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One Hundred and Twelve Saints of the English Thebaid

Introduction: The Fen Thebaid

The first great monastic site in history developed in the fourth century in the province of Thebes in Egypt and here thousand of monks and hermits lived the monastic life. Hence the word Thebaid can be used to describe a region inhabited by monastics not only in Egypt, for example, in Ireland (The Irish Thebaid), on Mt Athos (The Athonite Thebaid), in the wild forests of Russia (The Northern Thebaid), and in this case in the English Fens (The English Thebaid). Here there lived at least one hundred and twelve saints.

Fen is a common word of Germanic origin which means marshland. English place-names like Fenton, Fenchurch and Vange are all formed from this word. The well-known former marshland region called the Fens, or the Fenlands, is a very low-lying plain in eastern England around the coast of the Wash. It is constituted by almost all of Cambridgeshire, together with western Norfolk and southern Lincolnshire. In early English times these then wild and undrained marshlands represented a no-man’s land between East Anglia to the east and the East Midlands (East Mercia) to the west. Indeed, in the seventh century the Fens were very sparsely populated, attracting outcasts, some of British origin who gave their name to the town of Chatteris, who lived off fishing and wildfowling.

Altogether covering an area of about 1,500 sq mi (4,000 km2), the Fens were once characterized by at least six shallow but large lakes, called meres (e.g. Soham Mere, Whittlesey Mere, drained only in 1851), shores, called bech or beach (e.g. Holbeach, Landbeach, Waterbeach, Wisbech), streams (called ‘wells’), bridges and islands. Island sites are indicated by place-names ending in -y (e.g. Ely), -ey (e.g. Bodsey, Coveney, Higney, Ramsey, Thorney, Stuntney, Whittlesey) and -ea (e.g. Eastrea, Horningsea, Manea, Stonea).

Most of the Fens were drained only in the seventeenth century, though some more viable parts much earlier, even in Roman times, resulting in a flat, low-lying agricultural region. The drained Fens depend on a system of drainage channels and man-made rivers (dykes and drains) and pumping stations. With the support of this drainage system, the very fertile Fens became a major agricultural region.

The Fen Saints

In the early Christian (Orthodox) period of pre-Norman (English) England, monks and nuns sought the isolation for prayer and ascetic life that could be found in the marshy and impassable wilderness of the Fens. Their hermitages on Fen islands became centres of monastic life, disrupted by Danish pagan raids, but revived by the mid-10th-century monastic revival. After 1066 these refounded communities developed as big businesses with large estates and huge income.

Thus, the gravel islands of the undrained Fens were once awash with hermits, holy men and women, who strove to emulate Christ’s fasting in the desert. For example: St Audrey settled in ‘Cratendune’ before founding Ely; St Guthlac and his disciples occupied Crowland; Peakirk was home to his sister St Pega; Thorney was settled by the siblings, Tancred Torhtred and Tova, who were martyred by the Danes in 870.

These, and the retreats of lowlier anchorites, such as Boda of Bodsey, Godric and Throcken of Throckenholt, Edwin of Higney and the anonymous hermits of Singlehole on the former island of Eye near Peterborough, were destined to be transformed into rich farms by greedy post-Conquest abbots. They began to colonize the fenland on the edge of their domains and had no interest in the ascetic life and unceasing prayer, just the opposite.

Thus the Fens have been referred to as the ‘Holy Land of the English’ because of these monasteries, especially the so-called ‘Fen Five’: Ely, Crowland, Peterborough, Ramsey and Thorney.  Even after the final fall of Orthodox England in 1066, the Fens later remained a place of refuge and resistance and it was here that the English hero Hereward the Wake based his liberation movement against the illegitimate and greedy Norman invaders, usurpers and occupiers.

St Felix, St Audrey and Ely

The founder of Fen Orthodoxy was effectively St Felix (+ 647), the Apostle of East Anglia. Coming from the east, Suffolk and Norfolk which he evangelized, he founded a monastery on the very eastern edge of the fens. This was in Soham (now in Cambridgeshire), once famous for its mere, but which was drained some 300 years ago. He baptised and became the spiritual father of at least four and possibly six, sainted daughters of the East Anglian King Anna, among them St Audrey of Ely (c. 636-679) and St Seaxburh of Ely, who had been born in Exning in west Suffolk, not far from Soham. After his repose St Felix’ relics long remained in Soham.

As an East Anglian Princess, St Audrey (the spelling of her name Ethelthryth was more or less pronounced ‘Eltry’ (Audrey) already in the seventh century) founded the double monastery in Ely (now in Cambridgeshire and only 14 miles to the north of Cambridge) in 673. Though married twice for purely dynastic reasons she had remained a virgin. As a young woman, she had lived almost as a nun on the Isle of Ely, as this was her own land, which she had received as her dowry and added to the Kingdom of East Anglia. St Bede the Venerable who recorded her life in detail relates how after her repose her incorrupt relics worked many miracles.

St Seaxburh (c. + 699), St Audrey’s sister and successor, had been married for real and been Queen of Kent. Both her daughters became saints. Once widowed she became a nun under St Theodore of Canterbury, founded convents and became an abbess in Kent. Following her sister’s repose she returned to her native East Anglia and became Abbess of Ely, devoted to her sister’s memory. She was succeeded as abbess by her daughter St Eormenhild (early 8 c.), who was in turn succeeded by her daughter, St Werburgh (8 c.).

Around Ely there formed a group of hermits and hermitesses. These included:

St Owin (+ 672), St Audrey’s monastic steward and a very practical man, lived in Ely and on an island in Haddenham near Ely, but later became a monk in Lichfield under St Chad.

