Monthly Archives: August 2022

The Mystical Meaning of Walsingham

O England, thou hast great cause to make glad.

Thou attainest my grace to stand on a level

To be compared to the promised land of Zion

Through this glorious Lady’s support

And to be called in every realm and region

The holy land, Our Lady’s dowry;

Thus art thou named from old antiquity.

 The Pynson Ballad, Verse 19, in Modern English

 Introduction: Norman Walsingham

An Orthodox visitor to the tiny village of Little Walsingham in Norfolk will discover there a shrine to the Mother of God, which clearly reflects the mentality of High Church Anglicanism, known as Anglo-Catholicism. Recreated as recently as the 1930s, after being destroyed 400 years before at the Reformation, the shrine feels artificial, contrived and even rather alien to Orthodox. The birettas and general imitation of old-fashioned Roman Catholicism by High Church Anglicans seems fake. Orthodox have no desire, or need, to imitate old-fashioned or, for that matter, new-fashioned, Roman Catholicism. On the other hand, no-one can deny that there is a genuine atmosphere of sincere piety, peace and, most significantly, great grace, within the shrine. This must be recognised, whatever the offputting externals, which we must learn to see beyond.

Yet despite this, those with a sense of history will still be put off by the official version of the story of the shrine to be found in the guidebook. This openly states that the shrine originated in 1061 when a ‘Saxon’ (sic!) noblewoman ‘Richeldis de Faverches’ (sic!) had ‘a vision’ of the Mother of God. This is clearly nonsense. ‘Saxon’ noblewomen did not exist in England in 1061, English noblewomen did. Also you will not find any English noblewomen in 1061 with the clearly French Norman name of ‘Richeldis de Faverches’! Either the vision took place in 1061, but was granted to an Englishwoman and not to ‘Richeldis de Faverches’, or else it did not take place in 1061 at all, but during the Norman Occupation following 1066. Either one or else the other. It cannot be otherwise.

After a little research it is not difficult to discover that the name Faverches (then the name of a tiny village near Lisieux in Normandy) does indeed occur in connection with Little Walsingham. A historical document known as ‘The Norfolk Roll’ refers to the foundation of a Priory of ‘Augustinian Friars’ in Little Walsingham in 1130-1131, and precisely by a widow called Richeldis de Faverches, who died in 1145. She left her estate to her son, Geoffrey de Faverches, who took part in the Second Crusade, setting out in 1147. And one of the sponsors of that Crusade was the then Bishop of Lisieux.

Does this simply mean that the date 1061 is nonsense and the whole story belongs to twelfth-century Norman Roman Catholicism, to 1131? Where does the 1061 date come from? This is important for Orthodox. Although after the half-Norman Edward ‘the Confessor’, who promoted the new Roman Catholic religion, became King of England in 1042, a spiritual decline occurred in England, nevertheless until 1066, England was still in communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church. Thus, a vision of the Mother of God in 1061 has a meaning for Orthodox. Supposing the 1061 date is correct and, quite simply, it was someone else, an Englishwoman, who had a vision of the Mother of God? Clearly, we have to examine the origin of this 1061 date.

Orthodox Walsingham

The 1061 date comes from one particular source, that of the respected Norman-born royal printer and poet Richard Pynson (c. 1449 – c. 1529). Pynson was employed by the Tudor kings Henry VIII and before him Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509). The latter made a three-day pilgrimage to Walsingham in 1487, after which he commissioned Pynson to write a Ballad about its history. Pynson’s Ballad was written at the very latest in 1494, when it was printed, but its lost sources presumably go back centuries before and include ancient oral traditions.

It surely cannot be some invention, as it mentions specifically 1061 and no other date. Indeed, the Ballad specifically states that the vision at the origin of the shrine occurred in the reign of ‘Edward the King’ (= the Confessor), that means before 1066.  Moreover, the 1061 date was later confirmed by the very reliable antiquarian, royal archivist and poet John Leland (1503-1552). And the date is also confirmed by an earlier 14th century manuscript of the Book of Hours in the University Library in Cambridge (Ms. 1i. Vi. 2.Fo. 71r). This too maintains that the chapel in Walsingham was founded in 1061.

Writing in 15th century English, reminiscent of Chaucer, Pynson names the seer as a mysterious ‘Rychold’, the then Lady of the Manor. Now, according to the Domesday Book, the Lord of the Manor of Walsingham in 1061 was none other than Harold Godwinson (or Godwineson), King of England from 6 January 1066, and the Lady of the Manor was his wife Edith. This manor had come to Harold precisely by his marriage to Edith on 23 January 1045 when he was Earl of East Anglia, as recorded by the Little Domesday of Norfolk, compiled in 1088. Edith (c. 1020 – c. 1086) is given several names in the Domesday Book, among them precisely ‘Rychold’, meaning ‘Rich’ or ‘Fair’, and more poetically ‘the Gentle Swan’ (Another title, the ‘Swan-Neck’, comes from the Old English ‘swann hnecca’, probably a corrupted form of swann hnesce, ‘Gentle Swan’). Edith is recorded in the Domesday Book as Edfgifu the Rich, her name latinised as ‘Edeva’.

Edith had inherited Walsingham from her mother Wulfgyth, daughter of the King of England, Ethelred the Unready (+ 1012) and half-sister of King Edward the Confessor. Although Edith’s mother Wulfgyth, also called Wulfhilda, had married Ulfkytel the Brave, who died in battle in October 1016, Edith was almost certainly her daughter by her second husband, Thorkell the Tall, advisor to King Canute (Knut) and Earl of East Anglia until 1021.

Very much a Patroness of East Anglia, the Anglo-Danish Edith was rich and held a great many properties in East Anglia, notably in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex, as well as in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, notably in Chesham, and dwellings in Canterbury, as is recorded by The Domesday Book. Her brothers owned property in Norfolk, specifically in Great and Little Walsingham. In 1045 Edith married Harold (c. 1022-1066), son of Godwin (also spelled Godwine) of Sussex. Harold had become Earl of East Anglia and inherited the East Anglian lands of Edith. Only in 1053, on his father’s death, did he inherit the title of Earl of Wessex.  In turn he became King of England on 6 January 1066 on Edward the Confessor’s death.

As a devout noblewoman Edith had received an education and was recorded by the Abbot of ‘Eastholm’ as ‘keen and wise in her understanding’. One of the richest noblewomen in England, she employed a personal goldsmith, called Grimwald. She donated a valuable Gospel to the Monastery at Thorney in Cambridgeshire and was the benefactress of St Benet’s Monastery at Holme in Norfolk in 1046. Both she and her pious husband Harold were spiritual children of the saintly pastor Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester (c. 1008-1095). He was the only English bishop who was allowed to retain his Diocese by the Norman invaders, though he greatly regretted the Norman rebuilding of Cathedrals which favoured quantity (size) over quality (prayer).

Like King Canute (c. 990 – 1035), Edith and Harold were married in the customary way of the age in England by solemn promise, typical of the time all over Northern Europe. This was known as a ‘hand-fast marriage’. A number of dowry bequests were made at the time of Edith’s union to Harold, including Walsingham Manor, making Edith ‘the Lady of the Manor’ before 1061. They had six known children, Godwin (named in honour of Harold’s father), Edmund, Magnus, Gytha (named after Edith’s grandmother), Gunnhild and Ulf (the last four with Danish names; any East Anglian even today has Danish blood, an East Anglian myself, my DNA says that I am 11% Danish).

The importance of these children is indicated by the fact that Gunnhild was abducted after the Battle of Hastings. In 1068 Gytha was taken by her grandmother to Denmark in 1068 and then married the Prince of Smolensk, Vladimir Monomakh. She had some eleven children by him and so brought the bloodline of St Alfred the Great into the Russian royal family. Gytha reposed on 7 May 1107. One of her sons had a double name, the Slav Mstislav, and Harold, in memory of his grandfather.

It is said that Edith identified Harold’s mutilated body after his death at Hastings. It was because of Edith’s identification of Harold’s body that he could be buried, either by the monks of Waltham in Essex, which Harold had founded, or else at his family home in Bosham in Sussex, inside the pre-Conquest church. After the Battle, Edith disappears from the historical record. By 1086, her lands had passed to an invader. Possibly she joined Harold’s mother Gytha in Exeter, from where she may have been exiled after the siege in the winter of 1068. Perhaps she joined her exiled sons in Ireland, or joined Gytha in Denmark, as some suggest, and then Kiev. Others suggest that she may have set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from which she did not return. We wonder if she did not arrive in Nazareth and there repose. After all her vision had been of the house in Nazareth where the Most Holy Virgin had received the Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel.

Conclusion: The Future of Walsingham

If, as seems very likely, the Walsingham vision of the Mother of God took place in 1061 and was granted to Edith, the wife of Earl and then King Harold Godwinson, then we can now see that the Normans stole Walsingham from England, overlaying it with their anti-English myths. It was all part of their mythology that they had brought Christian civilisation to England and that before them there had been nothing and certainly no vision of the Mother of God to the benighted English. That is why they deleted the enemy King Harold and his Queen Edith from the history of Walsingham, assigning the vision to a later Norman woman, Richeldis de Faverches, who lived nearly three generations later. That is why they disguised Edith with the title ‘Rychold’, in order to confuse her with the much later Richeldis.

Clearly, having killed King Harold, his wife and children were still enemies and threats to the Norman usurpers. Harold had replaced his father Godwin as the focus of patriotic opposition to Norman influence in England under Edward the Confessor, who had spent more than 25 years in exile in Normandy. That is why the Norman clergy slanderously made out that Edith was Harold’s mistress and that the couple were not married, even making out that he married again in 1066, when he had made a political pact with a certain Alditha. Their fully legitimate ‘handfast’ wedding is still part of the Orthodox wedding ceremony today, when the newly-wed couple are led around the central lectern by the priest, their hands placed together on the priest’s stole. That is also why the Lombard Archbishop of Canterbury Lanfranc, appointed by William the Bastard in 1070, railed against the local English saints, who were often royal. It was a purely political and indeed racist move. Anything fine and noble in pre-Norman English culture had to be overlaid, buried and cancelled. Indeed in later times paid, Normanised scholars even gave the strange name ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to the English to try and alienate the English from their very own blood and kin.

As a result of her vision, Edith wished to do something special to honour the Mother of God, who appeared to her in 1061. In that threefold vision Edith was shown the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the place of the Incarnation, and was instructed to build a replica of the house in Little Walsingham as a place of pilgrimage where people could honour her. Mary is said to have promised, ‘Whoever seeks my help there will not go empty away’. That is what Edith did. This Annunciation was surely an announcement of consolation to the English before the defeat at Hastings and ensuing Norman Occupation that has lasted to this day, that Christ would always be with us.

Today, the shrine at Little Walsingham does have a tiny staircase chapel big enough only for half a dozen Orthodox. In the village itself there is also a tiny Orthodox chapel in a temporarily rented building, where a liturgy is held once a year, mainly for converts to Orthodoxy from Anglicanism. However, there is no church that is owned by Orthodox and there are very few Orthodox living, that is, who are incarnate, in the area. However, 25 miles away there is the historic port town of Kings Lynn which has strong Orthodox connections. Here there is no Orthodox church building, though there is a community of Orthodox. Could it be that an Orthodox church, dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God, could be established in Little Walsingham, for the service of Orthodox and in memory of the piety of Edith, the last Orthodox Queen of England? From this tiny rural hamlet in Norfolk, the Mother of God reigns over England.

