“The civility and kindness of the Commodore and his officers to the mission family, manifested in various ways, are well illustrated in the following note, in Russian and English (December 19, 1821)
“I thank you from all my heart and soul for the opportunity given me and the officers under my command, to be sharers in promoting the business of this Christian mission. …”
“Please to receive our most sincere wishes that your good intention and the glorious design in which you are engaged may be prospered and increased. Remaining, with my respects to you and your respectable society”. (Michael Vascilieff; Bingham)
“Kaʻahumanu being distinctly apprised of what this Russian officer had said and done in favor of our mission, appeared interested, and was encouraged by it to look the more favorably on our cause.”
“We could hardly avoid calling on the patrons and friends of missions to take courage with us in efforts to propagate the Gospel, from the labors and success of some of the rulers of Russia in introducing Christianity into that vast empire …”
“… Vascilieff and his fellow subjects of Alexander, falls on the mind of Kaʻahumanu and her associates at the Sandwich Islands, combining with the influence of the mission to illuminate and convert the nation to Christ. Of what amazing consequence was it that Kaahumanu should be a believer and advocate of Christianity!” (Bingham)
The presence of Orthodoxy in Hawaii dates back to the 1700s when the first Russian envoys that stopped in the Islands on the way to or from colonies in the US. By 1815, the first Orthodox church was erected on the island of Kauaʻi.
Migration from Greece in the last third of the 19th Century was primarily due to crop failures and a surplus population that caused wide-spread poverty.
A Western technological revolution of cheap and fast steamship and rail travel, along with rapid industrialization, made feasible large scale emigration to America and, on a smaller scale, to Hawaiʻi. (Chapin)
The first Greek settler arrived in 1878. A few Greeks came in as contract laborers with the Portuguese between 1879 and 1884. Although the Planters’ Labor and Supply Company did not recruit in Greece, several Greek men made their way to Hawai’i circuitously, migrating initially to the Azores and Madeira Islands, then to Hawaiʻi.
In 1884 there were seven Greek settlers in Hawaiʻi; by 1890 there were twelve; by 1895 there were twenty-six. A drop to twenty-one occurred in 1896. Greeks then increased to forty-six in 1900.
During the early 20th century, a small enclave of Greeks and Russians living in Honolulu prompted passing Orthodox clergy to stop and celebrate Liturgies and other services for the growing number of Faithful.
By the 1960s, weekly lay services were being held, along with periodic Services by visiting clergy from Japan, Los Angeles, and Seattle. In 1965, a commitment was made to establish a church in the Islands – by 1980s a larger church was need and a site purchased.
The Cathedral is called Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, named for Saints Constantine and Helen. This year marks its 50th anniversary – 1965-2015.
Saint Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus, emperor of the western half of the Roman Empire in the year 274 AD. His mother, Helen was a Christian, of humble birth. Upon the death of Constantius in 306, Constantine was proclaimed emperor of Gaul and Britain and subsequently led his army against co-rulers of the empire.
The emperor-saint came to the aid of the newly emancipated Christian Church in 325 AD when he convened the 1st Ecumenical Council in the city of Nicea; he was ever-reverent of the Sign of the Cross of Christ.
Saint Helen was the mother of St Constantine the Great; because of her great services to the Church and her efforts in finding the Life-Creating Cross, the empress Helen is called “the Equal of the Apostles.”
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