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Nicolae al Japoniei

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Our father among the [[saints]] '''Nicholas of Japan''', [[Equal-to-the-Apostles|Equal to the Apostles]] ([[August 1]], 1836 – [[February 3]], 1912), brought Orthodoxy to Japan. He was sent to Japan as a [[missionary]] by the [[Church of Russia]]. He worked tirelessly among the Japanese people and established there the [[Church of Japan]]. His [[feast day]] is [[February 3]].

== Early life ==
[[Image:nj3.jpg|thumb|left|St. Nicholas, [[Equal-to-the-Apostles|equal to the Apostles]] and [[enlightener]] of Japan]]Nicholas was born Ivan Kasatkin in Berezovsky village, Volsk district, in the province of Smolensk. There his father, Dmitri, served as a [[deacon]]. When the child was five, his mother died. The deacon's family was big and very poor. Despite that young Ivan was sent to the Belsk [[Theology|Theological]] School and later to the Smolensk Theological [[Seminary]].

In 1857, Ivan, one of the best students, was sent to study in the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where he demonstrated remarkable talents. When Ivan was about to finish his studies, his future mission—to preach the [[Orthodox faith]] in Japan—was revealed by Divine Providence.

The Russian consul in Japan sent a request to the [[Holy Synod]] (later forwarded to the Academy), asking for a pastor "who would be useful both as a spiritual director and a scholar and whose private life would give a good idea of our clergy not only to Japanese, but also to foreigners." He filed a petition to [[Bishop]] Nectarius, the [[rector]], asking to profess him and to appoint him to the Russian Consulate in Japan.

On [[June 24]], 1860, Bishop Nectarius professed Ivan Kasatkin with the name of Nicholas in the academic church of the Twelve [[Apostles]]. On [[June 29]], the day of Apostles [[Apostle Peter|Peter]] and [[Apostle Paul|Paul]], [[monk]] Nicholas was [[ordination|ordained]] [[hierodeacon]], and on [[June 30]], when the [[Synaxis]] of the Twelve Apostles was celebrated, he became [[hieromonk]].

Remarkable were the bishop's words of blessing of the young monk's new mission: "You are supposed to live your [[asceticism|ascetic life]] outside the [[monastery]]. You will have to leave your homeland and to serve God in a country that is distant and unfaithful. Along with the cross of an ascetic you must take your staff of a pilgrim, along with [[monasticism|monastic]] exploits you must embark on an apostolic mission!"

== Early years in Japan ==
In June 1860, hieromonk Nicholas set off for his duty station in the town of Hakodate, taking along the [[icon]] of Smolensk [[Theotokos|Mother of God]]. On his way to Japan, he met the renowned bishop of the [[Church of Russia|Russian Church]], St [[Innocent of Alaska|Innocent]] (Veniaminov), [[Archbishop]] of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands (later Metropolitan of Moscow), called the Apostle of America and Siberia. In Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, he learned from the elder missionary's experience all that was necessary to continue his apostolic deeds "even to the end of the earth."

On July 2, 1861 Nicholas arrived Hakodate. At first, to preach the [[Gospel]] in Japan seemed next to impossible. According to Fr Nicholas' words, "the Japanese of that time regarded foreigners as beasts, and considered Christianity to be a vicious church, to which only notorious evildoers and magicians could belong." It took him eight years to familiarize himself with the country, its people and language, and the customs and traditions of those to whom he had to preach.

Nicholas learned Japanese culture and language eagerly. Especially after he met Archbp. Innocent (Veniaminov) in September 1861 in Hakodate, his motivation seemed to be accelerated. In Japan, the young Nicholas tried to keep his competence for Western languages and read foreign books. Innocent found him read Western book eventually, and scorned him. According to Innocent, the all efforts of Nicholas should have been toward learning Japanese language, culture and history so that he would be able to make a correct translation of the Scripture. Nicholas was impressed greatly with the words of Archbp. Innocent and meekly pursuaded.

[[Hieromonk]] Nicholas attended popular gatherings to listen to visitant storytellers and Buddhist preachers. By 1868, Fr Nicholas had already mastered spoken Japanese. His knowledge of the history of Japan was deeper than that of many Japanese. In the meantime, he also learned English, which was becoming an international language. By that time the congregation of Fr Nicholas numbered about 20 men and women.

In late 1869, hieromonk Nicholas came to St. Petersburg to report on the results of his work to the Synod. A decision was made "to set up a special Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to preach God's Word among [[paganism|pagans]]." Fr Nicholas was promoted to the rank of [[archimandrite]] and appointed head of the Mission.

Upon his return to Japan, the prospective [[bishop]] turned over his Hakodate's congregation to hieromonk [[Anatoly Tikhai|Anatole]], his new associate, and relocated the missionary centre to Tokyo.

In 1871, the persecution of Christians began in Japan, which affected many people, including [[Paul Sawabe]], the first Orthodox Japanese, who would later become a famous missionary priest.

== Building of the mission ==
It was not until 1873 that the persecution lessened a little and a free propagation of Christianity became possible. In the same year Archimandrite Nicholas started to build a church and a school for fifty people in Tokyo, followed by a theological school, which was transformed into a [[Tokyo Orthodox Seminary (Tokyo, Japan)|seminary]] in 1878.