O gracious Lady, glory of Jerusalem,

Cypress of Zion and Joy of Israel,

Rose of Jericho and Star of Bethlehem,

O glorious Lady, reject not our askings

Thou dost excel all women in mercy

Therefore, blessed Lady, grant Thy great grace

To all that devoutly visit this place.

The Pynson Ballad, Verse 21, in Modern English


  1. In writing the above, we acknowledge a great debt of gratitude to the late Bill Flint, the author of a most interesting book called Edith the Fair, Visionary of Walsingham, Gracewing 2015. Although there are the mistakes of the amateur historian, this book has great merit.
  2. We are also indebted to the work Harold the Last Anglo-Saxon (sic) King, by Ian W. Walker, The History Press, 2010
  3. In our church in Colchester we have a very beautiful and very iconographic panaghia of the Mother of God of Walsingham. We had this made in the Ukraine three years ago for a worthy bishop. It is soon to be gifted to His Grace Metropolitan Joseph, who so keenly wishes his local Diocese of over 60 parishes to become incarnated into English life and tradition.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Felixstowe, Suffolk,

1 September 2022




Goodbye, Trafalgar Square


Following the 2034 collapse of Britain and the popular overthrow of its millennial Establishment after nearly two decades of political turmoil, England moves ahead.  As regards internal changes to the English Capital, just today the following alterations have been announced by the People’s Government in London, the Capital of England. These are part of its programme of ‘Re-Englanding England’, also known as ‘Debritainisation’.

England Square

Today, exactly two hundred years after ‘Trafalgar Square’ in London was given the name of an Arabic-named Cape in Spain, the Square is to be renamed ‘England Square’. The statue of Nelson on its column is to be replaced by a statue of the effective founder of England, King Alfred the Great, known as ‘England’s Darling’, ‘The Truthteller’ and ‘The Lawgiver’. It will then be known as ‘Alfred’s Column’. A spokesman for the People’s Government said that it in no way wished to denigrate Nelson, whose tactical genius and personal bravery are undoubted, but Demilitarisation is an inherent part of Debritainisation. The statue will be removed to the English Museum, formerly called ‘The British Museum’. This has plenty of empty space, since so many of its artefacts, looted from around the world by British imperialists mainly since the eighteenth-century, have been returned to their countries of origin.

At the same time the four lions around the base of Alfred’s Column will also be sent to the English Museum as part of the policy of Demilitarisation, that is, as part of the policy of the removal of aggressive symbols of imperialist militarism. They will be replaced by four female figures, personifying Motherhood, Peace, Justice and Freedom. The four plinths for statues on England Square, at present occupied by three statues (the fourth plinth is empty) of the German King George IV and the imperialist militarists, Napier and Havelock, are also to be sent to the English Museum. They will be replaced by statues of literary and social geniuses of English history, known as ‘The Four Williams’: William Langland (1332-1386), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), William Blake (1757-1827) and William Cobbett (1763-1835).

As readers may know, Langland wrote a visionary English-language poem and allegory called ‘Piers Plowman’, in which he denounced the corruption of the medieval Catholic Church and praised the simple faith of the people. As for Shakespeare, he was the most brilliant poet of the English language and a very perceptive psychologist, who described in detail the good and bad in human nature and their motivations. Blake was the visionary poet and artist who opposed the appalling exploitation of his age and wrote the new English National Anthem, ‘Jerusalem’, in which he denounced the ‘dark, satanic mills’ of the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’, that is, of the mass exploitation of industrial workers. Cobbett was a politician who struggled for social justice and wrote against the collectivisation, or privatisation, that is, just plain theft, of the common land in England, euphemistically called the ‘Enclosures’. He constantly campaigned against corruption and poverty and in favour of rural prosperity and freedom.

As for the busts of the three imperialist Admirals, Jellicoe, Beatty and Cunningham, in England Square, they are also to be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by busts of three well-known poets: a soldier (Wilfred Owen), a merchant sailor (John Masefield) and an airman, John Gillespie Magee (author of ‘High Flight’). They are in memory of the sacrifices of ordinary men, ‘the lions led by donkeys’, in the imperialist wars of the British past. The statue of Charles I on the south side of England Square, usurped and then beheaded by a clique of grasping merchants, will be retained. However, the statues in front of the National Gallery, of the Scottish King James II and of the slave-owning colonist George Washington, will be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by statues of the two Patronal Saints of England, St George and St Edmund.

The Square of the Peoples

Meanwhile, there will also be changes to the statues outside ‘Parliament’, renamed ‘The House of the People’ since the abolition of the House of Lords, to that in the Guildhall, and to the twelve statues in Parliament Square, now renamed ‘The Square of the Peoples’. Outside the House of the People, the statue of Cromwell is to be replaced by a statue of an Irish peasant, at least 200,000 (10% of the population) of whom the brutal thug Cromwell had massacred. In the Guildhall the statue of Thatcher is to be replaced by the statue of a Yorkshire coal-miner. Both old statues are to be taken to the English Museum to protect them from vandalism.

In The Square of the Peoples, nine of the present twelve statues are also to be removed. These are, in anti-clockwise order: the statue of Churchill, replaced by that of an English child orphaned by bombing in the Second World War; that of David Lloyd George by an injured World War One Welsh soldier; that of the South African Prime Minister Smuts by a Boer woman from a British concentration camp during the Boer War; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Palmerston by that of a Russian peasant-soldier from the British invasion of Russia (the so-called ‘Crimean War’); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Smith-Stanley (the Earl of Derby) by that of a Chinese woman suffering in the so-called, British-caused ‘Opium War’ (Genocide of China); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Disraeli by that of a Bulgarian peasant-woman, oppressed by the Ottomans whom Disraeli immorally supported; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Peel by that of a starving Irishwoman from the Irish Potato Famine; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Canning by that of a Scottish crofter, removed by force from his land which was stolen from him in the so-called ‘Highland Clearances’; that of Lincoln by that of a Tasmanian Aborigene, representing the treatment of North, Central and South American Natives, Australian Aborigenes, genocided Tasmanians and Maori, all as a result of British ‘colonisation’ (land-theft). The statues of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett will remain as symbols of the striving for freedom of Africans, Indians and of women, who were freed from Victorian oppression and the deprivation of rights.


The new English People’s Government, elected by over 85% of the electorate according to the new proportional democracy, is keen to depose the old tyrants and celebrate the victims of tyranny. It has come to our knowledge that parallel changes are about to occur not only in newly-reunited Ireland and newly-independent Scotland and Wales, but also in the newly-freed countries of the former EU. This follows last month’s sacking of the EU headquarters in the Berlaymont building in Brussels. Everywhere in Western Europe the flags of freedom are beginning to flutter defiantly.

In Paris the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is to be renamed ‘L’Arc du Peuple’ (‘The People’s Arch’) and Napoleon’s bloody battles are to be removed from it. Rome, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon – all are reviewing names of streets, statues and monuments. As for the English Government, it has already joined the new Confederation of Free European Nations (CFEN), a loose structure which will meet in various European Capitals. It has been formed to replace the old centralised EU and its unelected bureaucrats and tyrants.


In Memoriam: Daria Dugina

The news of the recent terrorist murder of Alexander Dugin’s daughter, Daria, has shocked us all. Of course, in one sense it is no different from all the other brutal murders of countless human-beings under puppet regimes from the Philippines to Vietnam, from Italy to Latin America, from Greece to Africa, and in many other countries over the last three generations. Nevertheless, it concerns me more personally, as I know her father.

I first met the Russian Eurasianist philosopher Alexander Dugin in London in March 2005. He and I were two of the four speakers at an International Conference on the European Tradition. My approach was spiritual and so politically neutral, his approach was that of a right-wing academic. But regardless of that, we were heading in the same direction and, all the more as I was the only Orthodox priest present, we sympathised. I was able to speak to him between talks and we had a photograph taken together.

Alexander went on to become quite well-known on the academic and political philosophy circuits internationally. His influence on President Putin has been much exaggerated by the Western media which has decided (or rather been ordered) to cast him as ‘Putin’s adviser’, but that is another story. In fact, Alexander was a theoretician. However, as such his books, articles and talks were always stimulating and thought-provoking and will continue to be so.

It is my hope and prayer that the sacrifice of his daughter, Daria, which leaves him heart-broken, as it would any father, will not make him bitter. Rather it will inspire him to purify and refine his thought further, so that his influence through her will be ever greater. Below I attach the talk I gave that day, seventeen eventful years ago. I dedicate it to Daria.


Holy Europe and Anti-Europe

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten

Psalm 136, 6


Last November I was invited to come and speak to you about Europe. My viewpoint is perhaps an original one for most of you, since it has an Orthodox Christian perspective. In the Orthodox Church we have a very different understanding of the Trinitarian God, and therefore of life, from that found in the Catholic/Protestant religion. I hope that this will become apparent to you in the course of this talk.

I have lived all over Europe and have travelled in many other parts of Europe and worked with dozens of European nationalities. I have been deeply drawn to many places in Europe, some well-known, others very obscure. I have very good friends in many European countries. So I have learned to have compassion for others, and try and look at the world from different standpoints. The following is a viewpoint which expresses the underlying unity of Europe, but which is also respectful of the diversity of the national traditions of European peoples. I hope that it will be of interest to you.

Introduction: Cynicism and Belief

Great nations are born in real belief and enthusiasm. They die in unbelief and cynicism.

Alfred Noyes, 1937

So wrote the English Catholic poet Alfred Noyes nearly seventy years ago. Perhaps we may also say, paraphrasing his words: ‘Great civilizations are born in real belief and enthusiasm. They die in unbelief and cynicism’. These words, sadly, may seem strangely apt in relation to modern Europe, which does appear to be drowning in unbelief and cynicism.

In today’s decadent European context it may therefore seem peculiar to use the words ‘Holy’ and ‘Europe’ together. However, if we can speak of ‘Political Europe’, ‘Economic Europe’ or ‘Social Europe’, then we should also be able to speak of ‘Holy Europe’. Moreover, it is our duty to speak of this, for it is the belief of the Church that if the European house does not first have a holy foundation, if it is built not on rock, but on sand, then it will possess no lasting moral or cultural values, it will be flooded and blown away, and great will be the fall of it.

It is our belief that the cause of moral and cultural decadence is always in spiritual decadence. It is our belief that a humanity deprived of spiritual values is a humanity doomed to falter and fail in a cultural and moral quagmire. Not believing in God, we no longer believe in ourselves. The result is the purposeless but uniform futility that we see around us in today’s throwaway culture, with its throwaway remarks, disposable goods, junk food, junk music, junk TV, junk culture, junk existence. This is the situation today, not so much of Europe, but of Anti-Europe. How has this Anti-Europe come into being and how can we return to a Europe of spiritual culture and moral dignity, a Europe of nobility and indeed holiness?

Europe and Jerusalem

We have forgotten Jerusalem and the land where He was born

Christmas 1912, J.E. Flecker

In any consideration of Europe and the Christian understanding of the word holiness, we must first point out that Christianity came down from heaven and became incarnate not in Europe, but in Asia. In the fourth century this was the whole sense of planting the capital of the Roman Christian Empire on the Bosphorus. At the gates of Europe and Asia, New Rome, or Constantinople as it came to be called, looked to unite both East and West, as symbolized by the emblem of the double-headed eagle.

