Pillars of Orthodox Christianity
in North America
Rejoice, O continent of North America, illumined by the holy Gospel!
Rejoice, every province, state, city and town, which raised up citizens of the heavenly Kingdom!
Rejoice, our venerable Father Herman, first saint of our land!
Rejoice O Martyrs Juvenaly and Peter for your blood has watered the seed of faith planted in Alaska!
Rejoice, O holy Hierarchs: Innocent, Tikhon, Nicholas and Raphael!
Rejoice, O holy Fathers Alexis, John, and all righteous priests!
Rejoice, All Saints of North America, for your light has shone forth to the ends of the earth!
We beseech you to pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved!
St. Alexis Toth:  Defender of
Orthodoxy in America
  Rejoice, O mountains of Pennsylvania; leap for joy,
O waters of the Great Lakes; rise up, O fertile plains
of Canada; for the elect of Christ who dwelt in you
are glorified, men and women who left their homes
for a new land!
  With faith, hope and patience as their armor,
they courageously fought the good fight. Comforted
by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith, they labored in
mines and mills, they tilled the land, they braved the
challenges of the great cities, enduring many
hardships and sufferings.
  Never failing to worship God in spirit and truth
and unyielding in devotion to His most pure Mother,
they erected many temples to His glory.
  Come, O assembly of the Orthodox, and with love
let us praise the holy women, men and children, those
known to us and those known only to God, and let us
cry out to them:  "Rejoice, All Saints of North
America and pray to God for us!"

-Stichera for All Saints of North America
St. Tikhon:  
Enlightener of America
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The Apostolic Authority given by Christ to His Apostles was passed on in the Armenian Church
through Sts. Thaddaeus and Bartholomew to their chosen successors, the first bishops of Armenia -
and their first Catholicos, St. Gregory the Enlightener.  Likewise the Apostolic Succession and
authority was passed on to the Patriarchs of Constantinople, including St. Gregory the Theologian, St.
John Chrysostom, and St. Photius the Great.  This
Apostolic Succession and Authority was eventually
passed on through Holy Orders to the Patriarchate of Moscow (being granted autocephaly by
Constantinople in 1593).  In 1920 St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, the “Enlightener
of America,” granted autonomy to the Orthodox Church in America during the fallout of the Bolshevik
Revolution in Russia.  In 1970 the Orthodox Church in America was granted its autocephaly by the
Patriarch of Moscow, Alexi I.  Together with the other Orthodox Churches, we comprise the One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:4-6).

The Orthodox Church in America is headed by a Metropolitan rather than a Patriarch.  There is
historic, canonical precedent for this.  The title and office of Metropolitan is older than that of
Patriarch.  Before the establishment of Patriarchs in the Church (beginning in AD 325), the
Metropolitan was the highest episcopal rank in the Eastern Church.  Metropolitans presided over
synods of bishops and were granted special privileges by Church canons and sacred tradition
(adapted from Wikipedia).

As one writer states, “By the end of the third century or by the beginning of the fourth, certain Bishops
of important cities or provincial capitals in the Roman empire gained preeminence above other
Bishops and they came to be known as Metropolitans.  The Ecumenical Councils of the fourth century
recognized the authority of these Metropolitans.  By the fifth century the Bishops of the major cities of
Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch gained jurisdiction over the churches of their
surrounding cities.  Gradually they became the heads of each independent regional Church and were
called ‘Patriarchs’ which means ‘Common Father’ (adapted from:  malankaraorthodoxchurch ).  But
this does not canonically undermine or negate the historic authority of a Metropolitan over a given
Church and there remain autocephalous Orthodox Churches to this day headed by a Metropolitan.