Category Archives: Ancient Western Holiness

The Inevitable Struggle for the Inevitable Local Church

Foreword

The formation of new Local Orthodox Churches is inevitable, indeed it began long ago. One day there will be four new Local Churches in the world – for Western Europe, North America, South America and Oceania. This is not a prophecy, it is obvious and has been obvious to me for 45 years. When will they appear? This is a spiritual problem, all we know is that the struggle for them is inevitable. Not, I think, in my lifetime, perhaps not even in my children’s lifetimes, but perhaps in the lifetimes of my grandchildren. The formation of a new Local Church in Western Europe is what I have devoted my life to. I hope that, like many others, I will have contributed something positive, however modest, to its foundations.

Introduction

The bane of the Church is any attachment to the world and one of the strongest forms of attachment is nationalism. For example, the Jews could not accept Christ because of their attachment to Jewish nationalism as ‘the chosen people’. Then the Copts and the Armenians broke away from the Church because of nationalism, Western Europe broke away because of Western nationalism, inventing self-justifying ‘Roman’ Catholicism, and the future Protestants broke away from them because of Germanic nationalism. The most flagrant form of this nationalism was perhaps ‘the Church of England’, created by a murderous and power-grasping King.

In much more recent times the unity of the Church has been put under great pressure by flag-waving Greek nationalism, called phyletism, although we still await the repentance of the Phanariot episcopate. Nationalism is by definition worldliness and is therefore anti-missionary. God only speaks the language of the nationalists, be it Hebrew, Latin, Greek or other, and as every Victorian Englishman knew, ‘God is an Englishman’. Nationalist groups inevitably die out, as they are assimilated. Instead of obeying the last two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, they refuse to go out and baptise the world, rather trying to steal the flocks of others, as in today’s Ukraine.

Imperialism

The above is a list of examples of what might be called ‘uncanonical nationalism’, for its extremism always leads to schisms and heresies, that is, it leads to being outside the Church. This we can see with the case of the contemporary Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose schism has taken 100 years to prepare. However, there is also nationalism inside the Church, that is, it is ‘canonical’. Though obviously, by definition, more moderate than the extremist form outside the communion of the Church, it is basically imperialist. Its sign is national exclusivism, it will accept others only if they ‘become Greeks’ or ‘become Russians’, for instance.

This imperialism is marked by the imposition of a single language and a single culture, centralisation and bureaucracy. This is inevitably part of a controlling tyranny, of the bullying and intimidation of both clergy and people at the grassroots. By creating fear and injustice, it hopes to obtain the property and wealth of the people, their church buildings. By mistreating the clergy, this imperialist centralism discourages the missionary impulse, often persecuting any missionary initiative in the name of control and ‘protocols’. Such a mentality is death to the soul and death to the spiritual life of the Church: imperialism is always spiritual death.

Localism

Imperialism is also by definition an attachment to the world, nationalism, but the other extreme of this nationalism is what may be called ‘Localism’. This is the reaction to centralisation, the splitting movement of disunity in the name of some small country, often an artificial one, which has led over the last 200 years to the formation of a whole series of small, ‘Autocephalous’ Local Churches. The most recent example was that which was formed fifty years ago in North America , with the formation of the tiny ‘OCA’, the Orthodox Church in America, a group which in reality united fewer than 10% of Orthodox in North America, perhaps as few as 5%.

The brainchild and scheme of the very practical and frustrated activist Fr Alexander Schmemann, who had taken power from the academic theoretician Fr George Florovsky, the ideologists of the OCA tried to impose US culture, regardless of its lack of spiritual content, on all. Founded not on Orthodox Christianity, this mentality tried to impose the lowest common denominator of local culture – new calendarism, modernism, anti-monasticism, anti-asceticism and anti-spiritual moralism, at best a watered-down rationalistic intellectualism. However, Christ’s Church is founded not on some local human culture, but on His Universal Gospel made incarnate.

Conclusion

For nearly fifty years now we have battled for authentic Orthodoxy, but specifically in the local language (and not in foreign versions of that language!) and for the honouring of local saints, where they exist, and for local traditions which are not opposed to the Church. We cannot ignore the local language, geography and history, we must consult and not ignore experience. All else is arrogance. What we have observed in the last half-century is that every nationalist formation, whether of imperialist or localist nationalism, has died out. Thus, both Greek and Russian Churches have died out here, as has also the attempt to create an Anglican Orthodoxy.

This 21st century will not bring a nationalistic Neo-Anglican ‘British Orthodox Church’, as they wanted. However, it may bring an Autocephalous Western European Orthodox Church, led by His Beatitude Metropolitan N. in Paris. As regards the four peoples and nations of these ‘Islands of the North Atlantic’ (IONA), it would find itself an autonomous part of such a Metropolia. It could have four archbishops, one for England, one for a reunited Ireland, one for Scotland and one for Wales, possibly with vicar bishops. However, realistically, this can only happen under the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, which alone founds new Churches. May God’s will be done.

 

The Spirit of St Edmund

Foreword

Our Orthodox Kingdom lives and prays beneath the standard of holy Edmund, the King and Martyr of East Anglia (+ 869), and the first Patron Saint of the English Land. His standard is made up of a crown, representing his kingship, his virginity and his martyrdom, against the background of a heavenly blue and crossed arrows. These arrows show how he defended his Kingdom and so won Paradise, being shot through with many of them by violent and heathen men who then beheaded him.