Although Christians in Asia, including in the Middle East, were eventually to become a minority in a sea of Islam, the source of what some might call ‘the European Faith’ is not in Europe, but in Asia, or more precisely in Jerusalem. It does not matter whether it was the Russian Patriarch, Nikon (1605-1681), who in the seventeenth century built to the south of Moscow, a complex of buildings imitating the sacred geography of Jerusalem, which he called ‘New Jerusalem’. It does not matter whether it was the English visionary, William Blake (1757-1827), who wrote that he would not cease from mental fight, till we had ‘built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land’. It has always been to Jerusalem that Europeans, East and West, have looked for inspiration as the source of holiness. And every step that Europe has taken away from its roots in Jerusalem has always been a step away from Christ. Jerusalem is at the roots of Europe’s Faith and Europe’s Holiness.

Indeed, when the region around Jerusalem where Christ lived was given the name ‘the Holy Land’, Europeans imitated it. Thus, like the Holy Land, the largest country in Europe, Russia, was also given the title ‘Holy’ and called Holy Russia. Elsewhere there is the Holy Mountain (Mt Athos), and in England, Scotland and Wales there are Holy Islands. As for Ireland, it was once known as ‘The Island of the Saints’. And all European countries, from Armenia to Iceland, Lapland to Portugal via Liechtenstein and all points inbetween, have adopted Patron Saints, be it St Gregory or St Columba, St Tryphon or St George and St Theodul, St Andrew or St Patrick, St Modest or St Olaf, St Denis or St Sava, St James or St David.

Furthermore, two European countries and thousands upon thousands of settlements in Europe, have taken their names from those who have won holiness and so become local Patrons. There are Georgia and San Marino, named after St George and St Marinus, and then countless cities, towns, villages, islands, mountains and lakes. To name but a few: St Petersburg in Russia and the same dedication of St Peter Port in Guernsey, St Andrew’s in Scotland and the same dedication of Szentendre in Hungary, the island of São Miguel in the Azores and the same dedications of Archangelsk in the far north of Russia, Monte San Angelo in Italy and Mont St Michel in Normandy, Santiago de Compostela (St James) in Galicia and San Sebastián (St Sebastian) in the Basque Country, Sankt Gallen in Switzerland and Sankt Johann in Austria, Saint Nazaire in France and the island of Aghia Marina in the Dodecanese, Sviatogorsk in the Ukraine and St Alban’s in England, St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly and Santa Cruz, the Holy Cross, in the Canaries.

Another tiny European country, Monaco, is named after the monks who once dwelt there, and there are hundreds of towns named after the same monks and nuns who sought and brought holiness, from München, Mönchengladbach and Münster in Germany, to Monastir in Macedonia. There are countless French towns including the word Moutiers and some thirty-two English minster-towns from Axminster to Westminster. As regards the word ‘church’ and all its equivalents, we could start with Christchurch in the south of England, go to innumerable Llan names in Wales, to Kirkwall in the Orkneys, from there to Dunkirk, the church on the dunes, in northern France, pass on to Belaya Tserkov to the south of Kiev and then back to Trinité sur Mer in Brittany, to cite just a few examples.

Other sites and towns are famous simply as holy places, be it Rome, Echmiadzin in Armenia, Trondheim in Norway, Tinos in Greece, Iasi in Romania, Roskilde in Denmark, Czestochowa in Poland, St Paul’s Bay in Malta, Zhirovitsy in Belarus, Braga in Portugal, Mtskheta in Georgia, Echternach in Luxembourg, Diveyevo in Russia, Montserrat in Catalonia, Rila in Bulgaria, Skellig Michael in Ireland, Pochaiev in the Ukraine, Iona in Scotland, Piukhtitsa in Estonia, Utrecht in Holland, Ochrid in Macedonia, the shrine of the Virgin of Meritxell in Andorra, Pec in Serbia, Birka in Sweden, Marianka in Slovakia, Valaamo in Finland, Fulda in Germany, Velehrad in Moravia, Einsiedeln in Switzerland, or Canterbury in England.

Despite these historic facts, there are those who, to the amazement of men and angels alike, would deny the Christian basis of Europe. Indeed they have just drawn up a Constitution for the atheist Europe of their dreams, and our nightmares. Such people would cut Europe off from its spiritual roots, they would confirm the Anti-Europe.

Europe and Anti-Europe

The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.

Lord Grey, 3 August 1914

In speaking of an Anti-European spirit we may first think of the insular nationalism of the Irish and the Icelanders, of the Maltese and the Corsicans, of the Cypriots and the Sicilians, of the Sardinians and the English, of the Faeroese and the Shetlanders. Their insularity comes from living on islands. However, continental Europeans can also be insular. Those who live in the mountains have also fought their tribal battles, whether in the Swiss valleys, the mountains of Armenia and Georgia, the Carpathians of Slovakia, the glens of the Scottish clans or in the Balkans, from Bosnia to Croatia, Albania to Macedonia, Serbia to Montenegro, Romania to Bulgaria.

However, it is not only island and mountain peoples who can be insular and nationalistic. The French, for instance, have fought wars to preserve the geometric integrity of ‘L’Hexagone’, ensuring ‘insular’ borders, the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhine, the Vosges, the Ardennes. Where there was no natural border, nations constructed the buffer-state of Belgium between France and emerging Germany. Other European countries have been constantly overrun, because they had no natural borders, through lack of insularity, as one might say. The flat plains of Hungary, the Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, provide no protection.

In the modern context, we can also see the same insularity, the same nationalist reluctance to accept others. Western European politicians are prone to say the word ‘Europe’, and in fact mean their own country. ‘La France forte dans une Europe forte’, ‘A strong France in a strong Europe’, was the war cry of French President Jacques Chirac only a few years ago. Many another European politician has made it clear down the years that when they spoke of Europe, in fact they often meant their own selfish interests. Another example: wherever you travel in the European Union, you will see signs with the yellow ring of EU stars, in the centre of which you will find a GB or D or I or SU, or whatever it may be. This is not a European identity, this is a national identity under siege.

Thus, although nationalist insularity can embody the spirit of Anti-Europe, there is also another sort of Anti-European insularity. In order to exercise close control and create the illusion of a centrally united Europe, many politicians speak of ‘Europe’, when in fact they mean the European Union. In fact, this so-called ‘Union’ is not Europe, but merely an insular Europe. It is merely the Western corner of Europe, with some significant gaps – Norway and Switzerland, for example, which, for many, are the most European countries of all. And in this so-called European Union there are the gaps of the two largest countries in Europe: Russia and the Ukraine, and some fifteen other countries and peoples.

There is nothing new in this, for such a European Union was attempted even towards the end of the First Millennium. As the great French medieval historian, Jacques Le Goff, has written of the first attempted European Union, that of the Carolingian Empire: ‘Of all previous attempts to unite Europe, this was the first example of a perverted Europe…it was the first failure of all the attempts to build a Europe dominated by one people or one empire. The Europe of Charles V, that of Napoleon and that of Hitler, were in fact anti-Europes’. (In ‘Was Europe born in the Middle Ages’, p.47 in the French edition of the collection ‘Faire l’Europe’, Seuil, 2003). It is our belief that the present version of the European Union is just such another Anti-Europe. The very word ‘Union’ symbolises this fact, for any centrally-imposed Union, not freely-chosen, inevitably crushes the diversity of its peoples.

True, strides have recently been made to incorporate several ‘missing’ parts of Europe into the European Union. Here I am thinking of the addition of ten more countries to the EU on 1 May 2004. However, these new members have not yet been absorbed into the Brussels machine and perhaps, thank God, never will be. The accession of these ten new members has revealed an obscure but highly symbolic problem; it has proved impossible to find a single person out of 450 million who can interpret or translate from Finnish to Maltese and vice versa. Other permutations, such as Slovak to Danish, Estonian to Greek, Lithuanian to Hungarian, Dutch to Latvian, Slovene to Spanish and vice versa, have also proved very problematic. This problem symbolises the diversity within even the present European Union and the impossibility of actually imposing the Brussels centralist nightmare on such a diverse and obstinately real Europe.

Thus, in our context, when we speak of Anti-Europe, we mean both the nationalist refusal to accept the underlying unity of Europe, and also the internationalist refusal to accept its diversity. By Anti-Europe we mean that spirit which cuts Europeans off from the only thing that Europe really has in common, Jerusalem, Europe’s Christian roots, Europe’s Holiness, and that also cuts Europeans off from other Europeans. For in cutting themselves off from God, Europeans cut themselves off from their neighbours and so become tribal:

In failing to love God, Europe fails to observe the first commandment of the Gospel.

In failing to love its neighbour as itself, Europe fails to observe the second commandment of the Gospel. And he who fails to love his neighbour as himself, automatically begins to hate himself.

And so Europe takes the path of suicide. Hatred of God leads to hatred of man; hatred of man leads to hatred of self.

This is the path that Anti-Europe has taken again and again, from the Deicidal Crusades and Inquisitions of the Middle Ages, to the Fratricidal ‘Wars of Religion’ of the Reformation, to the Suicidal Wars of 1914 and 1939.

After committing tribal genocide against its own European peoples in the first half of the twentieth century, Anti-Europe came directly to its post-1945 reaction. This was the temptation of centralising, creating the cosmopolitan uniformity of the European Union. As a result, since 1945 a cultural suicide has been taking place in Europe. Mafia-like Eurocrats, encouraged by the United States, have tried to impose uniformity on all, crushing European national identities by imposing secularism. This is not the underlying unity of Europe’s roots in Jerusalem, but a false unity, the pseudo-unity of secular Brussels, of Anti-Europe. From the Christian standpoint, such ‘unity’, top-down centralisation, is no more a solution to Europe’s problems than the warring nationalisms which marred so much of Europe’s history in the Second Millennium.

In contrast, the original Christian model of international relations has never been aggressively nationalistic. Neither has it ever been soullessly cosmopolitan and internationalistic. The original Christian model has always been that of Trinitarian unity in diversity, Community, Commonwealth, Confederation. What hope is there for the victory of such a model today?

Europe and Interpatriotism

You are seeking and you shall find,
Not in the way you hope, not in the way foreseen.

A King’s Daughter, John Masefield

It is the recent accession of ten new members to the EU, with very diverse, but very European, histories, cultures and languages, which gives us hope. Their EU membership, together with the future potential membership of other European countries, may at last begin to break down the secular Anti-Europe. New members could destroy Anti-Europe’s ignorant and bigoted cosmopolitanism and its anti-religious ‘political correctness’, imported from post-Christian Puritan America, by creating a new awareness of real European identity. Their membership may at last put paid to the absurd ‘one size fits all’ standardisation and soul-destroying egalitarianism of the present European Union.

Above all, their membership could lead to a new awareness of the underlying stratum of what all European countries really have in common: Europe’s roots in the Faith from Jerusalem. It is those roots which reveal to us neither belligerent nationalism, nor soulless internationalism or Americanisation and Zionisation, which is now camouflaged under the name of ‘Globalisation’. Those roots reveal to the ignorant and bigoted a balance between the national and the international, a replacement for both nationalism and globalisation. I would call this replacement – Interpatriotism; the love not only of one’s own homeland, patriotism, but the love of the homelands of others too.

Bez Boga, ne do poroga. The Russian proverb can be translated freely as ‘No God, no entry’. It neatly illustrates opposition to the present-day EU among all who belong to the European Spiritual Tradition. It neatly illustrates what all European Christians have in common, in spite of and because of, their diversity. There are certain orthodox principles on which all who belong to the European Spiritual Tradition can agree. This is in our opposition to Godless secularism, the spirit of ‘this world’, to which we say ‘No entry’.

