The Vikings in Newfoundland: Canada’s first Orthodox parish? – Fr. Geoffrey Korz




The Vikings in Newfoundland: Canada’s first Orthodox parish?

by Fr. Geoffrey Korz

“Where two or three are gathered together in My name,

I am there in the midst of them” – Matthew 18:20



The tiny community of L’Anse aux Meadows at the far northern tip of Newfoundland is distinguished among Canadian heritage sites as the oldest European settlement in Canada. Scarcely a dozen buildings remain of this Viking settlement, constructed over one thousand years ago by a group of Scandinavian settlers who appeared ready to make a new home in the frigid northlands of what would later become Canada.

It is almost certain that the tiny group was led by a Viking named Karlsefni, an associate of Leif Erikson (called Leif the Lucky, for his many extraordinary successes), one of the first Norsemen to accept baptism within a largely pagan culture. By the time these settlers arrived in Canada, Christianity and paganism were living side by side in northern Europe, and had not yet had the opportunity to discover the differences which would inevitably lead to conflict. The Norse were a pragmatic lot, whose religious zeal was usually focused on doing whatever it took to survive and to win. And the Christian God was the ultimate Victor.

A delightful story is told of the curious Viking habit of seeking repeat baptisms; it seems the Norsemen were drawn to baptism, every year, at the hands of Saint Ansgar and others, enjoying the fresh white shirt and ten silver talents they customarily received at the hands of the priest, if only they would allow themselves to be submerged beneath the sacred waters (Joseph Lynch, Christianizing Kinship, p. 73). For the average pragmatic Viking, multiple baptisms simply made sense: it conferred spiritual as well as material benefits desperately needed in a seagoing culture, where life was hard, brutish, and short.

It is understandable that Orthodox clergy in the Norse lands immediately curtailed the Viking zeal for multiple baptisms, just as soon as it came to their attention. (The throngs of Norsemen must have been a bit of a blur to the average missionary priest. One can only imagine the encounters and conversations between the eager Vikings and the bewildered clerics). But just as with mission work today, only God can plumb the depths of the heart of a Christian man, and perhaps the Vikings did have their fair share of zealous converts, offering silver crosses as illustrations to the Odin worshipers of the God Who destroyed Death Itself. For a Norseman, just as for us today, one cannot do better than that.

We know that the Norse seafaring parties who traveled to North America contained mixed crews of Thor-worshipers and Christians (Erikson himself started out as the former, and ended up, rather early in life, as the latter). We also know that one of the parties of settlers his adventures produced the first Canadian-born child of European extraction, a boy named Snorri, whose grandchildren included three bishops right around the time of the Great Schism (news of which traveled very slowly to Viking lands, in any case).

Perhaps here we have a glimpse of the first Christian community in Canada: a tiny one, to be sure, and not organized as far as the Church is concerned. Their firstborn child was almost certainly baptized, although probably back in the old country, once his parents joined their companions and fled from the North American natives who never seemed to take a liking to the Norse tendency to attack on sight. Outnumbered, far from home, and cold (yes, even Vikings get cold), it was perhaps inevitable that the first Orthodox settlement in Canada was not to last. It would seem the unfortunate trend of Orthodox Canadians looking back to the old country and not putting down roots in the west was established early on.

It is almost certain that no Orthodox priest was present at the first settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows. Yet archaeological digs further northwest on Baffin Island present an interesting possibility. A thirteenth-century Thule native site produced an intriguing relic: a tiny carved figure dressed in European clothing, with evidence of a cape over the shoulders, and a long cloth draped around the neck, hanging down to the feet – and marked with a cross. Robert McGhee, who specializes in Arctic archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, suggests this figure shows a crusader who served as a retainer for a viking captain. This is based on the theory that Christian clergy in northern Europe did not wear pectoral crosses until a much later period.

