Orthodox America

  An Altar Boy at the Canonization of Saint John Maximovitch

Nathan K. Williams, age 12

I was thrilled!  I was going to St. John Maximovitch's canonization in San Francisco.  This would be the first time I had been to a canonization, much less to that of a modern day saint.

When I first entered the cathedral, I was astounded.  Its beauty was just incredible!  The Myrrh-bearing Icon and the Kursk Icon were there. The choir's singing was just beautiful. The cathedral has three altars: one large one in the middle and two smaller side ones.  During the first service there were not that many people. I served in the altar.  There were fourteen bishops, about 150 priests and about 50 servers.  The next day, however, the cathedral was full.  It was very hard to get to the back of it with the trays of prosphora, because there were about 5000 people.  The altar boys worked in shifts.  The older servers used small microphones and ear plugs to communicate.  The next day the relics of St. John were uncovered.  One altar boy, after venerating, came back and said, "His hands are brown!"  It was true, but I was not as shocked by it. The casket was made of wood with two long metal handles on either side. Then the priests, deacons and bishops went out in a procession around the cathedral.  After they came back in, the service went on for a little while, and then everyone who wanted to (and almost everyone did) came out of the cathedral and followed the priests who were carrying the casket on their shoulders in a procession around the block.  I was able to get a few pictures with my (and my father's) camera. We came back to the cathedral and prayed through the rest of the service. It was a wonderful experience, and I thank God that I was able to attend the canonization of a saint in our own times, St. John Maximovitch.

Richmond, Maine