We saw this in October 2004 with the affair of Rocco Buttiglione, who was not allowed to express Christian sense, the sort of common sense that fifty years ago every five-year-old European child could express. At the end of 2004, personalities as diverse as Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, were at one in declaring that Buttiglione had been persecuted for his Faith, the once common Faith of Europe. On 19 November 2004 Cardinal Josef Ratzinger spoke of how the forces of secularism in Europe, the so-called ‘liberal consensus’, have now become aggressive persecutors of European Christendom. Like many others, we had been saying it for years before him.

There are such turning-points in European history, moments of truth, when questions of principle arise. Then we have to say where we stand, in black and white. And the united spiritual forces of Europe, united as they were for most of the First Millennium, the living Faith of Europe, can bring strength. Here I would like to give a few examples from that Europe of the First Millennium, a Europe united in diversity, before the Apostasy, betrayals and tragedies, before the Deicide, Fratricide and Suicide, which rapidly took form in the Second Millennium. For most of the First Millennium, called by many ‘The Age of Faith’, although divided and diverse, there was also unity, a spiritual unity which gave Europe the strength to absorb and baptize barbarian hordes and produce a new Europe. Here are a few names from that epoch, who illustrate true internationalism, or as I have called it – Interpatriotism:

St Irenaeus of Lyon was a Greek from Asia Minor. He was a disciple of St Polycarp, who had been a disciple of St John the Evangelist, ‘the disciple whom Christ loved’. A Church Father, he was Bishop of Lyon in Gaul, where he was martyred for the Faith at the beginning of the third century.

St Chrysolius was an Armenian who lived in the fourth century. Under persecution from the Persians, he left his homeland, went to what is now Belgium, and evangelised the area. He was martyred in Flanders and is still venerated in Bruges.

St Martin of Tours was born in the fourth century in what is now Szombathely in Hungary. He was educated in Pavia in Italy and enrolled in the Imperial cavalry. Posted to Gaul, he left the army after the famous incident in Amiens. He was to become the Bishop of Tours and one of the greatest saints of Christendom, a patron of the Loire Valley, of hundreds of French villages and towns and his name became one of the most common French, and indeed European, Christian names and surnames.

St John Cassian was born in the Dobrudja in what is now Romania. He became a monk in Egypt and in the fifth century established a monastery near Marseille in the south of France, becoming one of the great monastic Fathers of Christendom.

St Martin of Braga lived in the sixth century. Born in what is now Hungary, he became a monk in Palestine, then went to Galicia, in what is now Portugal. He is one of the greatest figures of the Iberian Peninsula and played an important role in converting pagans, like his namesake in Gaul. He made his see of Braga into the first spiritual centre for all north-west Iberia. Indeed, in Portuguese, Braga, ‘the Rome of Portugal’, has become proverbial: ‘tao velho como o sede de Braga’, ‘as old as the see of Braga’, means in English, ‘as old as the hills’.

St Theodore of Tarsus lived in the seventh century in Asia Minor, a hundred miles from the coast of Cyprus. In middle age he left for Rome and there played an important role in uniting East and West at a time of controversy. Then he was appointed the first Greek Archbishop of Canterbury. Here he played a fundamental part in uniting the strands of Irish and Roman Christianity in England, approving both as complementary to one another.

St Boniface was born in Devon in the south-west of England. In the eighth century he went to the German Lands and became a great missionary Archbishop, reforming much of the Christianity of north-western Europe. Supported by three Popes, including the Greek Pope St Zacharias, this Englishman, known as the Apostle of Germany, was martyred in Frisia in Holland in 754.

St George of Córdoba was born in Bethlehem in the ninth century and became a monk at St Sabbas Monastery outside Jerusalem. Fluent in Greek, Arabic and Latin, he then travelled via North Africa to Córdoba in Spain where he preached the Faith, finally being martyred with Spanish brothers and sisters by the Muslims.

St Wenceslas, or Václav, was Duke of the Czech Lands in the tenth century. He was martyred there in intrigues and is venerated in St Vitus Cathedral in Prague to this day, as the Patron-Saint of the Czech Lands.

St Olav was King of Sweden in the mid-tenth century. He and his family were baptized by the English missionary St Sigfrid. His daughter married into the Russian royal house, lived mainly in Novgorod, had twelve children, one of whom is venerated as a saint. In her widowhood, she became a nun, taking the name Anna and is herself honoured as a saint.

St Gregory of Burtscheid was a Greek monk from Calabria who, fleeing from the Muslims, met Emperor Otto III in Rome. At the latter’s invitation, Gregory went north and founded a monastery just outside Aachen where he was a holy Abbot, reposing in 996.

St Simeon of Padolirone was an Armenian pilgrim. Having visited Jerusalem, then Rome, Compostela in Spain and Tours in France, he settled at a monastery outside Padua in Italy, where he was renowned as a wonder-worker, reposing in 1016.

St Simeon of Trier was a Greek, born in Syracuse, educated in Constantinople, and who then lived as a hermit by the River Jordan, in Bethlehem and on Mt Sinai. Sent by his Abbot to Normandy to collect alms, he eventually settled in Trier in Germany and lived there as a much-venerated hermit. He was canonised seven years after his repose, which came in 1035.

Another Anna of the eleventh century, this time of Kiev, married Henri I of France. She played a vital role in spreading Christian values, like many other women of the First Millennium before her. As examples, there are St Clotilde in Gaul, the Greek Theodosia and also Ingonde in Spain, the Bavarian Theodelinda in Lombardy, the French Bertha in England, the English St Bathilde in France, the Czechs, St Ludmila in Czechia and Dubrava in Poland, the Swedish St Helga, or Olga, in Kiev, the Greek Empress Theophano in Germany. In Anna’s eleventh century Kiev, they were to welcome Christians such as Thorwald of Iceland and Gytha of Winchester. Both Kiev and Winchester were famed for their standards of civilization, running water, drains, pavements, education.

Here are but a few examples of the concourse or coming together, of Interpatriotic Europe in the First Millennium, before the advent of both warring nationalism and soulless internationalism in the Second Millennium. In the First Millennium, we find the roots of Europe, we find Holy Europe.

Conclusion: Roots and Routes

Die Weltgechichte is das Weltgericht
The history of the world is the judgement of the world

Friedrich von Schiller

Europe – you forgot holiness, and so you began a hundred wars of crusade and conquest over a thousand years.

Europe – you silenced your conscience, and so you invented the machine-gun and saturation bombing.

Europe – you stifled the voice of God, and so you invented the concentration camp and the Atom Bomb.

Europe – you forsook your roots in Jerusalem, and so you invented Anti-Europe.

I would paraphrase the most terrible, above-quoted words of Friedrich von Schiller, as he spoke in Jena in 1789: Die Europageschichte ist das Europagericht: The history of Europe is the judgement of Europe. The blood-soaked deeds of Anti-Europe are Europe’s judgement, but they are only part of Europe’s judgement. There is another Europe too. As I said at the beginning of this talk, the conjunction of the words ‘Holy’ and ‘Europe’ may seem strange, as though words from two different planets had collided, but I tell you, and have been telling you all this afternoon, that it was not always so. A voice from the past should be jarring on the memory of today’s Anti-Europe.

It is my belief that in seeking common European roots, or origins, we shall find routes, or paths, out of the present European crisis towards what I have called an ‘Interpatriotic Europe’, summed up so harmoniously in the French phrase ‘l’Europe des Patries’. It is in our common spiritual origins that we shall find our common spiritual opportunities. It is in our common spiritual identity that we shall find our common spiritual freedom. But if Europe denies her common roots, her common spiritual origins in Jerusalem, then, as even the warlike Churchill said of earlier twentieth-century Europe: ‘…the whole world…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science’.

In recent years, I have heard certain naive people declaring that ‘the barbarians are at the gates’. They are not at the gates and have not been for a very long time. The barbarians entered long ago and began their long task of expelling Wisdom from the City. Ever since the barbarians have been parading in the City, destroying the walls and opening the gates wide, whenever new forms of barbarianism appeared. Nevertheless, I would end this talk with words of optimism, inherent to all Christians, who know that the last words in history will be Christ’s. As the Emperor Julian the Apostate is reputed to have said on his death-bed, some sixteen hundred years ago: Thou hast conquered, O Galilean…











The other day I went over from Paris and put flowers on a grave in a small, unheard-of town in Brittany, in the hills near Loudeac. It was the first days of autumn, the trees had begun turning colour and there was a slight chill in the early morning and evening air – in northern France the weather always changes after 15 August.

Tante (Aunt) Victorine had been born in the straw on the dirt floor of a cowshed in a hamlet of six houses, which still bore the name of its Breton founder, Brehan, 1300 years later. Literally. The tiny one-floor home-built house had a dining room/kitchen/bedroom on one side and the cow lived on the other side and was sent out to the field during the day. It had changed but little in 1981 when I first met her. Living in Upper (Eastern) Brittany, she spoke not Breton, but ‘Gallo’, the local dialect of French. Or, as the locals will tell you, French is the local (Parisian) dialect of Gallo.

Victorine had been born on 22 November 1918 and inevitably, after the Armistice of 11 November 1918, she had been named Victorine. So many sturdy Breton peasants had gone out to fight the dirty ‘Boches’ and not come back. The Boches were the German enemy of the Paris elite, the elite who had so depised Bretons as ‘yokels’ (‘ploucs’) in peacetime and had banned their language. The victory, after which Victorine had been named, was not that of France, it was the victory of peace for the peasants who had lost many of their best sons fighting against so many of the best sons of Bavarian and Saxon peasants in the futile quagmires and the deadly trenches of World War I.

That was why, like so many women of her generation, Victorine did not marry: there was no-one to marry. Indeed, in 1941 her sister had had a child by a reluctant German soldier who had been forced to join the German Army and had then been sent to patrol the wilds of Brittany. It was the great taboo of the village, but we will leave the condemnation to the sour-faced village pharisees. The illegitimate child, Jean-Pierre, her great-nephew, was my friend.

Victorine did not go to church very often. She did not much like that hard, stony building where hard, stony faces condemned human-beings for loving life. She preferred the hills and streams, woods and fields of God’s Cathedral, where she passed her life, growing vegetables on her patch in the spring, picking fruit in the little orchard in summer and autumn, for eating, cooking, bottling and jam, chopping logs for winter heating, looking after her cow for milk and the best salted butter you have ever tasted, and the pig at the bottom of the garden, that would be slaughtered by the village-slaughterer, our old friend Michel, every December and sold for pork at the village butcher’s.

So Victorine eked out a living. She would have liked to have had a man and children, but it was not to be. She passed away peacefully, a smile on her face, as she went to meet her Maker in November 1989, aged just 71. It had been a hard life, spent in her little house and on its piece of land, whitening her soul, like some early Christian hermit. She had made the best of a life that, on the surface at least, had already in 1914 been wrecked before she had even been born by the war-loving elites of Berlin and Vienna and Paris and London. But if I had to choose between the lives of so many rich, powerful and famous people, I would prefer ten thousand times over to have the life and clear conscience of Tante Victorine. God bless her.

A New Icon: St John of Shanghai and St Alban the First Martyr

Kontakion 5

…preserving thy people on the island from the deadly wind and storm by thy prayer and the sign of the Cross.

Ikos 6

Rejoice, thou who preservest from lies and slander.

Rejoice, destroyer of lies and exalter of truth.

Ikos 8

Rejoice, thou who didst keep Thy faith and courage in the midst of unjust persecution.

Kontakion 8

…thou wast called to the New World to offer there thy witness of ancient Christianity and to suffer persecution for thy righteousness, thus perfecting thy soul for heaven.