St Huna (+ 690) was a priest-monk and the chaplain of St Audrey and also buried her. After her repose, he left Ely to live as a hermit on an island, later known as Honey Hill or Honey Farm, located just outside the town of Chatteris in Cambridgeshire. St Huna was considered a holy man and his grave on the small island was known for healings and miracles. Later St Huna’s relics were translated from Chatteris to Thorney, also in Cambridgeshire, at the time more a collection of hermits’ cells than a monastery, just as in Egypt.

St Wendreda (correctly Wendreth – late 7 c.) lived in March (Cambridgeshire). She may have been a sister of St Audrey and have grown up in Exning, where there seems to have been a holy well named after her. She became a nun on an island in what is now March (meaning the borderlands), where now stands a medieval church dedicated to her. She excelled in healing sick people and animals. Here she may well have become an abbess and she remains the patroness of the town to this day.

St Guthlac and Crowland

St Guthlac (673-714) was the English St Antony the Great and lived as a Desert Father in the Fens. He has a detailed life, written soon after he reposed by a monk Felix. He was the son of a noble of the English Kingdom of Mercia (The Midlands) and as a young man fought in the Mercian army. Aged 24, he then became a monk at Repton in Derbyshire in the East Midlands. Two years later he sought to live the life of a hermit, and comforted by St Bartholomew, in 699 he moved out to the island of Crowland (meaning the hump land) just over the border from Cambridgeshire in Lincolnshire. This was to become the second great centre of Fen holiness after Ely. Guthlac built a small chapel and cells on the site of a plundered barrow on the island and lived there until his repose on 11 April 714. Felix, writing within living memory of Guthlac, described his hermit’s life:

Now there was in the said island a mound built of clods of earth which greedy comers to the waste had dug open, in the hope of finding treasure there; in the side of this there seemed to be a sort of cistern, and in this Guthlac the man of blessed memory began to dwell, after building a hut over it. From the time when he first inhabited this hermitage this was his unalterable rule of life: namely to wear neither wool nor linen garments nor any other sort of soft material, but he spent the whole of his solitary life wearing garments made of skins. So great indeed was the abstinence of his daily life that from the time when he began to inhabit the desert he ate no food of any kind except that after sunset he took a scrap of barley bread and a small cup of muddy water. For when the sun reached its western limits, then he thankfully tasted some little provision for the needs of this mortal life.

His ascetic life became the talk of the land and many visited him during his life to seek spiritual guidance from him as an elder. He gave sanctuary to Ethelbald, future King of Mercia, who was fleeing from his cousin. Guthlac foretold that Ethelbald would become King and Ethelbald promised to build a monastery if his prophecy turned out to be true. Ethelbald did become King and, even though Guthlac had reposed two years previously, he kept his word and started building the monastery in Crowland on St Bartholomew’s Day 716.

His eighth-century life describes the entry of the demons into Guthlac’s cell:

They were ferocious in appearance, terrible in shape with great heads, long necks, thin faces, yellow complexions, filthy beards, shaggy ears, wild foreheads, fierce eyes, foul mouths, horses’ teeth, throats vomiting flames, twisted jaws, thick lips, strident voices, singed hair, fat cheeks, pigeons’ breasts, scabby thighs, knotty knees, crooked legs, swollen ankles, splay feet, spreading mouths, raucous cries. For they grew so terrible to hear with their mighty shriekings that they filled almost the whole intervening space between earth and heaven with their discordant bellowings.

Felix records Guthlac’s foreknowledge of his own death, conversing with angels in his last days. At the moment of death a sweet nectar-like fragrance came out of his mouth, as his soul left his body in a ray of light, while angels sang. Guthlac had asked that his sister St Pega be present at his funeral. Arriving the day after his repose, she found the island of Crowland filled with the scent of ambrosia. She buried his body on the mound after three days of prayer. A year later Pega had a divine calling to move the tomb and relics to a nearby chapel: Guthlac’s body was discovered incorrupt, his shroud shining with light. Of his disciples we can mention:

This St Pega of Peakirk (c. 673-719) was an anchoress in what is now the tiny village of Peakirk (‘Pega’s church’) near Peterborough, not far from St Guthlac’s hermitage. As we have said, when Guthlac had realized that his end was near in 714, he invited her to his funeral. For this she sailed down the River Welland, healing a blind man from Wisbech on the way. She may have reposed in Rome. True or not, it is said that her heart was kept in Peakirk as a relic in the church, contained in a heart stone, the broken remains of which, smashed by Cromwell’s blasphemous vandals, can be seen there.

Sts Bettelin (early 8th c.) was a disciple of Saint Guthlac and hermit who lived an ascetic life of unceasing prayer, received counsel from his elder on his deathbed and was present at his burial. After the death of Guthlac, St Bettelin and his companions continued to live in Crowland.

St Cissa (early 8th c.) was also a disciple of St Guthlac and became an Abbot of Crowland. His tomb was placed next to St Guthlac’s and like it this was also destroyed by the Danes. His relics were translated to the nearby monastery of Thorney in the tenth century.

The Fen Martyrs

When the Danes attacked East Anglia and the Fens in the ninth century, they martyred the East Anglian King, St Edmund (+ 869) in Hoxne in Suffolk and at least one hundred others. These included:

Abbot Theodore of Crowland Monastery in Lincolnshire and with him Ethelred, Askega, Swethin, Elfgete, Sabinus, Egdred, Ulric, Grimkeld, Agamund and other monks (+ c. 869).