Yet we know both Saints Cuthbert and Adamnan, saints of the Orthodox west, both wore such crosses, as we can see today on display at the cathedral in Durham, in the north of England. It seems more difficult to believe that a crusader would have traveled thousands of miles with pagan Vikings, rather than a Christian priestmonk, seeking out mission territory, or more likely, seeking a remote monastic home, as we know the Celts did in Greenland centuries before. Whether this figure represented an Orthodox priest or a cleric of the western Latins after the Schism, we’ll likely never know.

But for Orthodox Christians in Canada, the rubble at L’Anse aux Meadows and the carving from Baffin Island remind us that a minute Orthodox presence likely existed in Canada long before two world wars, and long before the Reformation. These facts confirm that the first Christians to set foot on our soil were from what is sometimes erroneously called the “undivided Church” – the Orthodox Church before the breaking away of Rome. And our brother Leif the Lucky, along with his kinsmen at L’Anse aux Meadows – and perhaps even a lone priestmonk on Baffin island, were what one might think of as founding members of the first Orthodox community in Canada – whether they knew it, or not.


Saint Brendan the Navigator from Ireland to Canada (+578) & Tim Severin – The Brendan Voyage (1976–1977)


canada ffeee


Saint Brendan the Navigator

from Ireland to North America (+578)

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”

Psalm 107:23-24

St Brendan, The Navigator was born in Fenit Co. Kerry in 484. Educated by Bishop Erc in Kerry, set his skills to developing his knowledge to the art of ship building and the rules of the seas around Fenit Island. Building a simple boat made out of wood and leather, St Brendan set sail and discovered America in search of the Promised Land of the Saints. His journey and adventures were outlined in his journal the Navigatio Sancti Brendani which even inspired the Great Christopher Columbus himself on his voyage of discovery many years later.

* * *

Our father among the saints Brendan was born about 484 AD to an Irish family near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. At a very young age he began his education in the priesthood and studied under St. Ita at Killeedy. Later he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him in 512 AD.

During the next twenty years of his life, St. Brendan sailed all around the Islands surrounding Erie (Ireland), spreading the word of God and founding monastery after monastery. The most notable of these is Clonfert in Galway, which he founded around 557 AD, and which lasted well into the 1600s. St. Brendan died around 578 AD and his feast day is marked on May 16th.

Brendan’s first voyage took him to the Arran Islands, where he founded a monastery, and to many other islands which he only visited, including Hynba Island off Scotland, where he is said to have met Columcille (Columba). On this voyage he also traveled to Wales, and finally to Brittany, on the northern coast of France.

The event that St. Brendan is most celebrated for, however, is his voyage to the “Land of Promise”. Sometime in his early journeys, St. Brendan heard from another monk the story of a land far to the west, which the Irish claimed was a land of plenty.

He and a small group of monks including, possibly, St. Machutus, fasted for forty days, then set sail for this land in order to investigate and ‘convert’ the inhabitants. Altogether the journey took seven years.

In the ninth century, an Irish monk wrote an account of the voyage in the Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of St. Brendan). This book remained popular throughout the entire Middle Ages, and made Brendan famous as a voyager.

The account is characterized by a great deal of literary license and contains references to hell where “great demons threw down lumps of fiery slag from an island with rivers of gold fire” and “great crystal pillars”. Many now believe these to be references to the volcanic activity around Iceland, and to icebergs.

Upon reaching their destination, they engaged a guide who took them around the land. They went inland but were prevented from going further by a great river. Soon after this, St. Brendan, and the remainder of his colleagues sailed back to Ireland. Only a few survived the journey.

In modern times the story was dismissed as pure fabrication, but in the 1970′s a man named Tim Severin became fascinated with the story and decided to replicate St. Brendan’s journey. Severin built a boat made of hides tanned with oak bark just like the one described in the ancient text. The hides were sewn together over a bent frame of ash wood and the seams were sealed with animal fat and grease. With a group of volunteers he set sail for America and made his way to Newfoundland. His journey is covered in “The Brendan Voyage: Across the Atlantic in a Leather Boat”.