From the Akathist to St John, composed by Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina

The very large new icon (see above) which protects our multinational group of parishes within the Romanian Patriarchate, is unique. We ordered it from the Ukraine in January 2022 and would have received it months ago but for the conflict there. It was painted while under attack. The iconographer, who now lives just outside Kiev but comes from Mariupol, fled when she saw a missile flying overhead last March. We had hoped to receive this icon of the 1962 prophecy of St John of Shanghai in time for our patronal feast on 2 July, but we received it a month later.

This prophecy was given to Mother Elizabeth (Ampenova) (+ 1999), Abbess of the Annunciation Convent in London, in November 1962. Archbishop John told her (word for word, as she related to me in June 1994, when I was serving at the Convent): ‘I am leaving now and you will not see me again. I am entrusting you to St Alban, your First-Martyr’.

Our Colchester church, dedicated to St John, was as a military church formerly dedicated to St Alban. The icon, not just for our parish, but for all our parishes, depicts St John handing our church to St Alban.

We shall shortly be making prints of the icon to be distributed.

Glory to Divine Providence which has brought us here despite all the persecutions!



Q and A August 2022

Q: Is the funeral of Metr Kallistos significant? What about the fact that it is taking place in a Catholic church?

A: I think it is significant. It is perhaps the last Pan-Orthodox event to take place in this country. We are turning a page. The old generation, for good and ill, is all but gone. The Orthodox world is now divided and chaotic and will remain so until there is a genuine and free Church Council, unmotivated by geopolitics and manipulations, whether Greek or Russian.

Some more rigid people will say that of course it is taking place in a Roman Catholic church because Metr Kallistos was an ecumenist. However, that for me is not the point. The point is that neither of the little Orthodox chapels in Oxford, neither the Russian, nor the Greek, is anywhere big enough to accommodate even a mere hundred people. Now that is really sad. When will the missionary work start in Oxford, a city of 1,000-2,000 cradle Orthodox and another 100,000 to become Orthodox? There are those in Oxford who think about books, but what we want is churches, basic infrastructure. Are the Orthodox incapable? Do they believe in anything at all, except in tiny ghettos?

Q: Why do Churches die out?

A: Churches die out when they no longer have any spiritual significance. This is clear from the many current examples and it concerns Protestant, Catholic and also Orthodox churches. To have no spiritual significance happens when you swim with the secular tide. Quickly your services become empty ritualism or nationalism (for example, Uniatism) and your teaching becomes moralism (for example, Puritanism). These together create Phariseeism, as with the Old Testament Jews, who were ritualistic, nationalistic (they hated the Samaritans and the Saducees) and moralistic – and who crucified Christ. This decadence of ritualism, nationalism and moralism always precedes the physical closure of church buildings. This is the spiritual law. There are no exceptions. If you become spiritually irrelevant, you will die and enter the dustbin of history, churches, bishops, priests, people.

Q: What is Uniatism?

A: It is Roman Catholicism which attempts, and by definition fails, to imitate the Orthodox Faith. Technically, it may reach a high level of imitation, but it has no spiritual or creative content, only intellectual or emotional content. It has no spontaneity or creative force.

Q: What is the greatest change you have seen in Orthodox practice over the last fifty years?

A: Undoubtedly, it is frequent communion. In the 1970s you were told on no account to take communion more than once a month, at best. A great many at that time still took communion, at most, once a year. Of course, it was this decadence of practice that had created the Russian Revolution and the spread of atheism everywhere. It was precisely the decadence of rare communion that was countered by both St John of Kronstadt and St John of Shanghai, who were in turn both opposed by the formalistic hypocrites, scribes and pharisees of the hierarchy.

Q: I have seen a video of a Russian priest blessing shells and kalashnikovs. Is this real?

A: I have seen the same video. I think it is a fake. However, I have also seen a video of a Ukrainian bishop blessing guns of the Kiev Army. I think that that one too is a fake. However, there is a slight chance it is all true. After all, everything is possible when you commit the idolatry of putting nationalism of any sort above Christ.

Q: Do you think the Russian African Exarchate will be successful?

A: I do not know. The Russian Church now has three Exarchates – in Western Europe, South-East Asia and the new one in Africa. The sign of success will be native European, Asian and African bishops, priests and autonomy. We appear to be very far from that at present. If ‘nativisation’, that is incarnation, does not happen, all these Exarchates will die out as some sort of exotica imposed or allowed for temporary ideological reasons. This was the case in this country, where the Patriarchal presence is now dying out.

At present a lot of African priests have joined the Russian Exarchate there simply because their bishops were absentee landlords. They lived in their villas in Athens and visited their wretched poor flocks once a year, arriving in limousines, like the Greek bishop in the Congo. On the other hand, where there was a good Greek bishop, nobody has left. It is always the same. In Western Europe where the bishop only persecutes his clergy, dreams about pumping money out of poor parishes, buying £400 shoes and bling, people will leave him for a genuine Orthodox bishop.

It is not a question of jurisdiction or nationality, it is simply a matter of whether the bishop behaves as a Christian or as a monster! Of course the Africans left for the Russians in the above cases. If the Russians opened in Israel, the same would happen there and the people would leave the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem for a new Exarchate. On the other hand, there are plenty of Russians who would leave their corrupt Russian bishop if they were sent a genuinely Orthodox Greek bishop.

Q: Do you think the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR will ever recover from the PR disaster of their attitude to the military operation in the Ukraine?

A: Who knows? For the moment it seems highly unlikely. Certainly, the multinational and missionary aspect of the Russian Church has gone out of the window. Many Non-Russians and Russians too have left both the Patriarchal and the ROCOR jurisdictions, at least, in Western Europe. Half the ROCOR Diocese in England ended up under the Romanian Church and has attracted many Ukrainians and Russians, precisely those who reject politics and nationalism and just want to be Orthodox. English people don’t want to attend Russian churches, MP or ROCOR. If I were a Ukrainian, would I want to attend them?

Thank God we, who were granted canonical letters of leave from the Moscow Patriarchate exactly eight days before the events on 24 February 2022 and found a safe refuge in the Romanian Church, are outside all that. It has always been the duty of us pastors (even more it should be of archpastors) to lead the way out of politics and scandals like the Miami one in ROCOR, steering the ship of the church away from all that worldliness to protect the people. Those who do not protect the people will be – and already are – condemned by history.

Q: Do bishops of all Local Churches try and steal property?

A: Absolutely. There were many cases in the USA in the old Russian Metropolia (now the OCA).  Then remember the Greek bishop in Italy who demanded the keys to the Russian churches in Florence and San Remo in 2019 – immediately they left him and he lost everything. The same thing happened in France when the Greek bishop tried to take over the Rue Daru Cathedral. There have also been several cases in Moldova over the last twenty years, which led priests and parishes to join the Romanian Church. There have been Russian cases in the USA elsewhere over the years, where the Russians then lost many valuable properties through their crass mishandling of the situation, as in Amsterdam this year, as with the Brookwood case in England in 2007.

In England alone they lost at least £7.5 million of assets between 2007 and 2022, about 75% of their total assets, to other jurisdictions. If they had only behaved as Christians and not as property-grabbers, all would have been well. Such mismanagement and incompetence are punished by immediate sackings in the corporate world, but not, it seems, in the Church. It is always the same old story, priests are free to do whatever they want if they have no property, but if they have property, then there is greed and they are attacked and slandered on the internet. And this happens throughout the Orthodox world. Fortunately, the guilty are a minority of bishops.

Q: Where can I find the liturgical texts to locally-venerated Western Saints?

A: The complete set of liturgical services for the Western Saints have been in the public domain on the Romanian Orthodox website ‘Orthodoxengland’ website for some 15 years.


Six Months On: The Completely Avoidable Tragedy of the Ukraine and the Curse of Nationalism

‘Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity, but I’m not so sure about the universe’.

Words Attributed to Albert Einstein



We have never had any doubt that the Russian Federation would win militarily in the conflict in the Ukraine, for which eventuality it had carefully prepared for eight long years. (I stress the word ‘militarily’). During that time the West continually poked the bear and then was surprised when the bear’s patience ran out – on 24 February 2022. That does not mean that I approve of anything that has happened in the Ukraine since 2014. I visited different parts of the Ukraine six times between 2014 and 2021 and my many parishioners from all over the Ukraine only confirmed what I had seen.

I could see only too well its immense problems, the corruption which led to an infrastructure, far worse even than that in the oligarch-dominated UK, and the poverty of the masses, making it poorer than many African countries. In this article I take no sides. All wars are huge human tragedies and cannot be approved of. However, I am interested in the truth, not in propaganda, whichever side it comes from. And here, as everywhere and always on this site, without the burden of any careerism I am free to be interested only in the truth and its causes and consequences for Church life.

Introduction: The Tragedy: 2014-2022

After the 2014 US-organised coup d’etat (cost to the US taxpayer = $5 billion, as officially admitted by the US politician Victoria Nuland), one thing was at once obvious. This was that the new Kiev government needed to carry out internationally-observed referenda. Then they could let the various peoples in the Ukraine, with its purely artificial, Soviet-made borders, assigned to it by the atheist monsters Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchov, freely decide which country they wanted to belong to. Any enforcement of the old atheist centralisation from Kiev would, as in Yugoslavia, lead to exactly the same tragedy and war as in Yugoslavia. Both amalgams, Yugoslavia and the Ukraine, were hangovers from the Communist period with their absurd borders, jamming together peoples who had little in common and no desire to live in the same country as one another.

Sadly, the reality is that this current completely avoidable tragedy in the Ukraine is ‘Yugoslavia II’, that is, it the same thing again, only on a far greater and more serious scale. And here, unlike in Serbia, NATO cannot use its air force, for it will be shot down by superior Russian technology, and its army and navy are shut out.  In 2014 an internationally-observed referendum was held in the Crimea, and all went well, with a clear 97% majority choosing to return to Russia, after 60 years of enforced separation from it. However, Kiev itself refused to allow referenda anywhere, including in the Crimea. Therefore, the Kiev government, or rather those behind them who would not allow referenda, are responsible for today’s catastrophic consequences and tens and probably hundreds of thousands of deaths. They have blood, a lot of it, on their hands. What are those consequences?

The Catastrophe: 2022-

  1. Local Consequences: The Human Cost

In 2014 war broke out in the Ukraine, specifically in the Russian-speaking Donbass, whose language and culture were oppressed and mocked by the racist centralisers in Kiev. Up to 14,000 people, including 400 children, were massacred by the Kiev authorities and the other 6 million were told to leave the Ukraine, if they did not like Kiev’s new ‘democracy’. This year, there has been much worse. Six months of conflict have now passed, though it was clear from the beginning, like it or not, that the small Russian expeditionary force had already won in the first few weeks. Their feint to the North, as if to take Kiev, locked up the Kiev military there (the same tactic as the US used in Iraq with a feint from the sea), enabling Russian forces to achieve their aims of conquering much of the Russian-speaking East and take the Russian-speaking South as far as Kherson, where they were greeted by many as liberators. This was what the Russians had openly stated that they intended doing all along, but they had been disbelieved.

Like it or not, the ensuing decision by the USA/West/NATO to send billions of dollars of their weapons, disarming their own troops, to be destroyed by Russian missiles, sometimes before they can even be unpacked (as on 24 February at Borispol Airport), is only prolonging the inevitable defeat and making the bloodshed far worse. So far the Russians and their Allies have lost over 6,000 troops dead, although over the last two months since they took strategic Mariupol, casualties have been very low, as this has largely become a war of satellites, drones, artillery and precision missiles. On the other hand, the Kiev Army has lost some 250,000, at least 60,000 of them killed, and continues to lose many hundreds of ill-trained, ill-equipped and often very young or very old troops almost every day, whether killed, wounded, or by surrender and desertion.