Abbot Hedda with eighty-four monks of Peterborough Monastery in Cambridgeshire, founded in 655, whose site is now occupied by the twelfth-century Peterborough Cathedral (+ c. 869). St Hedda’s ‘shrine-stone’ survives in Peterborough Cathedral.

The hermits Tancred, Torhtred and the anchoress Tova, three siblings, were martyred near Thorney Monastery in Cambridgeshire (+ c. 870).

Conclusion: Academia or Holiness

The Fens, the majority of which lie in Cambridgeshire, were once notable for the port of Cambridge, by the bridge over the River Cam. Situated at their southern limit, this location on the river by a bridge was the very reason for Cambridge’s existence. However, as we know, Cambridge has for centuries no longer been a port and rather became famed as a University, as a centre of rationalistic thinking and brainpower. In this way it opposed itself to the ascetic life of the Saints of the Fen Thebaid to the north. What a witness it would be if there were once more an Orthodox church in the Fens, expressing our veneration not of rationalism, but of asceticism, not of scientists, but of ascetic fendwellers, not of brainpower but of spiritpower. May God’s Will be done.

 

 

 

The Remaining Holy Relics of the Native Saints of Great Britain

At the Reformation most holy relics in Great Britain were destroyed by fanatics or else taken abroad, only a few survived. However, some have been returned in the modern era. Below the writer Dmitry Lapa has compiled a list of the saints whose relics are still present (though sometimes concealed):

St. Alban (his shoulder bone was returned to St. Albans Cathedral, Herts, from Cologne in 2002);

St. Audrey of Ely (Etheldreda) (her incorrupt hand is available for veneration in the RC church in Ely, Cambs and a particle of her relics is in St. Etheldreda’s RC Church in Ely Place, London);

St. Augustine of Canterbury (a particle of his relics is in St John’s Orthodox Church in Colchester and another in St. Augustine’s RC Church in Ramsgate, Kent);

St. Bede of Jarrow (his tomb with relics has been preserved in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral since the eleventh century and not destroyed by the iconoclasts because his authority as a historian was great; a particle of his relics is also in St John’s Orthodox Church in Colchester);

St. Birinus of Wessex (a portion of his relics is believed to rest in Dorchester-on-Thames Abbey, Oxon where miracles occur, and some in Winchester Cathedral, though concealed);

St. Boniface of Germany (two relics of the saint and a piece of his tomb were  brought to his birthplace in Crediton, Devon, from Fulda in Germany not long ago and placed in the local RC church; another particle of his relics is housed in All Saints’ Church in Brixworth, Northants);

St. Chad of Lichfield (several of his relics are venerated in the RC Cathedral in Birmingham);

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (his shrine was buried under the floor of Durham Cathedral at the Reformation and elevated again in the nineteenth century, his relics as well as some personal relics survive and miracles occur; a particle of his relics is also in St John’s Orthodox Church in Colchester);

St. David of Mynyw and St. Justinian of Ramsey (what is believed to be their relics rest in the restored shrine of St. Davids Cathedral, Wales);

St. Eanswythe of Folkestone (her reliquary was uncovered during building work in 1885 in Folkestone church);

St. Edmund of East Anglia (a small particle of his relics is available for veneration in the RC church in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk; his supposed major relics were returned to England from France in 1901 and rest in a reliquary in the Fitzalan Side-Chapel of Arundel Castle in West Sussex);

St. Edward the Martyr (his relics were discovered by an amateur archaeologist, J. Wilson-Claridge, among the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey in Dorset and are sometimes available for veneration at St. Edward’s Brotherhood in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey);

St. Frideswide of Oxford (her relics were mixed with the bones of a woman and buried under the floor of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford after the Reformation; a couple of years ago somebody’s remains were found under the floor during repair work—some of them are believed to be St. Frideswide’s; their whereabouts are unknown: some say they were soon reburied either under the saint’s restored shrine or under her symbolic gravestone, and others say they were even interred in a local church graveyard);

St. Hedda of Winchester (his relics are in Winchester Cathedral, albeit hidden after the Reformation and the exact location is unknown);

St. Hibald of Lindsey (his supposed tomb with relics was discovered under the chancel floor in the church in Hibaldstow, Lincs, in 1866);

St. John of Beverley (his relics were hidden during the Reformation under the floor of Beverley Minster in East Riding of Yorkshire; today his grave is marked there and miracles occur);

St. Kentigern Mungo (his relics most likely lie in the tomb of the lower crypt of Glasgow Cathedral);

St. Melangell (the ancient bones of a woman, most likely Melangell,  were discovered in the former apse of the church in Pennant Melangell in Powys, Wales, during a 1958 restoration project and later placed in the reconstructed shrine; miracles occur all year round);

St. Mildred of Thanet (in 1953 a portion of her relics, which for centuries had been kept in Deventer, Holland, was returned to England and enshrined in Minster Convent in Kent);

St. Swithin of Winchester (his relics were hidden during the Reformation and are still in Winchester Cathedral under the floor, somewhere near his former shrine);

St. Teilo of Llandeilo (his supposed head relic is kept in the chapel which bears his name in a specially constructed reliquary in Llandaff Cathedral in Wales);

St. Tewdrig, King of Glywysing and Martyr (his coffin with relics was rediscovered in the seventeenth century by the Bishop of Llandaff at St. Tewdrig’s Church in Mathern, Monmouthshire);

St. Urith (it can be said with high degree of certainty that her relics still lie under the church floor in Chittlehampton, Devon, a long way below the slab that covers them);

St. Winefride of Holywell (her finger-relic is kept in the RC Cathedral in Shrewsbury, Salop, and another particle of her relics belongs to Catholics in Holywell, Anglesey);

St. Wite (still intact in the church in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset).

