Icon of St. Nicholas of Japan – S343


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Egg Tempera


20th c. (Late)


Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York, USA


St.  Nicholas (a.d. 1836-1912) was born of a pious family in the Smolensk Province in Russia.  His father was a deacon and encouraged his son to enter seminary.  Graduating at the top of his class, he was given a scholarship to attend the famous St. Petersburg Theological Academy, from which he graduated with honors.  Tonsured a monk and then ordained a priest, St. Nicholas desired to go to Japan to preach Orthodox Christianity to their pagan people.

When he arrived in 1860, he was at first disappointed by the lack of interest in the Faith, but soon learned Japanese to translate many services, prayers, and the Holy Scriptures into their language.  Slowly the mission grew to about 140 souls, but due to older laws against Christianity, many were jailed until St. Nicholas had the foreign ambassadors help influence the repeal of these laws.  St. Nicholas was made the first bishop of the Japanese Church in 1880, and in 1891 his cathedral was built in Tokyo.  St. Nicholas believed that the native Japanese should be the mainstay of its mission, and had many Japanese converts become its priests and leaders, making it a truly Japanese Orthodox Church.