You should not be fighting a modern war when you do not have air superiority. Kiev does not, as most of its air force was destroyed in the first few days. It is a catastrophe and leaves widows and orphans everywhere. Every son killed had a mother and a father, a brother and a sister. The whole country is in bitter mourning. Its population is now down to 30 million. Of 6 million refugees, Russia is the European country that has taken the most, with 2 million fleeing the bankrupt Ukraine. However, 4 million others have left futureless bankruptcy for various countries in Western Europe, over half going to Poland and Germany. It costs the US taxpayer $5 billion every month just to keep the Kiev government afloat, let alone the billions of dollars of destroyed US military equipment.

Unless the 13% of the world, which is all the Western world/G7/NATO is, really wants a nuclear war to annihilate humanity, as Mrs Truss says she does, the West will just have to accept that Russia has taken back the Russian Lands within the former Ukraine. People like Mrs Truss, with her extraordinary ignorance of the basic history and geography of the Ukraine, simply do not realise that this is an existential war for Russia on its doorstep, even though V. Putin explained this quite clearly. Russians will die to win this war to free their brothers and sisters in the East and South of the Ukraine.

However, despite what Mr Johnson has recently proclaimed, no-one in the UK has chosen to pay 400% more for fuel bills, let alone die for the Ukraine, of which country few in the UK had even heard until six months ago. The result of the UK government’s refusal to buy Russian gas and other commodities and to arm the Ukraine, without consulting the electorate, which is not even allowed to elect the next Prime Minister, is soaring inflation, social disruption, strikes and grinding poverty, which will probably topple the UK government in the near future. Here is the difference with Russia. Nobody in the UK wants to suffer, let alone die, for an unknown country.

Local Consequences: What Does the Future Ukraine Look Like?

It looks something like the following – something that could have happened without any bloodshed, had democratic referenda been allowed back in 2014:

The Real Ukraine of Ukrainian speakers, the ‘Kyiv Protectorate’, or whatever it will come to be called, may take 11 demilitarised central and western provinces of the former Soviet Ukraine: Sumy, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Chernihiv, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil. Population: 11.2 million. This will be a landlocked nation, in effect a Second Belarus, with a population of just over a quarter of the 1991 Soviet Ukraine.

Russia may take the 9 Russian-speaking eastern and southern provinces: Lugansk, Donetsk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhe, Kherson, Crimea (Crimea of course already rejoined Russia in 2014), Nikolaev, Odessa. Population: 14.2 million.

Poland may, with Russia’s permission, take back the 3 far western ‘Habsburg’ provinces: Volyn (though a small number in the north of Volyn might want to join Belarus), Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk. Population: 3.2 million. This is the historic ‘Ukraina’ – the word that simply means the borderlands (that are next to Poland). Clearly, this real Ukraine would have to receive some sort of autonomy within the NATO-ruled Polish Republic as a demilitarised buffer-zone.

Hungary may take 1 province: Zakarpattia. Population: 0.85 million. This is providing that its mainly Carpatho-Russian people vote for this by referendum, though, true, many have already accepted Hungarian passports. This region would also have to receive some sort of autonomy within Hungary.

Romania may take 1 province: Chernivtsy. Population: 0.6 million. This is providing that its largely Romanian-speaking people vote for it by referendum, which seems highly likely.

  1. Global Consequences: Western Sanctions Cause Chaos in Western Europe

Why is the Russian campaign taking so long, why did Russia not use 25% or even 50% of its armed forces and take the whole of the Ukraine within a few weeks? Because that is not its strategy. By its own admission Russia has never had any intention of occupying the whole of the Ukraine and its capital Kiev. Therefore, only 5%-10% of the highly professional Russian Armed Forces have been engaged in order to take back the Russian-speaking areas, which were separated from it by Marxist diktat exactly 100 years ago. In any case, most of the fighting is being done by the local anti-Kiev Eastern Ukrainians and Chechen allies, who have suffered most of the casualties.

Then there is no hurry – the Russians want to conserve the lives of their own troops and of Ukrainian civilians and to conserve infrastructure. Time in any case is on the Russian side: their greatest ally is, as is usual in Russia, General Winter. By deliberately stretching the conflict out by agreeing to provide arms ‘until the last Ukrainian is dead’, Western European governments have foolishly fallen into the trap of extending the war into the winter. In this way they will have to suffer a winter with little fuel and face national emergencies, probable popular uprisings and riots and the fall of governments. The West has been completely outwitted – by its own stupidity.

Nowhere in Western Europe is the situation as grim as in the UK. With its privatised utilities, which are in reality unregulated, the law of the jungle prevails. For example the energy price cap imposed by the French government on its State energy monopolies is 4%. In the deregulated UK, prices by January will probably have increased by 400%. This is unsustainable. Expect a universal bill boycott, already started, and food riots. In the UK, Johnson’s words of 25 August, ‘You (note, ‘you’ not ‘we’) must endure to defeat Putin’ do not work. Nobody in the UK voted for this. Moreover, in the ‘democratic’ UK, 160,000 mainly elderly, wealthier people are taking two months just to choose the next Prime Minister, the fourth in six years. The UK used to mock political instability in Italy; it had better look at itself.

Global Consequences: Sanctions and Dedollarisation

Europe’s own anti-Russian sanctions, even though forced on it by the USA, are suicidal. Bankruptcy stares it in the face. The rouble has stabilised at a very healthy 60 to the dollar (before the conflict it was over 90 and briefly went up to 120) and money is flooding into Russian coffers as the whole Non-Western world wants its oil, gas, grain, fertilisers, rare earth metals, not to mention its highly effective arms. They are available to anyone in Western Europe who does not sanction them, as long as they pay for them in the Russian currency. On the other hand, the euro has sunk to parity with, or is even below, the dollar. The conspiracy theorists are even saying that the whole conflict was created by the USA to destroy, not Russia or even the Ukraine, but the EU, notably the German economy. Probably crazy, but actually quite logical.

China, India and indeed over 85% of the world have no sanctions against Russia, indeed they basically support Russia. The West is isolated, with its manufacturing dependent on China, which will soon claim back Taiwan. And Russia and other countries are now insisting on payment for their essential commodities in roubles or in their own currencies. The world economy is being dedollarised – that is a disaster for the USA.

  1. Church Consequences

Now we come to the second half of this article, what interests us most. What are the Church consequences of the conflict in the Ukraine, especially, what is happening to the Russian Orthodox Church, 75% of the whole Orthodox Church? Here the situation is grim indeed. On 25 August the Russian Church was forced to abandon plans for its Patriarch Kyrill, already sanctioned and banned from visiting the UK and Canada, to meet the Pope of Rome in Kazakhstan in September. Centralised Church authorities in Moscow had totally misread the public mood and the proposition had led to a huge scandal.

However, the misreading, or just plain non-understanding of the views of the local Orthodox grassroots, is far more generalised than this mere detail. The authorities of the formerly multinational Russian Orthodox Church has tried to impose the political views of Russia on its multinational flock. The result? Its Non-Russian flock has largely left it. This is a repeat of what happened in the 1920s when the leader of the Church then, Metropolitan Sergius, tried to enforce loyalty to the atheist Soviet State on his flock outside Russia. Result? He lost his flock outside the Soviet Union. We can see exactly the same result, all over again, in many regions of the world. For instance:

a) The Ukraine.

Few can describe the hatred felt by Ukrainians, mostly from central and western Ukraine, for Russia and Russians. They are simply boycotting the churches where the name of Patriarch Kyrill is mentioned. I speak from what I have seen. Even here, for example, Ukrainian refugees come to us and ask who our Patriarch is. When I reply that last February we were issued with letters of leave to quit the Moscow Patriarchate (its Western European Archdiocese) for Patriarch Daniel of Romania because of political persecution, they smile and say they will return to us. They feel at home with us; we are neutral. However, wherever the name Patriarch Kyrill is mentioned in church services, Ukrainian refugees, like many other Ukrainians who have already been here for some time, vote with their feet and leave. Understandably so.

Even Autonomy for the only canonical Orthodox Church in the Ukraine, that which is led by Metropolitan Onufry, is now no longer enough. It is too late. Moscow has totally lost control. It is Autocephaly that has to be granted, exactly as the saintly Serbian Patriarch Porfiry recently granted to the Church of North Macedonia. This simple message has yet to get through to Moscow, but it is a fact. Otherwise, the Ukrainian Church will simply be an empty shell. This need for Autocephaly is not a top-down case of political manoeuvrings by a nationalistic elite who want their ‘own’ National Church to command and control, as was the case of the Protestant Churches in Western Europe (e.g. the Church of England or those in Scandinavia) or the purely political group founded in the Ukraine in 2018 under the Church of Constantinople.  This is a case of the people demanding Autocephaly, it is a ‘down-top’ movement.

b. The Baltic States

Russophobia here is virulent. There are already two Churches in Estonia and there are about to be two in Lithuania because of nationalism and hatred for Russia. The US-sponsored Patriarchate of Constantinople stands behind both breakaway groups in Estonia and Lithuania. It seems to me that at the very least the three Baltic States must have their own Local, Autonomous, if not Autocephalous, Orthodox Church. Only that will stop the schisms. Again the message is clear to everyone, except to Moscow. Does Moscow really think it can weather the storms and hold on?

The situation in Lithuania is especially disastrous, where priests have been defrocked for a purely political disagreement with Moscow. This is an abuse of the canons. As our bishop, Metropolitan Joseph, said to us in a recent conversation, defrocking happens to clergy for moral, financial or criminal reasons, not because the clergy disagree with their bishop about politics or, as missionaries, are defending their churches from predatory and anti-missionary bishops. Nobody in the free Orthodox world recognises political defrockings. They are not only uncanonical, they are anti-canonical. They are particularly ironical, when those who should be defrocked for molesting women parishioners or stealing money from parish funds are not only not defrocked, but receive all manner of awards!

c. Moldova

Already 20% of churches in Moldova have left the Russian Church for the Patriarchate of Romania. The conflict in the Ukraine is making Moldovans shudder. Will we be next? The tiny Russian Transdnestria was of course long ago lost to Moldova, but what about Moldova itself? It seems inevitable that Moscow will lose the remaining 80% of its parishes there to the Romanian Church. Large parts of the Russian Diaspora are also composed of Moldovans, for example some 70 of the 72 Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Italy are Moldovan. Surely they too will leave for the Romanian Church?

Already in England most Moldovans have had to leave the Russian Church because of Slav nationalism and, sadly, a certain corruption. Here too, Russian nationalism appears to have destroyed the Russian Church’s once multinational character, as everywhere in the Western world. One nationalist bishop of the Russian Church in the Diaspora actually said in public: ‘I don’t like Romanians and I only half-like Moldovans’. That seemed to amuse him: it did not amuse the Romanians and Moldovans, or any of the Non-Russians, present. Here there is cause for the suspension of the bishop, if not for his actual defrocking. As far as I know, Christ never commanded us to hate other races.

d. The Western European Exarchate

In 2018 Moscow at last set up a Western European Exarchate, its centre in its brand-new, purpose-built Cathedral and centre in the most prestigious part of Paris, rumoured to have cost 50 million euros. Today, the Exarchate too is shattered, seemingly destroyed by Russian nationalism. Its first head lived in the Cathedral with his wife and child, and had another vice. He was duly sent away. (Though not sent so far as their Bishop Gury in the 1990s, who did something so serious that he ‘had to go’ and freeze in Magadan, opposite the Sea of Japan). The second head, a very politically-minded and very ecumenically-minded and very young man, who has not spent any time in a monastery and who speaks no French and poor English, now lives in Moscow and does administrative things.