There are other places, where according to tradition saints’ relics may still be present. Among them are:

St. Bertram (Holy Cross Church in Ilam, Staffs);

St. Eata (the crypt of Hexham Abbey, Northumb.);

St. Oswald of Worcester and York (Worcester Cathedral);

St. Wilfrid of York (either Canterbury Cathedral or Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire);

Sts. Oswald of Northumbria and Hilda of Whitby (Durham Cathedral);

Those of some of the holy archbishops of Canterbury (buried around St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, where their grave markers survive).

The supposed relics of St. Alfred the Great and St. Edburgh of Bicester have also been under investigation lately, but results are inconclusive.

 

 

 

 

Martyrs Under the Danes

The ninth-century Danish invasions of England produced a host of martyrs for Christ. As a result of the Viking incursions, monastic life in England and in other parts of Britain was virtually wiped out. Moreover, the Danish pirates returned in the late tenth century after the murder of St. Edward the Martyr and continued their ravages and carnage. The following martyrs laid down their lives for Christ over that period (compiled by Dmitry Lapa):

St. Alkelda, a princess who chose to become a nun and anchoress in Yorkshire but was strangled by two Danish women during one of the first raids (+ c. 867; feast: March 28; the church in Middleham in North Yorkshire is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Alkelda, whose supposed coffin with the relics was discovered under the church floor in 1878; local healing wells and another church, in Giggleswick, bear her name too);

St. Ymar, a monk of the monastery in Reculver in Kent, who was slain by the Danes in 830 (feast: November 12);

Abbot Beocca, Hieromonk Ethor and with them ninety monks of Chertsey Monastery in Surrey, now on the outskirts of London (+ c. 869; feast: April 10; a modern Orthodox service to the Martyrs of Chertsey exists);

Abbot Theodore of Crowland Monastery in Lincolnshire and with him Ethelred, Askega, Swethin, Elfgete, Sabinus, Egdred, Ulric, Grimkeld, Agamund and other monks (+ c. 869; feast: April 9);

Abbess Ebbe (Aebbe) the Younger together with her nuns in Coldingham Convent in what is now the Scottish Borders region of southern Scotland, which then belonged to the English kingdom of Northumbria (+ c. 870; feast: August 23; a contemporary Orthodox service to St. Ebbe exists);

Abbot Hedda with eighty-four monks of Peterborough Monastery in Cambridgeshire, founded in 655 and whose site is now occupied by the twelfth-century Peterborough Cathedral of Sts. Peter, Paul and Andrew (+ c. 869; feast: April 9; St. Hedda’s “shrine-stone”, which resembles a medieval reliquary but without a cavity in it, survives in Peterborough Cathedral);

The hermits Tancred, Torthred and the anchoress Tova, three siblings, were martyred near Thorney Monastery in Cambridgeshire, in the Fens (+ c. 870; feast: September 30; Thorney Monastery was refounded by St. Ethelwold of Winchester in the tenth century);

Bishop Herefrith of the province of Lindsey in what is now Lincolnshire, was most probably slain on the site of the town of Louth (+ c. 869; feast: February 27; his relics were translated to Thorney);

St. Fremund, a Mercian English prince who chose to live as a hermit on an island in prayer but was murdered by the Danes (+ c. 866; feast: May 11; his relics were kept in Offchurch in Warwickshire, then in Prescote in Oxfordshire, and finally in the village of Cropredy in the same county, and a portion of them was later translated to Dunstable Priory in Bedfordshire, and numerous miracles occurred);

St. Edmund, King of East Anglia, was martyred by the Danes in 869 and venerated both as a martyr for Christ and as a righteous king of holy life (feast: November 20; he is the first patron-saint of England);

St. Ragener, a soldier-martyr and probably St. Edmund’s nephew, slain in Northampton in about 870 (feast: November 21; his relics were discovered in St. Peter’s Church in Northampton in the twelfth century and many miracles were recorded);

St. Suneman, a hermit of St. Benet Holme Monastery (in honor of St. Benedict) near Ludham on the River Bure in Norfolk, was slain in the ninth century (no feast is known;

Hieromartyr Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, was captured by Vikings and then martyred by them in Greenwich near London in 1012 (feast: April 19);

St. Eadnoth, a monk from Worcester who was later Abbot of Ramsey in Cambridgeshire and Bishop of Dorchester and killed by the Danes in 1016 (feast: October 19);

St. Werstan, a monk of Deerhurst who lived as a hermit in the Malvern Hills on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border and was martyred in the 1050s (no feast-day is known, Malvern Priory stands on the site of his cell).

Liturgical English and Missionary Needs

Introduction

The English-speaking world is divided by various forms of English: American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand. For example, even the name of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) differs. In American English, with its German-influenced grammar, it is called ‘outside of Russia’, in Britain ‘outside Russia’. American also uses the archaic (for Britain) ‘in behalf of’ instead of the British ‘on behalf of’. However, most of our liturgical translations have been done in the USA. And we are profoundly grateful for them, especially for the amazing and always grammatically correct work of the ever-memorable Brother Joseph (Isaac) Lambertson. Eternal Memory to him! Today, we need translations which avoid literalisms, archaicisms, Latinisms and Hellenisms.

