Saint Nicholas of Japan

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Saint Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to-the-Apostlesaudio button
(February 3/16)
(†1912)

Saint Nicholas of JapanSaint Nicholas of Japan was born Ivan Kasatkin in 1836 in Smolensk province.  His father was a deacon.  Ivan’s mother died when he was only five.  The family was very poor, and Ivan suffered much deprivation in his childhood.  He was talented and hard-working, and graduated with honours from the Seminary in Saint Petersburg.  In 1860 Ivan Kasatkin was given the name Nicholas, and he went to Japan as a missionary.

The first years in Japan were especially difficult for St. Nicholas.  He did not speak Japanese.  People were hostile towards him because he was a foreigner and a Christian.  With hard work and God’s help, the hierarch learned Japanese and translated many church service books.  He also learned to speak English, which was becoming an international language at that time.  Saint Nicholas studied the history of Japan and knew it better than many Japanese.

The first person to convert to Christianity was a Shinto priest, Sawabe.  Sawabe one day came to the Russian priest to express his hate towards Christians.  Father Nicholas spoke to him kindly and told him about the Christian faith.  Sawabe became interested and came the next day to hear more.   Later, he brought a friend with him, then another friend.  All three wanted to receive instructions in the teachings of Christ.  In a few years, they were baptized.   Sawabe was given the name John and ordained as an Orthodox priest.

By 1868, the congregation of Father Nicholas numbered 20 people.   By 1878 there were 4,115 Christians in Japan.  Father Nicholas established the Russian Mission, a seminary, and a school for women.  The Mission regularly published a Christian magazine.  The beautiful Church of the Resurrection was built in Tokyo at that time.

Saint Nicholas became the first bishop of Tokyo, and then, in 1906, an archbishop.  Father Nicholas always remained a humble servant of God.   He reposed in the Lord in 1912 at the age of 75.  By the end of Saint Nicholas’ earthly life, there were 33,000 Orthodox Christians in Japan.

The Church commemorates St. Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to the Apostles, on February 16th (new calendar).

To this day, Christians of Japan remember and deeply respect Father Nicholas.


Japan  [dʒəˈpæn]
Japanese  [dʒæpəˈnɪːz]

Словарь к тексту

deprivation, n.  [ˎde prɪˈveɪ ʃən]  нужда, лишение
hierarch, n.  [′haɪ ra:k]  иерарх
with honours  [ˈɒnəʳz]  с отличием
ordain, v.  [ɔːˈdeɪn]  посвящать в духовный сан
despite, prep.  [dɪsˈpaɪt]  несмотря на