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St. Jacob of Alaska


It seems relatively few Orthodox Christians know about St. Jacob (Yakov) Netsvetov: faithful missionary, gifted translator and educator, friend and fellow-laborer of St. Innocent of Moscow, and the first Orthodox Christian priest born in North America.

  • St. Jacob Netsvetov was the son of a Russian father and an Aleut mother.  

  • He was born in Atka Alaska, attended seminary in Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia, and later moved back to Alaska with his new wife. The journey from Irkutsk to Atka took them a year.

  • He was a great friend and assistant of St. Innocent (first when he was Fr. John Veniaminov, then later when he was Bishop and then Metropolitan Innocent).

  • He was a prodigious  translator and educator and assisted St. Innocent in translating Holy Scriptures and other texts into Alaskan languages and founded bilingual schools.

  • After the death of his wife, he considered joining a monastery, but St. Innocent convinced him not to. Instead, he was sent on his own missionary journeys, holding Divine Liturgy in tents and catechizing and baptizing untold numbers of Alaskan natives

  • He was elevated as a saint by the OCA in 1995.

  • By our count, there are currently only two St. Jacob of Alaska parishes/missions in the United States and none in Alaska (their parishes are probably all too old!)

  • There are currently no ROCOR parishes or missions named for St. Jacob of Alaska

  • We know that St. Jacob is buried in Sitka, Alaska, but the exact site of his relics is unknown. In 2015 the National Park Service , in consultation with the OCA Diocese of Alaska, used Ground Penetrating Radar to attempt to locate his relics

  • Excerpts from his missionary journals may be found in the volume Alaskan Missionary Spirituality, 2nd edition, edited by Fr. Michael J. Oleksa (available from SVS Press).

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