Sad Death of Bishop Nestor of the Russian Church.


A fatality seams to attach itself to the Graeco-Russian clergy of this diocese. In 1878 the Russian Arch-priest, Alexander Kedrolivansky came to his death under peculiar circumstances, and now comes the news of the almost equally tragic death of the Right Reverend Bishop Nestor, the local head of the same Church. From the information at present attainable it appears that the following are the facts attending the decease of the prelate: The deceased was Bishop of the diocese of Alaska, but had his headquarters in this city at the Russian Orthodox church on Powell street. Alaska contains most of the followers of the faith, and it has been Bishop Nestor’s custom to make a yearly trip to that Northern Territory. He made the passage up last year on the Alaska Commercial Company’s steamer St. Paul. And it was on the arrival in this port of the same steamer on Sunday evening that the news of his sad death was received. Nothing unusual was noticed in the Bishop’s behavior during this pastoral visit, except that he complained at times of a rush of blood to the head, a malady to which he had been subject for some years.




The St. Paul started on her downward trip on the 11th of July, having among her passengers Bishop Nestor, and it was while she was laying at anchor off St. Michael’s that his friends noticed that he began to act so strangely as to lead to the supposition that he was suffering from a temporary aberration. The St. Paul left St. Michael's on the 12th, and when about twelve miles out the news was circulated on board ship that the Bishop had disappeared. He had been accustomed to take considerable exercise on deck, and when he failed to appear in the morning a search was at once instituted all over the vessel. An examination of his state room showed his apparel to be neatly disposed, and his papers, letters, etc., to be arranged in a studious order. The suspicion was entertained that he had committed suicide while in a fit of dementia brought on by acute pain, and subsequent investigation strengthened this suspicion. At the stern of the steamer and on the edge of the deck footprints were discovered and other marks were seen which seemed to point to the fact that some one had gone overboard.




The steamer immediately stopped and a boat lowered, but although a vigorous search was instituted for several hours, no trace of any human being could be discovered. Disheartened the tired searchers were at last taken back to the steamer, which then put back to St. Michael’s where orders were left with the Alaska Company’s agents to use all endeavors to recover the body. The Russian Consul General Olarovsky visited the office of the company yesterday, and personally interviewed Captain Erskine and Dr. McIntyre, but gained only a corroborative account of the unfortunate occurrence without securing further particulars. A Chronicle reporter called last night at the late Bishop’s residence on Powell street, and also found that no further information could be gained, and that the sorrowing clergy and parishioners accepted the fact of an inevitable loss. As a commemorative service a requiem mass will be begun at 10 o’clock this morning, and a requiem mass will be sung at noon. Other mourning ceremonies will follow, and the sad news of the fatality will be laid before the Holy Synod at St. Petersburg, whose duty it will be to appoint a successor to Bishop Nestor. The deceased was spoken of as one whose memory was highly revered, and it is stated that almost the entire amount of his salary was distributed among the poor.




Nicolas Paul Baron Zass was a Russian aristocrat and a son of a staff officer of the Russian navy. He was educated in St. Petersburg Naval Academy and served in the navy until he was 25 years of age, having received a medal in 1855 for his conduct during the Crimean was and being favorably known in New York as a gentleman and officer on board the Oslabia during the years 1852-3. resigning from the navy he entered the Coenobium, at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, under the direction of Father Paissy Kridiborsky, when, not having been married, he took the vow of celibacy and assumed the name of Father Nestor. He twice refused an episcopate, but finally accepted the appointment which brought him to this coast and which invested him with the title of Bishop of the Episcopate of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. The deceased had received an excellent secular education, was considered a prelate of an exceedingly religious manner of life, spoke English fluently, was a native of Northern Russia and was about 56 years of age at the time of his death.


San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, August 15, 1882