Literalisms

In liturgical translation we should avoid word order that is unnatural for English and complicates clarity and understanding. This means avoiding unnecessary inversions, such as ‘Him do we praise’, as opposed to ‘we praise Him’, or ‘ever didst thou’, as opposed to ‘thou didst ever’, or ‘for a good God art Thou’, as opposed to ‘For Thou art a good God’. This includes, with rare exceptions, avoiding inverting adjective use (we are not French!), such as forms like ‘light Divine’ as opposed to ‘Divine light’. Byzantine Greek (and therefore Church Slavonic) word order does not work in an established and codified language like English, where it sounds unnatural and unclear.

Similarly, the literalist translation of ‘philanthropos’ as ‘Lover of Mankind’, rather than ‘Who loves mankind’ clumsily introduces the word ‘lover’ into liturgical English. Calling the Mother of God ‘Mistress’ instead of ‘Sovereign Lady’, is equally clumsy.

Archaicisms

There can be no question of not using ‘thou’ and its verb ending est (in reality pronounced ‘s’) in translations: the ‘you’ form is simply not a translation, but an ideological  modernization. On the other hand, archaicisms need to be rejected, since they only obscure the meaning. For instance, the ‘eth’ ending of verbs for the third person singular (‘he cometh’) is an archaicism. In the 17th century, although the ending was still printed as such by printers, it was already pronounced ‘s’, as it has also been written ever since.

Similarly, the use of the archaic imperative ‘do thou break’ instead of ‘break’ or ‘hear ye’ instead of ‘hear’ is unnecessary. The old form of the subjunctive, ‘pray that he come’ was long ago replaced in contemporary English with ‘may’ – ‘pray that he may come’ etc. Forms such as ‘unto’ instead of ‘to’, upon’ instead of ‘on’, ‘wherewith’ instead of ‘with which’, ‘thither’, ‘hither’ and ‘whither’ instead of ‘to there’, ‘to here’ and ‘to where’, ‘wherefore’ instead of ‘therefore’, ‘in that’ instead of ‘as’, could be avoided. Such archaicisms simply obscure meaning.

Latinisms and Hellenisms

Simple and poetic English, retaining its Old English roots, is always preferable to Latinate Victorianisms, sometimes very obscure, favoured by such as the Episcopalian translator, Isabel Hapgood. Thus: ‘assemble’ could be replaced by ‘gather’, ‘carnal’ by ‘fleshly’, ‘disperse’ by ‘scatter’, ‘distribute’ by ‘give out’, ‘effulgence’ by ‘shining forth’ or ‘radiance’, ‘emit’ by ‘give out’, ‘illumine’ by ‘enlighten’, ‘incorporeal’ by ‘bodily’, ‘inundate’ by ‘flood’, ‘lambent’ by ‘softly shining’, ‘laud’ by ‘praise’, ‘luminary’ by ‘beacon’, ‘manifest’ (adjective) by ‘plain’ or ‘clear’, ‘manifest’ (verb) by ‘show forth’ or ‘reveal’, ‘rescue’ by ‘deliver’, ‘solicitous’ by ‘attentive’, ‘suspend’ by ‘hang’, ‘traverse’ by ‘cross’, and ‘unoriginate’ by ‘without beginning’ or ‘from everlasting’,

Since the terms of Patristic Greek (often itself only a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic) was translated into Patristic Latin from the end of the second century on, there seems to be no reason at all to use Hellenisms. Thus, ‘asceticism’ can be replaced by ‘ascetic life’, ‘chant’ (a clumsy attempt to translate the Hebrew ‘psaltizo’, even though Slavonic uses the ordinary word to sing – ‘pet’’) by ‘sing’, ‘hymnody’ by ‘hymn singing’, ‘Hypostasis’ by ‘Person’ (already used in Latin in the fourth century), ‘noetic’ by ‘spiritual’, ‘invisible’ or ‘of the heart’, ‘stichos’ by ‘verse’, ‘theologize’ by ‘make theology’ and ‘Theotokos’ by ‘Birthgiver of God’ or sometimes simply ‘Mother of God’.

Conclusion

Looking now to future generations and refining the extraordinary pioneering translations of previous generations, mainly begun in the 1960s and 1970s, we have to take into account the pastoral needs of our contemporary flock. Our need for English is because the children of our flock, whatever their national origins, use English as their common language. We need a liturgical English which is both faithful to the spirit of the original but also grammatically correct, clear and accessible.

 

 

Our Orthodox Identity and the Future Configuration of the Russian Orthodox Church

Our identity as Orthodox Christians is in our belonging to and confession of the Faith of the One Church of God, founded in Jerusalem by the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in 33 AD. This Faith of the Church is incarnated in Christian Civilization, the one and only Christian Empire which forms the Orthodox World, the Orthosphere. Today, in conditions of persecution by Western Secularism, this Christian Orthodox Empire, the reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven, stretches from Jerusalem and the Middle East to the greater part of Europe outside its apostatic Western tip, across Siberia to the Alaskan coasts, covering one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited surface. However, this world also includes our oases, which act as Embassies of the Christian Empire, all over the Planet. Our physical passports show many different nationalities, but our spiritual passports show that we belong to this One Global Church and Faith.

For example, our church in Colchester is built of timber and iron from England and the main doors carry Orthodox crosses which were fashioned from an old fishing boat from Felixstowe, the town named after the seventh-century Apostle of the English East, St Felix. However, inside the church there are icons and sacred artefacts from across today’s Orthodox world. Thus, the iconostasis comes from Moldova, the two kissing icons by the holy doors are from Crete and other items in the church come from Carpatho-Russia, Siberia, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Cyprus, Serbia, Syria, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro.

