaska so he could conduct marriages, baptisms, and say mass.

One such priest — Father Ioann Veniaminov — kept a journal describing his time at Ft. Ross, and he later became the Russian Orthodox bishop in Alaska, and canonized in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977.

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In 1906, a devastating earthquake struck the California coast and decimated the city of San Francisco. The original chapel was also destroyed in the earthquake, but it was rebuilt between 1916 and 1918.

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The construction is entirely of wood, and very simple, with a tall cylindrical belfry. There is a small portable wooden altar upon a raised platform and with simple altar rails. Three icons decorate the sanctuary.

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One thought on “The First Russian Orthodox Chapel in North America…..

  1. Pingback: Summer + Camping = Outdoor Mass | Quartermaster of the Barque

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