Hundreds of people descended on St Steven’s Cathedral, along with the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej, to participate in the official glorification of a new American saint, Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich of San Francisco and Jackson.
The last time I remember an American saint getting canonized, it was St Raphael of Brooklyn, and the ceremony was held at St Tikhon Seminary in Pennsylvania over fifteen years ago, and I flew East to witness it. This time, the glorification occurred at my own church, St Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, in Alhambra, CA, we attended every day, and my sons got to be altar boys. What a blessing!
Because we lived close by, we weren’t worried enough about getting to church early on Saturday morning for the glorification. The church was full when we got there, with many visitors, and so we went up to the choir loft, which was also full but we squeezed in. It was very hot up there, but I liked it because I had a good view of everything.
However, the heat really got to my husband, and after a short while he decided to sit outside in an overflow area on the patio next to the church with a big TV monitor. A few minutes after he left, to my surprise I saw him enter the church from the side door and get seated in the FRONT ROW!! One of the ushers saw him and a couple other friends from the parish sitting outside and invited them in. So I should have left with him after all! Most of the photos in this post were taken by him. The diocesan website also contains a huge album of good photos.
Here is the reliquary containing St. Sebastian’s relics, which remained at St. Steven’s for almost two months after the glorification.
There were about 75 clergy in attendance, along with Patriach Irinej.
While not in church, I sat at a display table in the outdoor eating & vendors’ area with all my recent work. It was a warm weekend but not too hot, and we were under a canopy tent.
While having to sit with my icons meant that I could not listen to the speeches indoors, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of lovely people. Four icons out of my summer series of faces were sold, including the icons I’d made of the new saints Sebastian and Mardarje. The official iconographer for the event, Fr. Stamatis Skliris, with whom I’d studied a few years ago, came out to greet me and see my work. It was so nice to see him again.
Since Diocesan Days, I have painted five more icons of St Sebastian: three faces and one half figure commissioned by people who had attended the event, and another small face to be available for sale along with a companion icon of St Mardarje. One of my customers told me that she really wanted a handmade icon of St Sebastian in her home since he was born right here in California. St Sebastian is notable for being the first Orthodox priest in America who is American-born! Bishop Benjamin of the Orthodox Church in America delivered one of the sermons that weekend, and in it he said, “We always feel closest to those saints who are closest to us in time and place.” I really feel that way myself. Modern saints are a reminder to me that God has not abandoned us. I didn’t mind painting St Sebastian 4 more times. In fact, I’d be happy to paint him again and again!