We do not belong to those Civilizations which never received the Word of Christ, either because they existed before His Unique and Transfiguring Revelation and so far have still not known Him (the interconnected Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism), or else because they rejected Him for worldly and nationalistic reasons after His Loving Revelation (the interconnected Judaism, Islam, Western Secularism). The latter, its tentacles now spread around the world, is the fruit of the strange and deluded deviations from the Orthodox Church, known as Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, which rejected the Church of God and Her Orthodox Christian Faith. Unlike them, our Christian Empire is not the worldly Empire of Rome. This was the mistake of Old Rome and much later of New Rome, both of which succumbed to local racial nationalisms: Latin-Germanic (Catholic-Protestant) and Greek, both of which claimed to have authority superior to (the ‘first without equal’ heresy) that of the Kingdom of God. But the thisworldly Kingdom of Rome is not the Kingdom of God.

The various territories of the world are cared for by the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches, all part of the Christian Empire. Eleven of these cover only tiny canonical territories, for instance, Palestine and the Jordan (the Church of Jerusalem), Czechoslovakia, Albania, Cyprus, Poland, some Greek islands and immigrant enclaves (the Church of Constantinople), Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, ex-Yugoslavia and migrations (the Church of Serbia) and Romania and migrations. The other three Local Churches cover much larger territories: most of the Arab world and migrations (the Church of Antioch) and the Continent of Africa (the Church of Alexandria).

The Church of Russia is a special case, as it totals 75% of the faithful and consists of two parts. The territory of the first part, administered from Moscow, covers the vast majority of the Eurasian Continent, excluding the above territories of the twelve much smaller Local Churches also in Eurasia, their immigrant outposts in Western Europe and also, in the future perhaps the British Isles and Ireland. This Eurasian landmass, in fact one Continent, is thus almost all administered from Moscow, although parts of it, like the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Japan and China, are largely autonomous. Indeed, they yet become fully independent, as have done the Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

However, the second part of the Church of Russia, once called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), which evolved into today’s Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), is centred in New York. This has come to be specialized in the care of Russian Orthodox in the three remaining Continents of the world, outside mainland Europe, Asia and Africa, that is, in North America, South America and Oceania. Perhaps its vocation is to become the Orthodox Church of the Anglosphere and Latin America, as such using five languages: English (the USA, Canada, the British Isles, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand), Spanish and Portuguese (Latin America and the Caribbean), with some French (Quebec and some Caribbean islands) and some Dutch (Surinam and some Caribbean islands).

If this is to be the case, perhaps ROCOR will one day change its name again to correspond to this new reality, which has evolved and become visible especially over the last decade. Perhaps its name will change to something like ROCALA: The Russian Orthodox Church of the Anglosphere and Latin America. True, at present, ROCOR still has a few parishes in countries allied to the USA in Asia and in Western Europe (the vast majority of these are in Western Germany). The future of these parishes may in a generation from now become administration from Moscow. This would be in exchange for the parishes in the Americas (from which both Moscow bishops were expelled last year), Oceania and the British Isles and Ireland, where there are a few parishes still illogically administered from Moscow and not New York. Thus, as regards Great Britain, at present there are only three established parishes with property administered from Moscow, two small ones in Oxford and Manchester, which are ROCOR foundations, and the large one in London, which members of ROCOR helped found. In the post-Brexit world it would be illogical for Moscow to have a jurisdiction here, though until recently the opposite was true. Mistakes have been made on both sides.

Not all is clear, but it seems that in the future, as the geopolitics of US withdrawal from Eurasia after the defeats and disasters of its over-reach in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Ukraine and Syria, and Trump’s statement that NATO is obsolete, we may see all Russian Orthodox in Europe and Asia administered from Moscow. Those in the English-speaking world and Latin America may, however, come to be administered from New York.

May Thy Will be done, O Lord!

 

 

75 Years Since D-Day

I well remember how on the 22nd anniversary of D-Day, 6/6/66, my mother told me that on that day in 1944 she saw the skies of southern England turn black with aeroplanes. This was D-Day, the greatest naval operation and invasion, 6,000 vessels and 9,000 aircraft, of all time. Tens of thousands of young men were to die in the following three months, together with 20,000 French civilians, tragically killed, mainly by notoriously indiscriminate Allied bombing.

This Allied invasion did liberate Western Europe from the Nazis, a liberation which would have happened anyway, but by the Red Army. Instead of fighting its way from Stalingrad only to Berlin, it would instead inevitably have fought its way from Stalingrad to the shores of Normandy, no doubt by the early summer of 1945 after its conquest of Berlin in early May 1945. Thus, with D-Day, instead of being occupied by the red star of the Soviet Union (SU), Western Europe was occupied by the white star of the United States (US).  The speed of  Allied success after D-Day was greatly helped by the hugely successful Soviet Operation Bagration which began, as had been agreed in Teheran, on 22 June and greatly weakened Nazi resistance in Normandy. It can be said that the real political aim of D-Day for the US was, after having achieved its priority of domination of the Pacific, its desire to prevent the occupation of Western Europe by the victorious Soviet Union, which is why that invasion took place so late in the war.

Today, as Great Britain prepares to leave Western Europe through Brexit, pragmatically and warmly backed by the half-Scottish President Trump who has just visited London, we prepare not for an Anglo-American invasion of Western Europe, but for an Anglo-American retreat from Western Europe. Three generations have reversed the situation of 1944, but the old relationship has been renewed. What is to come is not sure, but the hand of history is upon us.

Fr Andrew

Southern England, 6 June 2019

Invited as head of the Vatican State by the Romanian President and Prime Minister (both fake Christians) Pope Francis has broken into the Romanian Garden of the Mother of God.