Meanwhile, the Moscow Patriarchate Diocese in the UK no longer has a bishop, he is in Moscow. Few even remember who was the last Englishman to be ordained to the Russian Orthodox clergy in the UK. And the Moscow Patriarchate bishop in the Netherlands also seems to have disappeared. He got into great trouble with the Dutch government for threatening the clergy of his huge church in Amsterdam with ‘the Russian Embassy’, because, as Non-Russians, they had expressed purely political disagreement with the conflict in the Ukraine. As a result, the parish and about 70% of the people transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as did a parish in Italy and another in Germany. Frankly, it appears as if the Western European Exarchate had its chance and failed. Does it have any future after the events in the Ukraine? That it might become the foundation to set up a future Western European Orthodox Church, as Patriarch Alexiy II wanted twenty years ago, now sounds like a bad joke. Hopes have been dashed by those who have betrayed their pastoral duties.

e. North America and ROCOR

In the USA the Moscow Patriarchate has also lost its bishop. Its forty or so parishes are left without a leader and, it seems perhaps without any possibility of even survival through new ordinations, let alone expansion. However, in general, all parts of the Orthodox Church in North America are in chaos. The largest group by far, the Greek Archdiocese, is facing scandal and disorder with the probable deposition of its new, highly political and secularising Archbishop Elpidiphoros. The second largest group, the OCA, which has Russian origins, is facing many difficulties, mot least the behaviour of its administration in over-zealously closing churches and persecuting clergy during lockdowns. The third largest group, Antioch, sometimes called ‘The Church of the Four Families’, faces a scandal involving allegations against its Metropolitan Joseph.

The fourth largest group, quite small in fact, a Russian group, ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), faces very embarrassing accusations of defamation, precisely from a Ukrainian priest, Fr Alexander Belya. The US courts will clearly favour him, though they must first justify his allegations to find out if they are true. Several other scandals in the USA involving properties and Russian clergy who have fled it for the Greek Church are also left unanswered. On top of all this, questions have been raised about the use of the electronic signature of the late Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR. He was clearly very ill for quite some time, at least for a year, if not for several years, before his death in May 2022, and yet all manner of very serious documents were being issued in his name by others. His death also leaves his Western Rite group, already dissolved in England, all at sea.

Moreover, ROCOR faces huge difficulties outside the USA. In Western Europe it lost half its English Diocese, 12 clergy, 5,000 people and two million pounds worth of Church buildings, ultimately to the Church of Romania, which canonically received them all, with the blessing of Patriarch Daniel himself. In 2007 they had already lost their only two monasteries in England to an Old Calendarist Church only because their analysis of the degree of the deSovietisation of the Church inside Russia varied with that of their bishop. On top of that, that English diocese then lost another four clergy to various other jurisdictions. Although still (!!) in complete denial of this reality, ROCOR here has now largely become an internet presence. The churches that left it for the Romanian Church are full and growing in clergy and people. Its very few remaining churches are very small. Meanwhile, in Geneva it also faces yet another court case on internal matters concerning administration and very embarrassing sackings, allegedly illegal, involving its appointment of freemasons.

From 1917-1991 ROCOR existed as the free and unpersecuted branch of the Russian Church outside the Soviet Union. After the atheist Soviet Union fell in 1991, and even more after ROCOR’s long-awaited reconciliation with the post-Soviet Russian Church in 2007, many began to question the reason for its continued existence. Some felt that Providence had given it a chance to justify its continued existence as the missionary part of the Russian Church outside Russia. It had the chance to prove itself as such from 2007 to 2017. Then all was still possible. Sadly, it failed to realise its potential and openly abandoned missionary work in whole areas of the world, such as Latin America, Indonesia and most of Western Europe, and instead concentrated on trying to amass money and striving to obtain impossible-to-obtain properties gained by previous unsupported missionary work. It seems as though the once persecuted Church has become the persecuting Church.

At the same time, some of its members turned inwards and selected Trumpism, and not Christ, as their ideology. It was clear that some in ROCOR had lost their way. Having chosen not faith, but a political ideology, and one which fails to work outside narrow US Republican ghettos, and lost most of itself outside North America, ROCOR may now be obliged to retreat to North America and lick its wounds. A well-known Russian Orthodox Metropolitan wrote to me only last week and told me that he does not think that it can survive at all; ROCOR risks becoming an embarrassment to the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia. This is a Church Titanic, of which Fr Alexander Belya is only the tip of the iceberg.

Conclusion: Lose-Lose?

The curse of nationalism has been lose-lose for all who have taken that particular acid bath. The Kiev government has lost by persecuting its own people and playing with several different nationalist and schismatic ‘Glory to the Ukraine churches’ and persecuting its only canonical Glory to God Church. Its false ‘churches’ have not only not created unity, but they have destroyed all remaining unity by persecuting and striving to seize the properties of the canonical Church (more parallels with the situation in the Diaspora). The Church of Constantinople has lost by playing with Greek and then Ukrainian nationalism. Western Europe has lost by playing with European nationalism (its ‘freedom and democracy’ myths) and enforcing Russophobic sanctions to cut off its nose to spite its face. ROCOR has lost by playing with American nationalism, exactly as the much persecuted St John of Shanghai prophesied. And the once multinational Russian Church has lost most of all by betraying its multinational vocation, that very vocation set by Tsar Nicholas II, with Russian nationalism, thus wrecking its multinational reputation. It will not recover from that for at least a generation.

Everyone is a loser. However, Divine Providence can and does make good out of bad. You will see and are already seeing it. Here is the possible end of schisms in the Ukraine and its opportunity, shorn of its Russian territories, to find its true identity and unite around a liberated and demilitarised Kiev. Here is the opportunity for scandal-ridden Constantinople to become a missionary Church, having understood that nobody is interested in a secular-minded, political and racist Church. Here is the opportunity for Europe, including the UK, to make peace with Russia after nearly 1,000 years of hatred based on jealousy and intolerance. Here is the opportunity for the two parts of the Russian Church in North America, the OCA and ROCOR, together with the bishopless Moscow parishes, to unite and love one another, instead of hating one another. (The apparently still unknown commandment of loving one another is to be found in the Gospels). It is all so simple. Here is the opportunity for the Russian Church, having for now lost Europe, to turn to serious missionary work in Asia and in Africa. God always gives opportunities. Sadly, men do not always take them.



An Anglican Academic who became a Bishop of the Church of Constantinople

Timothy, later Father, then Bishop and finally, from 2007, Metropolitan, Kallistos, Ware, was born into a secure British Establishment family in Bath in 1934. His public school education at Westminster provided him with a solid Anglican upbringing. However, in 1952, at the age of 17, he visited the old ROCOR Dormition Cathedral at St Philip’s Church in London – later demolished to make way for Victoria Bus Station. There, as he fell under the spell of impoverished Russian aristocrats and later, briefly encountering the future St John (Maximovich), his interest in the Church deepened.

His family had not been concerned by his hobby until his interests had started to take a more serious turn. This became apparent when, after public school in Westminster, Timothy went to Oxford to study Latin and Ancient Greek (he never formally studied theology and never attended a seminary). At that time, Oxbridge was very much a finishing school for public schoolboys, and still to some extent is. As he related to me in 1974, with pro-Turkish British troops opposed to Greek Cypriot freedom-fighters in the British-occupied colony of Cyprus of the 1950s, his father, a very Establishment Brigadier in the Durham Light Infantry, whom I then met, wondered why his son wished to ‘join the enemy’, that is, the Orthodox Church.

Approaching the ROCOR bishop in London regarding possible reception into the Church, he had been informed that this was not possible. The fact was that, like many other very anxious Russian emigres in that Cold War period, the late Archbishop Nikodim of ROCOR was frightened by the prospect of receiving such a figure, a probable future Oxford don and Anglican bishop, into the Church. He considered that he might be sent back to Soviet Russia in what he thought would be an Establishment punishment.

This may seem strange to us in post-Berlin Wall Britain, but we should not forget that the British government had in 1945 already sent tens of thousands of anti-Communist Russians back to Stalin and often to their deaths. Indeed, the Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had, admittedly quite indirectly, been involved in the forced repatriation, carried out by a former Conservative Prime Minister Antony Eden, at the behest of his father-in-law, another former Conservative Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Those repatriated had included some old emigres from Paris who had been murdered by Stalin’s death squads or else sent to Siberian labour camps. Why should the self-interested Establishment not send back yet one more White Russian, perhaps in exchange for an arrested British spy?

In any case, after taking his degree brilliantly, Timothy Ware spent a year in North America, where he again asked to join the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Here, the then Archbishop Vitaly of Canada, who was very conservative, very strict and also very anti-English, refused him on the grounds that this very Anglican scholar would never become ‘a real Orthodox monk’. Thus, Timothy Ware did not join the Orthodox Church through ROCOR and was unwilling to be received into the then Communist-controlled Moscow Patriarchate. (Indeed, the British Establishment, like all Western Establishments, categorically forbids anyone working for its spy services to join the Russian Orthodox Church; only the Greek Orthodox Church is permitted). Given the unpleasant way the politicking Russians had treated him, what loyalty could he feel towards them?

Eventually, in 1958 Timothy Ware found a typically Anglican compromise in the Establishment manner: he was received into the Orthodox Church through the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After all, he did know Ancient Greek, but did not know Russian. In any case, Establishment Anglo-Catholics had always been rather Russophobic, as the British governing clique had mistakenly viewed Russia as a rival in what Russophobic Victorian imperialists like Palmerston and Disraeli imaginatively called ‘The Great Game’. The Moscow Patriarchate was in British eyes tainted with Communism. Therefore, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with its connections through the British Royal Family, for example the late freemason Prince Philip, and populated in Britain mainly by Commonwealth Cypriots, was the ideal compromise for Anglicans of an Establishment background.

Having obtained his doctorate in Oxford, Timothy Ware wrote his book, ‘The Orthodox Church’, which appeared in 1963. This now seems to be a very dated and naïve work. It was a view of the Orthodox Church as seen through the eyes of an Anglican academic, written like a British civil servant’s report in public school style. Its scholastic approach was that of an outsider, who knew the theory of Orthodoxy, but did not know the practice. Nevertheless, we should remember that at that time there was very little for outsiders on the Orthodox Church in the English language at all. The book was a Godsend to educated Anglicans and other potential converts and although later updated editions attracted criticism from inside the Church, it is still a very convenient reference book.

In 1966 the late Archbishop Athenagoras of the Greek Thyateira Archdiocese in London ordained Timothy to the diaconate and very quickly to the priesthood. His Greek name Timothy was transformed into the Greek name Kallistos (definitely not to be written in the Latin way, Callistus, as the then Fr Kallistos told me with a wry smile in 1975), so that this very Anglican figure would at least superficially be hellenised. Fr Kallistos, now an Oxford don a kind of advanced-level schoolmaster, had also become a nominal monk on Patmos, where he later told me that the Abbot and himself were the only two monks out of twenty who did not smoke. Such were those times in the Church.

Now Fr Kallistos served the Greek parish in Oxford. However, in reality, a unique situation had developed, built around the personality of Fr Kallistos, who would have preferred to be received into the then Russian Paris Exarchate under Constantinople (‘Rue Daru’). However, this was not allowed any jurisdiction in England then. The small Oxford community was then the combination of the Greek and Russian ‘Patriarchal’ parishes in one building.