Tim Severin – The Brendan Voyage (1976–1977)

It is theorized by some scholars, that the Latin texts of Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot) dating back to at least 800 AD tell the story of Brendan’s (c. 489–583) seven-year voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to a new land and his return. Convinced that the “Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot)” was based in historical truth, in 1976 Severin built a replica of Brendan’s currach. Handcrafted using traditional tools, the 36-foot (11 m), two masted boat was built of Irish ash and oak, hand-lashed together with nearly two miles (3 km) of leather thong, wrapped with 49 traditionally tanned ox hides, and sealed with wool grease.

Between May 1976 and June 1977, Severin and his crew sailed the Brendan 4,500 miles (7,200 km) from Ireland to Peckford Island, Newfoundland, stopping at the Hebrides and Iceland en route. He considered that his recreation of the voyage helped to identify the bases for many of the legendary elements of the story: the “Island of Sheep”, the “Paradise of Birds”, “pillars of crystal”, “mountains that hurled rocks at voyagers”, and the “Promised Land”. Severin’s account of the expedition, The Brendan Voyage, became an international best seller, translated into 16 languages.

The boat is now featured at the Craggaunowen open-air museum in County Clare, Ireland.

Source: Wikipedia




Άγιος Μπρένταν (St Brendan) ο Πλοηγός & Ταξιδευτής από την Ιρλανδία στην Βόρεια Αμερική (Καναδάς) (+578)


Άγιος Μπρένταν (St Brendan)

ο Πλοηγός & Ταξιδευτής από την Ιρλανδία

στην Βόρεια Αμερική (Καναδάς) (+578)

“Αυτοί που κατεβαίνουν στη θάλασσα με πλοία, που κάνουν εργασίες σε πολλά νερά· 

αυτοί βλέπουν τα έργα τού Κυρίου, και τα θαυμαστά έργα του, που γίνονται στα βάθη”

Ψαλμός 107, 23-24


Άγιος Μπρένταν ο Ταξιδευτής



Ο Άγιος Μπρένταν (St Brendan), γεννήθηκε περίπου το 484 μ.Χ. σε μια ιρλανδική οικογένεια κοντά στη σημερινή πόλη του Tralee, στην κομητεία του Kerry της Ιρλανδίας. Σε πολύ νεαρή ηλικία άρχισε τις σπουδές του στην ιεροσύνη και σπούδασε με την πνευματική καθοδήγηση της Αγίας Ίτα (St Ita) στο Killeedy της Ιρλανδίας. Αργότερα ολοκλήρωσε τις σπουδές του με την πνευματική καθοδήγηση του Αγίου Έρικ (St Erc), ο οποίος τον χειροτόνησε το 512 μ.Χ..

Κατά τη διάρκεια των επόμενων είκοσι χρόνων της ζωής του, ο Άγιος Μπρένταν έπλευσε γύρω από τα νησιά της Ιρλανδίας, διαδίδοντας το λόγο του Θεού και ιδρύοντας το ένα μοναστήρι μετά το άλλο. Τα πιο σημαντικά από αυτά είναι το Clonfert στο Galway, το οποίο ίδρυσε το 557 μ.Χ., και το οποίο διατηρήθηκε ως το 1600. Ο Άγιος Μπρένταν κοιμήθηκε το 578 μ.Χ. και η ημέρα της εορτής του είναι στις 16 Μαΐου.

Το πρώτο ταξίδι του Αγίου Μπρένταν ήταν στα Νησιά Arran όπου ίδρυσε ένα μοναστήρι, και σε πολλά άλλα νησιά, τα οποία επισκέφθηκε, συμπεριλαμβανομένου της Νησου Hynba στα ανοικτά της Σκωτίας, όπου συνάντησε τον Άγιο Κολούμπα (St Columba). Σε αυτό το ταξίδι μετέβη επίσης στην Ουαλία, και, τέλος, στη Βρετάνη, στη βόρεια ακτή της Γαλλίας.