The Papal Drug

 

Fallen angel, into the house,

Dressed in white like the sun at noon,

Broke like a thirsty, hungry mouse,

Guard cats looking at a cartoon.

 

Drops of poison, like dew looking,

Honey-coated and counterfeit,

All the citizens are tasting,

From the poor to the high and great.

 

By the Papal drug bedazzled,

An ice storm will soon be received;

The love of Christ is bedraggled,

The Mother of God is deceived.

 

Nicuşor Gliga

Bucharest, 2nd June 2019

Towards Freedom for the Peoples of Europe

European Election results in Great Britain show that the majority have rejected the old fogeyism of centre-left and centre-right groups which have been compromised by their elitist and anti-democratic views. The majority wants the restoration of national freedom and national identity, which have for so long been trampled on by the centralizing diktats of the ageing Westminster and Brussels Establishments. However, the significant minority from the self-interested, anti-national class, made up of the Metropolitan elite and supported by the Establishment-owned media, voted to continue to make themselves money out of the EU. With little idea of grassroots reality outside the large cities, they wish to leave this rest of the country in the corrupt and tyrannical straitjacket of Westminster and Brussels. In their intellectual and class snobbery they arrogantly despise ordinary people as ‘too stupid to understand’. So they voted for the freedom for themselves to continue profiteering regardless of the people.

Not at all to be overlooked, a third, generally younger and very dynamic group voted for social justice and against the Capitalist-Consumerist Establishment that for generations has devastated the Planet for greed. This group is for instance outraged that in one of the richest countries of the world hundreds of thousands of rejected people have been forced to obtain nourishment from food banks and millions of students and ex-students have been indebted for life by Thatcherite Blairism, Cameronism and Cleggism. It is clear that if those who want freedom from the EU can ally themselves with these causes of social justice and environmentalism, they will be unstoppable. There is outrage against decades of injustice, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, hypocrisy, stagnation and the compromises of the self-serving and self-admiring elite. This is deaf and blind to the needs of the outcast underclass, who will never be able buy themselves even a small flat, and does not grasp that only justice can satisfy them.

Although the UK is some years ahead in the struggle against EU tyranny, these results are reflected in those that are starting to be seen elsewhere in Europe, especially in France and Italy. This movement for freedom could in just a few years time turn into the end for all the old, anti-democratic European centrist parties, founded and corrupted by transnational lucre. In defence of themselves and supported by the State-paid media, they label democratic parties ‘populist’ or ‘far right’. Such propaganda lies will not work. There is a clear difference between national movements for freedom and frankly Fascist and racist trends such as UKIP and the former French National Front presented. It is clear that if, before the inevitable general elections in the UK and other EU countries, the old parties do not radically transform themselves, they will die out for their treason, cowardice and deceit. The time is coming when all must decide whether they are for the peoples of Free Europe or, on the contrary, for EU elitist tyranny.

Meanwhile, also on Sunday 26 May, the Russian Patriarch consecrated the new and beautiful Orthodox Church of All Saints in Strasbourg, the home of the old and hideous EU Parliament of All Rogues. Preaching of the failure of the former materialist Superpower, the Soviet Union, to build human happiness without God, his words indirectly pointed to the folly of the atheist European Union in attempting to do the same. Let those who have ears hear.

 

Fantasies and Reality: Towards a Local Orthodox Church of Western Europe

Introduction

Since at least the 1970s, there has been talk of founding a Local Church in various parts of Western Europe, especially in France under the Fraternite Orthodoxe, but also in Great Britain and, strangely enough, in faraway Turkey.

The Continental Fantasists

French intellectualism, expressed mainly by descendants of Russian aristocrats, freemasons and dreamers in the Rue Daru emigration of those who had betrayed the Tsar, proposed a Paris-centred (how could it be otherwise in the land of Napoleon?) Jurisdiction. Naturally, they themselves would be in power. Their models were political – the deeply-troubled OCA and the highly controversial parishes in Finland under Constantinople. Lost in clouds of philosophy, they expressed words and not deeds and forgot that such a Jurisdiction would need the canonical support of at least one Patriarchate, financial backing from the grassroots and also an infrastructure in the form of a property network of monasteries and parishes.

Of course, it never had any of these and today has no candidates even to be its next bishop after the present 75-year old ex-Catholic Archbishop Jean. Neither the Patriarchate of Constantinople nor anyone else was ever going to support autocephaly for such a tiny and inward-looking group. Financial backing to any appreciable extent was quite absent. And one Rue Daru parish or family after another returned to the Russian Church, went bankrupt, fell into disrepair or simply closed down, forcing the ever smaller group to rely on rented premises. The whole arrogant project, not passed on to the following generation, isolated from the Orthodox mainstream and marred by aggressive new calendarism and ecumenism which mocked the values of faithful Orthodox, seemed more like just another irrelevant sub-department of the Vatican’s Uniat fantasy. Perhaps it was.

The Anglican Fantasists

So much for the navel-gazing in Continental Western Europe. In Great Britain, actually England, insularist Anglican academic Establishmentism proposed a ‘British Orthodox Church’. Made up largely of elderly upper middle-class people, retired vicars and academics, with direct or indirect links to the Rue Daru elite, its philosophy was equally unreal. Born from the tiny elite of the British Establishment, it took no note at all of the fact that the oppressive Establishment is alien to most people who live in the British Isles, and even more in the inherent geographical part of the Isles, in Ireland. After all, the Establishment is originally a blood-soaked import from the barbaric Norman elite in 1066. This compromised itself successively in the oppression of the English, the Welsh, the Irish and the Scots, and then the rest of the world, in slave-trading and exploitative imperialist genocides. In a word, there is no such thing as Britain. Like ‘the Ukraine’, it is a purely political construct and therefore there can never be any such thing as ‘British Orthodoxy’.