In 1874, His Eminence Paul, Bishop of Kamchatka, arrived in Tokyo to ordain local candidates recommended by Archimandrite Nicholas. By that time, there were four schools in Tokyo: a catechist school, a seminary, a girls' school, and a clerical school; and two schools in Hakodate, one for boys and one for girls.

In late 1877, the Mission began to publish a magazine, ''The Church Herald'', on a regular basis. By 1878, there were 4115 Christians in Japan. In public worship and education of local communities, the vernacular was used. The publication of books on spirituality and [[ethics]] was initiated as well.

[[Image:nj1.jpg|thumb|right|Bishop Nicholas]]
In 1880, the Holy Synod decided to increase the staff of the Mission and to elevate the head of it, Archimandrite Nicholas, to the rank of bishop. On [[March 30]], 1880, Archimandrite Nicholas was consecrated bishop of Tokyo in the Trinity [[Cathedral]] of [[Alexander Nevsky]] [[Lavra]]. The bishop wrote later: "During the [[sacrament]] of [[Consecration of the Eucharist|consecration]], feelings seem to overwhelm the man against his will, his eyes get wet, his soul embarrassed. His inner being is transformed as soon as [[hierarch]]s place their right hands upon him. He stands up a totally different person than he was before kneeling down in front of the [[altar]]."

Since then, Bishop Nicholas continued his apostolic labour with even greater zeal. He finished in 1891 the construction of the [[Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Tokyo, Japan)]], then proceeded with the translation of liturgical books, and composed ''The Orthodox Theological Dictionary'' in Japanese. He paid much attention to numerous Orthodox communities.

The Russian-Japanese War of 1905, however, turned out to be the time of ordeals for St Nicholas and his flock. He withstood them with honour, to the great surprise of the Japanese. He found a way to help Russian prisoners of war in their difficult situation. In recognition of this unprecedented effort, he was promoted to the rank of archbishop.

In 1911, after fifty years' missionary work of St Nicholas, the [[Church of Japan]] numbered 266 communities, including 33,017 Orthodox [[laity|laymen]], one archbishop, one bishop, 35 priests, six deacons, 14 teachers of singing, and 116 catechists.

[[Image:nj2.jpg|left|St. Nicholas]]

Throughout his life, St Nicholas set an example of a true spiritual director wholly devoted to his ministry. He was a man of inexhaustible energy, firm commitment, and outstanding efficiency. He said once: "I consider it inappropriate for a missionary to retire unless he is totally unable to serve. I have never tried on a 'robe de chambre,' not even in my dreams. I would better die on the field where God's Providence destined me to plough and sow."

[[Image:StNicholasJapanGrave.jpg|thumb|right|175pxl|Grave of St. Nicholas of Japan in the Yanaka Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan]]
These words fully reflect his human nature. His private life was that of an [[asceticism|ascetic]]. He never tried to perform any special feat, but rather surrendered his entire soul to God. His life was marked with hardships and willfulness, self-appraisals and tiredness, and the feebleness of an old man. However, the saint's life was a clear manifestation of success in overcoming these hardships through the fulfilment of [[Christ]]'s commandments, shown to the whole world.

On [[February 3]], 1912, Archbishop Nicholas, the enlightener of Japan, peacefully reposed in the Lord at the age of 75, to be succeeded by his assistant the future Metropolitan [[Sergius (Tikhomirov) of Japan]]. On [[April 10]], 1970, the Church of Russia headed by [[Patriarch]] [[Alexei I (Simansky) of Moscow|Alexis I]] of Moscow and all Russia decided to [[glorification|glorify]] Archbishop Nicholas naming him [[Equal-to-the-Apostles]]. Among the Orthodox, in Japan especially, St Nicholas is now [[veneration|venerated]] as a man of great sanctity and a special [[intercession|intercessor]] with the Lord.

[[Troparion]] (Tone 4)

:O holy Saint Nicholas, the [[Enlightener]] of Japan,
:You share the dignity and the throne of the [[Apostles]]:
:You are a wise and faithful servant of [[Christ]],
:A temple chosen by the Divine Spirit,
:A vessel overflowing with the love of Christ.
:O [[hierarch]] [[Equal-to-the-Apostles|equal to the Apostles]],
:Pray to the life-creating [[Trinity]]
:For all your flock and for the whole world.

{{start box}}
title=[[Church of Japan|Archbishop of Tokyo]]|
after=[[Sergius (Tikhomirov) of Japan|Sergius (Tikhomirov)]]}}
{{end box}}

==External links==
*[ St. Nicholas, Equal of the Apostles and Archbishop of Japan] ([[OCA]])
*[ "Enlightener of Japan, Blessed Nicholas Kasatkin"] by [[Presbytera]] Doreen Bartholomew. ''Orthodox America'', Issue 113-114, Vol XII, No. 5-6, Jan-Feb, 1992.
*[ "Enlightener of Japan Blessed Nicholas Kassatkin"] by [[Matushka]] Naomi Takahashi. ''Orthodox America'', Issue 17, Vol II, No.7, February, 1982.
*[ "Orthodox Christian Mission"] a talk by Fr. Gregory Hallam
*[ Orthodox Church Singing in Japan], by Matushka Maria J. Matsushima and choir leader.
*[ Icon of St. Nicholas of Japan]

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