In actual fact, Fr Kallistos was very much serving in the Russian parish, but under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This was possible because the Russian parish, officially in the Sourozh Diocese, was in fact a strange amalgam of Paris Russians, who in reality did not want to be under the real Moscow Patriarchate or ROCOR. ROCOR parishioners went up to London. Genuine Patriarchal parishioners looked elsewhere and complained, patiently waiting for better times and a new, non-Parisian bishop.

In 1973 there opened in Oxford the curious, rather Methodist-looking, Greek Orthodox chapel. In effect, this was a double parish, the canonicity of which was doubted by many Orthodox bishops at the time. The late Metropolitan Antony Bloom himself informed me in the late 1970s that he regretted his decision to allow this and that he would never allow it again. Indeed, as we know, this whole experiment ended in tears some thirty years later.

At the same time as being a Greek Orthodox priest, with the blessing of Metropolitan Philaret Fr Kallistos also served at the ROCOR Convent in London. At that time the Patriarchate of Constantinople had not yet broken off communion with ROCOR and vice versa. This situation continued until 1976, when the Patriarchate of Constantinople finally did break off communion with ROCOR, following the storm over ‘The Thyateira Confession’, written by the late Archbishop Athenagoras. This compendium of diplomatic and syncretistic nonsense, so beloved of Greek-American clerics of the 1960s was largely ignored by other Orthodox. They realised that it was just another example of Phanariot diplomacy, certainly not to be taken seriously, and they waited for it to be pulped.

Unfortunately, some converts to ROCOR, nearly all ex-Anglicans, did take this book literally and had themselves uncanonically rebaptised. These caused a great storm with extremists, mainly Protestant converts, who were supported by CIA-financed, right-wing elements then trying to usurp control from the saintly but extremely naive Metropolitan Philaret and the ROCOR Synod in New York. The danger of this Greek old calendarist mentality inside ROCOR with its censorious, neophyte attitudes and rebaptisms had already been discerned by the ever-memorable Fr George Sheremetiev of the ROCOR Cathedral in London.

Fr George had been Fr Kallistos’ confessor until his death in 1971 and had told Fr Kallistos not to join this new American, Old Calendarist, convert ROCOR. Had Fr Kallistos lived in Europe, I think he might have joined ROCOR there under the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was faithful to the old ROCOR and ferociously resisted crazy convert Americanisation and its sectarian spirit. Fr Kallistos had no time for the new ROCOR with its censoriousness, politicking and compete lack of understanding of English culture.

As a literal-minded ex-Anglican, Fr Kallistos, ensconced in Oxford donmanship, also took the Thyateira Confession seriously and asked to be received into the peculiar, personality-driven Sourozh Diocese. Typically, Metropolitan Antony Bloom, at that time was himself petitioning to be received into ROCOR after the Solzhenitsyn affair. This was when Moscow Patriarchal representatives had been taken hostage and were forced to support the atheist Soviet government against Solzhenitsyn. Metr Antony, his British passport in his pocket, resisted his own hierarchy but found himself punished by it.

Metr Antony was refused by ROCOR for very good canonical reasons (which we will not go into here, that is another sad story to be related in the future) and he refused to receive Fr Kallistos. Thus, the naïve Fr Kallistos remained under Constantinople. This was the turning-point. Had he joined the Sourozh Diocese of the Russian Church, perhaps he would with time have become its diocesan bishop after the death of Metropolitan Antony Bloom. On this he could perhaps have steered that diocese back to normality, instead of which it divided itself in a bitter schism and later fell into nationalism. Again, that is yet another sad story to be related in the future.

Now, half-way through his life, Fr Kallistos was transformed into a liberal Phanariot. He found outlets for his energies in academic work and his academic love for the Church Fathers and setting up the Greek Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist. In time this became a fellowship for the three jurisdictions of Anglican converts, in Antioch, in the ex-Sourozh group and in the Greek Archdiocese. Realizing that they might lose their illustrious convert, the Phanar in Constantinople took fright at the above events and decided to consecrate Fr Kallistos to the episcopate. In this way, as a vicar-bishop, he would effectively be theirs. Fr Kallistos had refused consecration twice, but in 1982 finally accepted, becoming the titular bishop of a village in Turkey called Diokleia.

As the years passed, the titular Bishop Kallistos, unable to ordain without the blessing of the Thyateira Archbishops, turned increasingly to the safe isolation of academic work and public relations with Non-Orthodox. Pastoral activities were limited to the scholarly sort, mainly with ex-Anglicans. With these in mind, he also wrote for converts on pastoral, historical and academic themes, such as those in ‘The Orthodox Way’. In later years he also began ordaining ex-Anglican vicars to serve in the then Antiochian Deanery, created for them by the Antiochian Church.

It is most regrettable that the only liturgical translations carried out by Bishop Kallistos were those of the 1970s. I am referring to his brilliant co-translation of ‘The Lenten Triodion’ and his excellent editing of the translations of the Sunday Octoechos. If only he had translated or edited the Pentecostarion, the Menaia and other liturgical books as well, we would through him have had a stock of more or less definitive liturgical English-language translations of the Orthodox liturgical books, translated by him, instead of the very peculiar American convert translations, which all have to be thoroughly Englished. It is clear that Metr Kallistos’ gifts in this domain were extraordinary. On the one hand he had a brilliant grasp of liturgical English, on the other hand he had a brilliant understanding of Byzantine Greek and Ancient Greek as well as of Orthodox academic theology. His translations were far, far better than any others.

Instead of liturgical translation, the idealistic Bishop Kallistos, supervised others, the ROCOR layman and ex-MP, George Palmer, and the former Platonist philosopher Philip Sherrard, in their translation of the Philokalia (except for the fifth and last volume, as both translators had died by then). The English-speaking Orthodox world owes a great debt to Metr Kallistos and especially his colleagues for these translations. In the late 1990s St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, searching for liberal academic writers, began to publish Bp Kallistos’ collected writings, which by now had accumulated. An agreement was made and his writings for converts duly appeared under the unusual, almost Buddhist-sounding title of ‘The Inner Kingdom’.

A scholarly speaker on the academic circuits, Bishop Kallistos was appreciated in many places, not least in the then Paris Exarchate (which was dissolved in 2019). A fluent French speaker, Bp Kallistos was a close friend of the late ecumenist Fr Boris Bobrinskoy. Jesuit-educated, the latter was notorious for having celebrated the Liturgy with the filioque, ‘so as not to offend the Catholics’.

The titular Metropolitan Kallistos, beloved by tiny groups of converts and rather upper-class English intellectuals, rather hostile to Irish and Scots in the old Anglican way, completely unknown to the masses of ordinary Orthodox who fill our parishes, was the most distinguished Anglican convert of his generation. Understanding Anglicans very well, in later years Metropolitan Kallistos helped build the Anglican-Orthodox group in the Antiochian Deanery. Very much a bridge-figure, who stood between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy, not giving up his Establishment culture or the branch theory, he helped many Anglicans to ease themselves into a version of Orthodoxy on the convert fringes of the Church. And some of these did later move on from this first course to the main course – the understanding and practice of Orthodoxy.

In 1977, the then chaplain of Keble College Oxford told me that in his view Fr Kallistos was merely ‘a High Anglican who had gone over the top’. Of course, Fr Kallistos’ manner of celebration and intonations (inherited from his mother) were deeply Anglo-Catholic, but later, as a Greek bishop, he also became somewhat hellenised and many missed the old Fr Kallistos, whom they did not find in his later Phanariotism. But the remark of the chaplain and others similar to it overlooked the fact that Metropolitan Kallistos selflessly helped fellow Anglicans and others reach out towards Orthodoxy and he was a most brilliant translator. And it must be said that he was at least prepared to talk to both ‘foreigners’ and to English, especially Anglican, people who were not of his own social background.

The death of his beloved mother (who had joined the Church adopted by her son) in 2000 was very painful for Bishop Kallistos. In 2011 he told me that he had no longer wanted to live and had asked God to take him then. The 2006 Amphipolis (ex-Sourozh) split caused Metr Kallistos huge pain, making much that he had worked for seem to be in vain. Some may say that he had always laboured under illusions and compromise and that his work would fail, being built on false premises, that of building an Anglican Orthodoxy. This seems uncharitable. Such a view overlooks his efforts to make Orthodoxy known to academics and the fact that in his generation even joining the Orthodox Church, let alone actually becoming Orthodox, was in itself a huge difficulty for someone from his deeply Anglican background.

Metr Kallistos was much pained by the recent and totally unnecessary schism between feuding Greeks and Russians after the uncanonical intervention in the Ukraine by his own Patriarchate of Constantinople and its invention of yet another Ukrainian ‘Church’. He openly criticised Patriarch Bartholomew for this, which is perhaps why he has largely been gnored by them since. However, Metr Kallistos also believed that the Russian Church had over-reacted by forbidding concelebration with Constantinople and then intervening in the affairs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Africa. All his life he had worked for Orthodox unity. What a huge disillusionment Greek and Russian political infighting was for him, as indeed for all Orthodox. Both were in the wrong, obsessed with their nationalism. Disunity was his lot. The end of his life, however, was marked by his taking communion from Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Moscow Patriarchate, rather than from the American Phanariots.

Metr Kallistos was an Anglican convert, one of a generation which is dying out and which had a very Anglican view of Orthodoxy, which rather shocked the naive. That old Anglican Orthodoxy, with its interest in studying theeology, is now all but gone, really together with old-style Anglicanism, which hardly exists any more. I can remember Metr Kallistos telling me with regret some fifteen years ago that he had been to the Russian Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens, but ‘I did not see anyone I knew, just young Russians’. We Orthodox rejoiced that we saw the Cathedral full of young Orthodox; to him the passing of the old, Edwardian-style, old-school (like him) emigres was a matter of regret.

However, in a generation of decadence among many senior Orthodox clergy, Metropolitan Kallistos stood out from the uninspired political appointees, faithless bureaucrats, ruthless careerists, cowardly diplomats, secular failures, moral degenerates, heartless narcissists, anti-canonical powerbrokers, underhand politicos, blind nationalists, blinded freemasons and fraudulent charlatans who characterised a good part of the Orthodox episcopate in the Diaspora (we have known them all and have suffered from them all).

Metr Kallistos was much criticised in some quarters for his liberalism, ecumenism and apparent, quasi-Anglican sympathies for women clergy and even perhaps for homosexual marriage. This seems a bit harsh. However, it is true that although he was beloved by Anglican converts, Metropolitan Kallistos was less appreciated by Non-Anglicans and those with roots in Orthodoxy. Indeed his colleague, Metropolitan Polykarpos in Spain, like many others, always referred to him as ‘o anglikanos’, ‘the Anglican’.  Metropolitan Kallistos was also criticised by some for not standing up for Orthodoxy and instead always choosing woolly compromises in the Anglican way. That too is a bit harsh. I would defend his well-meaningness.

Indeed, Metropolitan Kallistos was a very sincere, kind and honest man, a naïve, Anglican academic with all the illusions of the unworldly, public school gentleman. As such, he will be remembered with fondness and regret. You will not see his kind again. Personally, I shall recall him with great nostalgia. He stood head and shoulders above many. Let those without sin cast the first stone. Pray for the repose of his soul, as it passed into eternal life today.

To His Grace Metropolitan Kallistos – Eternal Memory!

24 August 2022

Note: Metr Kallistos’ funeral will take place in a Roman Catholic church, as both the Greek and Russian chapels in Oxford are far too small to accommodate those who will wish to attend.