Nicholas of Japan
Nicholas was born Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin in Berezovsky village, Volsk district, in the province of Smolensk. There his father, Dmitri, served as a deacon. When the child was five, his mother died. The deacon’s family was big and very poor. Despite that young Ivan was sent to the Belsk Theological School and later to the Smolensk Theological Seminary.
In 1857, Ivan, one of the best students, was sent to study in the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where he demonstrated remarkable talents. When Ivan was about to finish his studies, his future mission, to preach the Orthodox faith in Japan, was revealed by Divine Providence.
The Russian consul in Japan sent a request to the Holy Synod (later forwarded to the Academy), asking for a pastor “who would be useful both as a spiritual director and a scholar and whose private life would give a good idea of our clergy not only to Japanese, but also to foreigners.