Archbishop Victorin: a saint among us

We continue our publication of Archbishop Victorin’s letters by presenting those that contain his first impressions on American soil.


August 14, 1956
Detroit, USA

Your Eminence,

As I wrote you, I arrived safe and sound in the United States. I stayed only two days or so in NY. I paid a visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and several other of my Jerusalemite acquaintances, who I have there. I lodged with them so I didn’t have a chance to meet any of our Romanians in NY.

I came to Detroit. Here I “ran into” Fr. Moraru, who offered me to stay at their rectory or, as they call it, the clergy house, in which HG Andrei also stays. How am I? I think you can imagine pretty well: every day is like a year. I can barely wait to arrange my necessary formalities in regards to my stay in USA and especially my visit to Canada. Honestly, I also think that in the USA I won’t be able to prolong my stay, not even as a visitor. I find myself in a world so foreign that I’d rather take the first boat – to Europe – and to return as soon as possible to the tranquility of our Jordan, whose value I feel that much more from here and for the life that I’ve chosen.

Your Eminence, pray that the good God may help me to pass over these trials and temptations and I may recover at least my freedom, which I didn’t know how to treasure in Jerusalem, of remaining a monk.

With the same filial sentiments,
Archim. Victorin

I think that in a day or two, I’ll give you a more stable address to which you can write me.


Detroit, Sept 6 1956

Your Eminence,

We’re approaching one month since I arrived here and I still haven’t managed to orient myself even with what I have to do. The excessive suggestions in which I see nothing but private interests of “benefactors” make me pass my days with headaches and my nights without sleeping.

I was thinking to leave everyone as I found them and to return immediately to Jerusalem. But even there I see an uncertainty – with the Suez.

I am still at the residence of the Romanian Mission here. There’s also another priest “without a parish”, also miserable because he sacrificed the freedom of his former profession – donning priestly vestments (he was ordained only a few years ago). HG Andrei is not here; for three weeks he’s been in Canada. If he comes, I think, whether we like it or not, we’ll have to move out. In this regard, I understand that Fr. Moraru hinted to the other priest that if HG comes, no one else will be able to stay with him.

I didn’t do anything for Jerusalem either, because I’m not too clear on the formalities of my status in America. I’m not allowed to enter Canada – with a Laissez Passer – except if I have a “permanent resident” visa in USA. And for that, I’d definitely need to extend my stay for at least one year – here. On the other hand, sometimes too discouraged, I feel like taking just the luggage which I had when I visited Your Eminence, so as not to worry about bags, and to go and recover my peaceful cell next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Maybe sometimes I was ungrateful there as well, and that’s why God let me taste American bread too.

As far as concerns the ecclesial and Romanian problems over here, although they don’t appear to be totally unsolvable, yet nonetheless I can’t allow myself an opinion until I don’t become familiar with the other groups too. Maybe HG Teofil wrote you. He passes by here often and I see that he speaks with HG Andrei and they struggle in every direction, north and south – with great hopes of emerging victorious from “their battles” – but those who are less securely hitched to the battle chariots think that only a hierarch with a history of pastoral activity and an indisputable personal moral authority would be able to save the ecclesial life of the Romanians here. That’s why many think of Your Eminence, and ask themselves whether you would accept to come to the United States.

Take these with a grain of salt – everything I write you – because I wouldn’t want to create any spiritual anxiety for Your Eminence with my misfortunes. I continually hope for the better – but since “the better” is delayed, I thought it better to send you these few lines – rather than causing any spiritual anxiety for you in another way, through my excessive silence.

With the same filial sentiments,
Archim. Victorin

If you are able to write me something, send the letter to the address of Fr. George Nan in Windsor – he brings them to me as soon as they arrive there.


Viels-Maisons (Aisne). France.
September 11, 1956

Dear Abbot,

Indeed, I was unsettled by the long pause you made between letters. But I’m not surprised by the contents of this one, sent from Detroit on September 6, this year.

Have no regrets about the unpleasant events you endure and will continue to endure. On the contrary, take a good look through the window that you’ve opened for yourself, coming to North America. You are familiar with most of the ecclesial matters in the home country; familiarize yourself now with the matters of these Romanians, whom no one back home has ever cared for in the past, and who are on the brink of denationalization even with the rising generation.

Arm yourself with patience and wait for the possibility to visit Canada (although I presuppose that the delay of documents is caused by your very hosts in Detroit). If you encounter understanding and goodwill, remain there; otherwise, take a plane or boat from Montreal and return tranquilly to Jerusalem. From there, God again will call you to serve His Church, in which the need for workhands is increasingly greater. Going forward, you’ll have an even greater baggage of knowledge.

In your letters, in reference to the disorders you see, you add my name as well. Without an official delegation and without a number of priests whom I can lean on in my arrival and ecclesial actions in USA, it would have been a big mistake for me. More pronouncedly, only two people called me over: Fr. Gl. Moraru – on unacceptable conditions – and Father Nan, who also sent me a plant ticket. Moreover, the weak and numb clergy has remained complacent under the helm of adventurers. I was at their service, but they didn’t use me; now, it’s too late. The care for clearing up this tumultuous situation belongs rightfully to the future canonical Synod at Bucharest – if it won’t be then even later.

As you know, I want you to remain in Canada. If, however, you see that this is impossible, head back to your cell. (In hopes that tranquility will follow.) Write to them always in a friendly and courteous manner.

Visit also other places in USA.

Receive and share also with Father Nan all my best wishes.
† Visarion