Το γενονός από το οποίο ο Άγιος Μπρένταν έγινε πολύ διάσημος ειναι το ταξίδι του στη «Γη της Επαγγελίας». Κάποια στιγμή στα πρώτα του ταξίδια, ο Άγιος Μπρένταν άκουσε από έναν άλλο μοναχό για την ιστορία μιας γης μακριά προς τα δυτικά υποστήριζοντας οτι ήταν μία “Γη της Επαγγελίας”.

Αυτός και μια μικρή ομάδα μοναχών, συμπεριλαμβανομένου, ενδεχομένως, του Αγίου Machutus, έκαναν νηστεία για σαράντα ημέρες, και στη συνέχεια απέπλευσαν για αυτή τη γη, προκειμένου να κηρύξουν το Χριστό. Συνολικά το ταξίδι πήρε επτά χρόνια.

Τον ένατο αιώνα, ένας Ιρλανδός μοναχός έγραψε μια καταγραφή του ταξιδιού με τίτλο Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Ταξίδι του Αγίου Μπρένταν). Το βιβλίο αυτό παρέμεινε δημοφιλής για πολλούς αιώνες, και έκανε τον Άγιο Μπρένταν γνωστό ως Ταξιδευτή.

Μόλις έφτασαν στον προορισμό τους πήγαν στην ενδοχώρα αλλά εμποδίστηκαν να προχωρήσουν από ένα μεγάλο ποτάμι. Σύντομα μετά από αυτό, ο Άγιος Μπρένταν, και η συνοδία του έπλευσαν πίσω στην Ιρλανδία. Μόνο λίγοι επέζησαν από το ταξίδι.

Τη δεκαετία του 1970 ένας άνδρας με το όνομα Tim Severin ενθουσιάστηκε με τον βίο του Αγίου Μπρένταν και αποφάσισε να επαναλάβει το ταξίδι του. Ο Tim Severin κατασκεύασε μία βάρκα φτιαγμένη από δέρματα ακριβώς όπως αυτή που περιγράφεται στο αρχαίο κείμενο. Με μια ομάδα εθελοντών απέπλευσε για την Αμερική και έφτασαν στη Νέα Γη. Το ταξίδι του Tim Severin καταγράφεται στο βιβλίο “The Brendan Voyage: Across the Atlantic in a Leather Boat” (Το Ταξίδι του Brendan: Πέρα από τον Ατλαντικό μέσα σε μια Δερμάτινη Βάρκα).

Πηγή – Αγγλικό κείμενο:




Saint José Muñoz-Cortés du Chili, le martyr d’Athènes, Grèce (+1997) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* French





canada fffkfkfkkfe


Saint José Muñoz-Cortés du Chili,

le martyr d’Athènes, Grèce (+1997)



Saint José Muñoz-Cortés (13 mai 1948, Santiago – 30 octobre 1997, Athènes) est un membre du clergé orthodoxe.

Il naît au Chili d’une famille de descendance hispanique et catholique pieuse. C’est à l’âge de 12 ans qu’il fait la connaissance de l’archevêque Léonty, sous l’influence de qui il est baptisé dans l’Église orthodoxe russe deux ans plus tard avec le consentement de sa mère. Il devient professeur d’art à l’Université de Montréal, où il commence également à s’intéresser à l’iconographie. Durant l’été 1982, Frère José se rend au Mont Athos dans le but d’y visiter les communautés monastiques et les monastères se spécialisant dans la peinture d’icônes.

