Daily Archives: August 31, 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 A historical document known as ‘The Norfolk Roll’ refers to the foundation of a Priory of ‘Augustinian Friars’ in Little Walsingham in 1130-1131, and precisely by a widow called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.