The Stories of the Saints of North America
By clicking on each of the individual saints above, you will be able to read his story.
St. Juvenaly was the protomartyr (first martyr) of the Americas, dying as a martyr at the hands of natives in Alaska in 1796. He was born in 1761 in Ekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains of Russia, and was named Jacob Govouchkin. When he was tonsured a monk, he took the name Juvenaly, after St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem in the fifth century. He was ordained a hieromonk (a priest/monk), and lived for some time in the Konyavesky Monastery on Lake Ladoga in Russian Finland.
In 1793, Father Juvenaly and Father (later, St.) Herman, and others were assigned to be missionaries in Alaska, and they trekked 8,000 miles across Russia, Siberia, and the Pacific Ocean, arriving at last on Kodiak, Alaska on September 24, 1794. They worked with immense zeal, and within two years, more than 12,000 Alaskans had embraced the Christian Faith.
Father Juvenaly began missionary work on the mainland
the next year, baptizing more than 700 Chugach Sugpiag Indians,
later many Athabaskan Indians, then moved northwest toward the
Bering Sea, but then disappeared. Although nothing is known
for certain about the circumstances of his death, local oral
traditions among Alaskan peoples tell of the martyrdom of a
priest, which appears to have been Father Juvenaly, who apparently
frightened some Eskimos who did not understand his gestures
in making the sign of the cross, and, by the immediate order
of a Yupiat shaman, Father Juvenaly was killed by arrows and
His missionary activity was brief, but zealous and energetic, and showed immense success in a short time in bringing the saving Gospel to the native peoples of Alaska.
Holy St. Juvenaly, pray to God for us.
St. Juvenaly (with St. Peter the Aleut) is commemorated in the Synaxis of the First Martyrs of the American Land on Dec. 12 according to the calendar of the ancient Church (December 25 on the New Style calendar).
Thy martyr, O Lord, Holy Hieromartyr St. Juvenaly of Alaska, through his suffering, an incorruptible crown did obtain from Thee, our God; for, rejoicing in Thy strength, he laid low his tormentors and did beat off impotent affronts of the demons also; at his intercessions save our souls.
For more reading on the life of St. Juvenaly:
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