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Boston, Massachusetts

Like other coastal American cities, Boston was a magnet for immigrants in the XIX and XX Centuries, and remains so today. The quilt of ethnic neighbourhoods and suburbs is home to many communities of Eastern Christians, and to religious institutions of (in some cases) global importance. Suburban Watertown has been a major centre of the Armenian diaspora since 1900 and houses the Armenian Library and Museum. The Melkites (Eastern Rite Catholic Antiochians) have an eparchy and seminary in Newton. The Greek Orthodox see of Boston (under various names) has long been one of the most influential in the West; Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline is one of the principal Greek seminaries outside of Greece. Brookline is also the home of a very different but no less famous Greek Orthodox institution: the Old Calendarist monastery of the Holy Transfiguration, source of icon prints and translations familiar throughout the Orthodox world but the focus of much doctrinal and jurisdictional controversy. Many celebrated Orthodox intellectuals have also lived and taught in Boston or Cambridge, beginning with the lexicographer E. A. Sophocles in the XIX Century.

Boston in New England is named for Boston in Lincolnshire, which in turn is named for St. Botolph of Iken, an English Orthodox monastic of the VII Century. The founders of the Bay Colony were hardly enthusiasts for their city's patron saint -- although the Puritan minister John Cotton, while still preaching in the old Boston, was to his credit irritated by his congregants' iconoclast zeal to demolish the statues in the mediæval cathedral. Nevertheless, Anglicans and Roman Catholics remembered the connexion, and in the XX Century the monks of Holy Transfiguration Monastery wrote a service and an ikon to encourage Orthodox to do the same. It is curious that one of the most important events in Boston's history -- the Battle of Bunker Hill -- took place on St. Botolph's Day according to the Anglican calendar.

Norman Hugh Redington


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