Nicholas (Saiama) of Ramenskoe

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Nicholas (Saiama) was a retired bishop of the Church of Russia, who resided in Japan. He served as the dean of the Moscow Patriarchal mission to Japan and, after the Japanese Church received its autonomy, as the dean of the Patriarchal Representation (Подворья).


Dairoku Saiama was born on November 22, 1914 in Taihoku, Taiwan (then Formosa) while his family resided on the island where his father was on assignment from Japan as a sociologist. Soon after his birth his mother returned to Japan with the children, to live in the city of Miyadtsu, near Kyoto. It was here that he was baptized Peter at a local Orthodox church. Subsequently, he moved with his family to Tokyo where he completed his basic education. During these years in school he made a decision to become an Orthodox priest.

He attended the Tokyo Orthodox seminary at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Nicolai-do) in Kanda, Tokyo, graduating in 1941. His desires to continue his theological eduction were stymied by Japan’s entry into World War II. With the end of the war, the Church of Japan came under the jurisdiction of the former Russian missionary diocese, the Metropolia, in the United States as the American occupation forces were opposed to control of the Japanese Church by the then Soviet dominated Church of Russia.

In 1954, Peter was sent by the Japanese Orthodox Church to St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in the United States. In October 1956, Peter was ordained a deacon. In November 1956, he was ordained a priest. He served in the seminary chapel while continuing his education. After graduating from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1959, he continued his education in Athens, Greece for a year and a half. While in Greece he visited Greek churches and Mount Athos. During those years, Fr. Peter became convinced that the Church in Japan should be returned to the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia. He returned to Japan in 1961.

Having met Abp. Sergei (Larin) when his delegation visited Japan in 1961, Fr. Peter was invited, in 1962, by the Church of Russia to Moscow. During this visit, Fr. Peter took monastic vows and was tonsured a monk at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, near Moscow, with the name of Nicholas. During another visit to the Soviet Union, on August 28, 1966, Hieromonk Nicholas was raised to the dignity of archimandrite at the Spaso-Transfiguration Cathedral in Leningrad. On December 9, 1967, Archimandrite Nicholas was consecrated Bishop of Tokyo at the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery and placed as head of the Patriarchal mission in Japan.

In 1970, as part of the agreement that granted autocephaly to the Metropolia in North America as the Orthodox Church in America, the church in Japan was granted autonomy under the Church of Russia. With this change, the Russian mission in Japan was replaced by the Patriarchal Representation (Подворья), of which Bp. Nicholas was named to serve as its dean. Bp. Nicholas continued as dean until 1986.

During the following twenty years Bp. Nicholas participated with various Moscow Patriarchate delegations to international religious meetings including those of the World Council of Christians. On July 16, 1984, Bp. Nicholas was elevated to the dignity of archbishop.

On December 25, 1986, Abp. Nicholas was relieved of his responsibilities as head of the Patriarchal Representation in Tokyo and placed in retirement. In 1996, Abp. Nicholas was designated a vicar of the Moscow diocese with the title of Ramenskoe.

In retirement Abp. Nicholas lived in the small monastery of the St. Sophia in Sanmu, Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, Japan. He reposed on August 26, 2008 and was buried on August 28 in the Gaijin Botchi, which is a cemetery for foreigners.


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