Curiously for academics so closely linked to the failed Rue Daru fantasy, these fantasists never noticed that the number of active Orthodox in the British Isles and Ireland is so small that to build a Local Church here is fantasy. And without canonical backing from a Patriarchate, grassroots financial support from large numbers and property infrastructure, the whole project is impossible. This is why no Local Church has ever contemplated founding an Autocephalous Church in the British Isles. The failure was encapsulated in the city of dreaming spires (and lost causes), Oxford. Here the professorial fantasy of combining different groups of Orthodox, new calendar, old calendar, in a modernist chapel, part-financed by Anglicans, with little to do with ordinary people, came to nothing. I said so in 1975, whereupon the fantasist priest (who was later defrocked) told me that ‘there is no such thing as ordinary people’. Later a dozen or so disgruntled and mainly pensioned-off Anglican vicars, ordained overnight and with little concept of the reality of Orthodoxy and how to do the services, sealed the failure. The fantasy was not passed on to the following generation. Time to move on.

The Turkish Fantasists

With the vast majority of Orthodox in the Russian Church paralysed for most of the twentieth century, but reviving dangerously, in their view, since the official fall of atheism in Moscow in 1991, in Turkey the Greek racist Phanariots panicked. So these pro-LGBT gerontocrats and Young Turks further extended and developed the use of the code-word for Greek Imperialism, ‘Pan-Orthodox’. How could these fantasists justify the universal rule of a non-universal Empire which in any case had been wiped off the face of the earth five and a half centuries before? They spent a large amount of US dollars on a pseudo-Council in Crete and then set about shamelessly invading the canonical territories of other Local Churches, under US State Department orders. (This was instead of sending out missions to the 7.3 billion of the Non-Orthodox world; no doubt they can wait another millennium to hear the Gospel).

However, today Phanariot corruption by embezzlement, bribery and blackmail, has been displayed before the whole world. Their megalomaniac and navel-gazing talking shops, ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Episcopal Assemblies, agreed to by Russian naivety, are now thankfully dead. Phyletist (the Greek word for racist) Greek grandstanding is dead with it. The Papist project of making the whole world into Greek-controlled ‘autonomous’ parts of the absurdly-named, Turkish ‘Oecumenical Patriarchate’ has become the laughing-stock of the whole still Orthodox world. The days of treachery, cowardice and deceit, to use the concise and precise formula of the martyred Tsar Nicholas II, are over. Another fantasy has bitten the dust. So where do we go from here?

Conclusion

One thing is clear: no Local Orthodox Church of Western Europe will ever be built on fantasies. Three such fantasies have been tried and all failed miserably. No more fantasies, just reality. Since the Phanariot project is now well and truly in the dustbin of history, we have to look at the other six Local Churches present in Western Europe. Of these six remaining Orthodox groups in Western Europe, five, the Romanian, Antiochian and Serbian, as well as the tiny Bulgarian and the newly-appeared Georgian, are not going to do anything to promote a Local Church. This is because they are all mononational and have only one interest: preserving their own national identity and national flags. Their outreach, if it exists at all, is virtually only to their own nationality.

Reluctantly, despite the incredible incompetence, frustrating irresponsibility, paranoid centralization, personality cult narcissism, contempt for local people, waste of human resources  and alcoholism, there is therefore only one alternative. This, like it or not, is ‘the only show in town’, the Russian Church. Under two administrations, the largest one centred in Moscow thanks to its presence in Italy, Germany, France, Iberia and Scandinavia, this is now setting up an Exarchate, with a group of bishops and a network of parishes, some newly-built. It is early days yet, but this is the only hope – and, actually, long has been. May the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe at last be empowered to take the multinational responsibility for Orthodoxy which it has always so sadly refused and shown itself incapable of.

 

Theresa May Not

Like a rudderless ship, the British State is once more Prime Minister-less. Soon a new leader is to be chosen, not of course by the people of anti-democratic Britain, but by 100,000 members of the Conservative Party. The myth that we have a representative democracy is over: The elitist and anti-democratic Parliament even refused to implement Brexit, the long-frustrated will of the people. If Mrs May is replaced by the ironically-named Russophobe Boris Johnson, as many expect, then two similarly-names European countries will be run by comedians: The UK and the Ukraine.

Some sentimentalists feel sorry for Mrs May. After all, as a Remainer, she showed a sense of public duty, stubborn integrity and exhausted herself in trying to implement Brexit. Perhaps. However, we cannot forget her support for oil-greedy, imperialist genocides in Iraq, Afghanistan Libya, Syria and the Ukraine, the crass and very expensive errors of her period as Home Secretary, her support for the MI5 cover-up in Salisbury, when Russians were accused of attempting to murder a young woman, the daughter of a retired (and now kidnapped and concealed from the media) British spy, who was playing with British-supplied nerve-agents in his attic, and the fact that the ambitious Mrs May, after all, wanted to become Prime Minister in the first place.

Brexit has not happened. But then the British, EU and US Establishments never wanted the people’s will to happen. Theresa May’s day turned into Theresa’s Mayday. It does not really matter. Eventually, Brexit will happen, together with Frexit, Grexit, Nexit, Dexit and every other sort of Exit, as the post-War emergency created EU inevitably breaks up. Quite simply, Britain pressed the button first: the others, having seen through the myth in their turn, will follow in time. There has only ever been one European Union and only ever will be one European Union. It is called Switzerland. The rest is political myth.