Isabel Florence Hapgood: A very small meditation on how Eastern Christian mystical theology is beginning to touch the West

Today, June 26, the American Episcopal Church celebrates the life of Isabel Florence Hapgood.

For me it is particularly interesting in that it has opened fascinating doors for spiritual exploration.

Born in Boston in 1851 to a wealthy family, she had many advantages of that time and place. While her gender kept her from following her twin brother to Harvard, she received good tutoring and completed the top-notch curriculum at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut.

Very early on, she showed a facility for languages. His interests gradually shifted from French and German to Russian, Polish and Church Slavonic. And she quickly established herself as a translator of French and Russian literature. His translations of Victor Hugo made him known to American readers. His translations of Tolstoy and Gogol were standard versions for a generation.

Isabel Hapgood has worked primarily as a journalist. She was a foreign correspondent for The nation and The New York Evening Post. She also contributed to The New York Times, Harper’s Weekly, The centuryand The Atlantic Monthly.

His life was not entirely without default. But, of course, it’s true for all of us…

But the important thing, at least for me, was his interest in Russian Orthodoxy. However, she has gone through her whole life and, as far as I know, unwavering Anglicanism.

She spent several years towards the end of the 19th century touring the Russian Empire. And returned almost every year for the rest of her life.

She was among the first to translate Russian liturgies and especially Orthodox choral music into English. She became a friend of the Russian Orthodox Archbishop of Alaska and later Patriarch Tikhon, He provided her with critical support, and her successor in Alaska provided her with a comprehensive set of Church Slavonic texts, which she translated. There “Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church (Greek-Russian)” is always used.

Isabel Florence Hapgood died in New York on June 26, 1928. She was 76 years old.

As noted at the beginning of this reflection, the Episcopal Church added her to the denominational calendar of saints at the 2009 General Convention.

here is one appreciation of his work.


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