Lorsqu’il se trouve dans le skite (communauté monastique d’ermites) de la Nativité du Christ, il y sent une attraction intense et spontanée pour une icône de la Mère de Dieu, copie contemporaine (1981) de l’ancienne icône d’Iveron, qui fut très vénérée. Lorsqu’il demanda comment il pouvait l’acquérir, il est dépité d’apprendre qu’elle n’est pas à vendre. Mais alors qu’il s’apprête à quitter la communauté, à sa grande joie, l’abbé Clément la lui remet subitement en disant que c’est la volonté de la Mère de Dieu qu’elle aille avec lui en Amérique. De retour à Montréal, Frère José prend l’habitude de lire un acathiste chaque jour devant l’icône. Quelques semaines plus tard, le 25 novembre, Frère José se déclare surpris de sentir une forte odeur parfumée dont il dit croire qu’elle émane de l’icône. Selon lui, le parfum serait celui de la myrrhe et proviendrait des mains de la Mère de Dieu1.

Frère José passe les 15 années suivantes à prendre soin de l’icône, qui continuait, toujours selon lui, à émettre ce parfum, et à voyager avec elle dans de nombreuses paroisses non seulement aux États-Unis, au Canada, mais aussi en Amérique du Sud, en Europe, et en Australie. Il satisfait également les demandes de prière de la part de milliers de fidèles, et commémore chaque jour de longues listes de noms2. Frère José est torturé3 et assassiné dans sa chambre d’hôtel à Athènes la nuit du 30 ou 31 octobre 1997, par des Roumains, selon un site religieux1. L’icône n’a pas été revue depuis. José avait l’intention de retourner au Canada le jour suivant pour y célébrer le 15e anniversaire du début de l’émanation du parfum par l’icône.

Selon la lettre d’une moniale, des témoins auraient découvert avec stupéfaction que son corps ne semblait pas présenter pas le moindre signe de corruption 12 jours après sa mort, et qu’une odeur de sainteté s’en dégageait.


Source: Wikipedia









Saint New Martyr Jose Munoz-Cortez

from Chile & Canada who martyred in Athens, Greece (+1997)

& the miracle Hawaii’s Icon of Holy Virgin Mary

ST Martyr José-Ambroise.jpg


Grave of St Martyr Jose (Joseph) Muñoz-Cortes 

in Holy Trinity cemetery, Jordanville, N. York, USA


Saint Jose (Joseph) Muñoz-Cortes (13 May 1948, Santiago, Chile – 30/31 October 1997, Athens, Greece) was an Orthodox man, the keeper of the Iveron Icon of Montreal (Hawaii’s miracle Icon).

Jose was born in Chile into a pious Roman Catholic family of Spanish descent. He was a boy of twelve when he became acquainted with Archbishop Leontius (Filippovich) and under his influence José was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia two years later, with his mother’s consent.

A talented artist, he secured a job teaching art at the University of Montreal, and began studying iconography. In the summer of 1982, Brother Joseph went to Mount Athos with a particular interest in visiting some sketes and monasteries specializing in icon painting.

At the small skete of the Nativity of Christ, Brother Joseph felt an immediate and strong attraction for an icon of the Mother of God, a contemporary (1981) copy of the ancient and revered Iveron Icon. He was disappointed to learn that it was not for sale, but to his great joy, as he was leaving the skete, Abbot Clement, unexpectedly handed the icon to him, saying that it pleased the Mother of God to go with him to America. Back in Montreal, Brother Joseph began reading an akathist daily before the icon. A few weeks later, on November 25, he awoke and smelled a strong fragrance. The new icon was streaked with myrrh, miraculously emanating from the hands of the Mother of God.

For the next fifteen years, as myrrh continued to flow from the Icon, Brother Joseph devoted himself to its care, accompanying it on numerous trips to parishes all over the United States and Canada, to South America, Australia, and Europe. Brother Joseph was also faithful in fulfilling the countless requests for prayers that he received, daily commemorating scores of people, among whom were several dozen godchildren. Jose was tortured and murdered in an hotel room in Athens, Greece on the night of October 30 or 31st, 1997, and the icon has not been seen since. He had planned to return to Canada the following day to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the appearance of the miraculous myrrh on the icon.

Source: WIkipedia