With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of All Russia, the year 2017 is marked by the celebration of the 220th anniversary of the birth of Saint Innokentiy (Veniaminov), Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna, apostle of Siberia and America, an honorary member of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and Moscow Imperial University, chosen for his work in linguistics, ethnography and geography, a craftsman who built temples with his own hands, a man of heroic endurance.
For his love of God and of the Church and of people, the Lord raised him to intellectual heights and to the highest position in the Russian Church at that time.
Born in a village in the Irkutsk Oblast in the year 1797, he spent his whole life in the eastern parts of the Russian Empire: Eastern Siberia, Russian America (Alaska), and the Russian Far East including Yakutia, the Amur and Kamchatka; until he became Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna in 1867.
Saint Innocent was a great missionary who led to the Lord thousands of people and thanks to his incessant work and prayer the independent Yakut diocese was set up. He was a talented translator of Orthodox literature into the languages of the ethnic minorities to whom he preached the Gospel; a man of devout prayer, he blessed Archpriest Dimitry Khitrov, the future bishop Dionysius, to compile the alphabet and grammar of the Yakut language. He himself composed the alphabet and the grammar of the Aleut language however his works were not limited to the Aleut language, he also studied Tlingit and Alutik.
The scale of his personality and the scope of his works in the regions of Siberia, the Far East and North America, puts him on a par with the outstanding educators of the Russian state. His life is worthy of thoughtful and careful study.
In 1997, as tribute to his immortal heritage, there were a series of international events dedicated to the 200th anniversary of his birth, initiated by the laity and the leadership of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and with the blessing of Bishop Herman. The 210th anniversary of the birth of St. Innocent was celebrated during the Days of Yakutia festival in Moscow in 2007, where a liturgy in the Yakut language was held by Patriarch Alexy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) acted as a sponsor of the above-mentioned events.
Twenty years ago, in 1997, a blessing to celebrate the 200th anniversary in England was given to us by the ever-memorable Vladyka Anthony of Sourozh. There was a lecture by Shishigin Egor Spiridonovich who travelled from Yakutia, along with Claudia Ivanovna Fedorova, as an interpreter and students from the city of Mirny. Today, the initiative to organize the celebration of the 220th anniversary of St. Innocent and the 40th anniversary of his canonization comes from his native Irkutsk. A national project “The Way of Saint Innocentiy” is underway in 10 regions of the Russian Federation: the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Irkutsk, Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin regions, Khabarovsk, Kamchatka and Zabaikalsk Territories, Chukotsky Autonomous District and Moscow. This reflects the relevance of the project and the status of Metropolitan Innokentiy (Veniaminov) on an international level.
Saint Innokentiy had a special approach to the indigenous peoples of different nations in the vast regions where he served in the nineteenth century, seeking to study and include native languages in the liturgical life of these peoples, similar to St. Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs in the 9th century. In this respect, St. Innocent followed the continuous apostolic tradition in the Orthodox Church.
Here in the UK we also make our contribution to the celebration of the 220th anniversary of the birth of the saint. Events began in the Diocese of Sourozh with a cycle of lectures, about the life and activities of the saint in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God at 67 Ennismore Gardens, London.
In May 2016, during the annual diocesan conference, a presentation of Irina Dmitrieva’s book “To the north through the ages, part 1” took place, which was devoted to the missionary activity of Saint Innocent (Veniaminov).
On May 20 this year, a concert for the children of the Church Parish School took place, organized by the efforts of a small creative group of teachers who prepared an excellent script for the celebration of the 220th anniversary as part of the Days of Slavonic Literature and Culture timed to the memory of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Melody.
The UK jubilee events will end in October 2017, when there will be a presentation of the life of Saint Innocent, a Divine Liturgy and a concert at the London Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
This website has been set up to support the programme of anniversary events.