Introduction

St Edmund’s heavenly kingdom is the East Anglian corner in Paradise, but his earthly kingdom was and is made up of what is now Norfolk, Suffolk and the fenlands of eastern Cambridgeshire. However, it spread and spreads its influence across its marches into northern Essex, across the fens into the East Midlands, and in missions still further afield, thus taking his spirit outside his land. St Edmund expressed this spirit in life and in death in the values of Orthodox Christian Civilisation, which are:

  1. Faithfulness

The Old English word ‘geleafful’ (literally, faithful) was the word chosen by missionary monks to translate the Greek word ‘Orthodox’. Thus, faithful Christians are Orthodox Christians and vice versa. Through his confession of the Faith in his life and by his martyrdom in his death, there is no doubt that St Edmund was an Orthodox Christian, faithful to the end to the Gospel of Christ, which he imitated. It is this faithfulness, that is, Orthodoxy that we need and seek to follow today.

  1. Kingship

Edmund was of the noble and kingly line of East Anglia and its last King. He was also the faithful and trusted friend of the holy King Alfred the Great, unifier of England and its greatest Sovereign. Edmund fought alongside Alfred to defend Nottingham in the East Midlands. He was noble in blood, but also in conduct, fearlessly fighting the heathen, but not afraid to die, like the King of Kings, at his own Gethsemane and Golgotha in Hoxne, in the very centre of his Kingdom between north and south.

  1. Care for the People

His tenth-century life described him as ‘wise and honourable’, that ‘he ever glorified Almighty God by his noble conduct’, was ‘humble and devout’, ‘mindful of the true teaching’, ‘among men as one of them’, ‘bountiful to the poor and to widows even like a father’, that ‘with goodwill he ever guided his people to righteousness and lived happily in the true faith’. He chose ‘rather to die for his own land’, ‘never turning aside from the worship of Almighty God or from His true love, whether he lived or died’.

Conclusion

These Trinitarian values are essential as they represent all that is missing here today. Thus, there is little faithfulness and they only argue about how best to betray the Faith. There is little sense of Kingship as there is little nobility, spirit of sacrifice, they are only political opportunists and careerists who replace the Kingdom of Heaven with the Republic of Hell. And there is little pastoral care for the people as anti-missionaries are in power. Therefore, our mission now is to spread the spirit of St Edmund.

 

 

 

On Edmund the Martyred King

Men become devils and all dreams overthrown,

Shadows of moonlit trees and faces unknown.

Hope itself, with Edmund’s England, here lies slain.

Be warned: He will haunt you and come back again.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the arrow shower.

Bury King Edmund beneath the fading hour.

Bury King Edmund beneath the stubble ground.

Bury King Edmund beneath the forest mound.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the failing light.

Bury King Edmund beneath the thick of night.

Bury King Edmund beneath the stars that stand.

Bury King Edmund beneath his gentle land.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the autumn bough.

Bury King Edmund beneath the snow and plough.

 

Edmund’s spirit is in little market towns,

Where we’d live as simple souls and win our crowns.

As a Saint, Edmund has shone forth through our tears,

Edmund’s prayed for us through all the clouded years.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the spring green born.

Bury King Edmund beneath the standing corn.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the hearts that cower.

Bury King Edmund beneath the lust for power.

Bury King Edmund beneath the greed for gold.

Bury King Edmund beneath the mind grown cold.

 

Bury King Edmund beneath the old faith lost.

Bury King Edmund beneath the darkness crossed.

Bury King Edmund beneath Empire that lied.

Bury King Edmund beneath the proud mind’s pride.

 

We who are Edmund’s people know only this:

There’s no help but in Edmund and his God’s bliss

And on the last day he will rise from his grave:

Edmund the Martyred King, risen bright to save.

The Western Captivity is Ending: The Restoration of Orthodoxy is Gathering Strength

Introduction: Miracles

In 2007 the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Church inside Russia were miraculously reconciled before me, as I stood confessing ex-Soviet generals and others in the miraculously rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Then, as a priest from the Rue Daru Archdiocese concelebrated, I did not think that it would take that Archdiocese another twelve tumultuous years to return to its Russian Mother Church. However, this miracle too has come about – in 2019 – and its Archbishop Jean has now become Metropolitan Jean. Who cannot be moved to see his photo, with that of the distinguished Protopresbyter Anatoly Rakovich and others, at last reunited with the Russian Church? Here are joy and triumph come from the grace of God.

True, his Metropolia is tiny, with only some sixty, mainly small, parishes, largely in France, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands and England. Nevertheless, it is both historic and important, as it includes many who have worked tirelessly for the Orthodox evangelization of mainly French-speaking countries in Western Europe, translating, presenting the Faith and celebrating the Liturgy. This unity became possible only after 2000, once the New Martyrs and Confessors had been canonized in Moscow. This meant that the Church inside Russia and its representatives abroad would now progressively be unshackled from enslavement to the State and from renovationism by their veneration for the New Martyrs and Confessors, who witnessed to Christ against both.

The Past

Thus, the century from 1917 on until today of colossal Orthodox decadence is coming to an end. Marked successively by the forced introduction of the Roman Catholic (‘new’) calendar, the spread of ecumenism, the shortening of the Liturgy, the dismantling of iconostases, the installation of chairs and pews in churches, the establishment of a largely homosexual and anti-monastic episcopate who persecute married clergy and monks alike, the contempt for the canons and the services and the absurd ideology of Eastern Papism, all led by Constantinople, controlled and manipulated  by Anglo-American geopolitics, and aped by others equally weak in faith, the decadence is ending. We thank God for this grace, for it comes from Him, not from men.

We naturally welcome this historic event with a joy beyond words. We helped in the fight against the double-bladed sword of renovationism and sectarianism everywhere, despite phenomenal injustices and persecution. Only our native Eastern English stubbornness helped; others, including a ROCOR Archbishop, told me that they would have given up long ago and walked away from the disgraceful and scandalous. The fight was harsh, the combat was rude. The Centre in Moscow, held captive by Communism and betrayed by renovationist internal enemies both inside and outside Russia, was occupied, the barbarians were inside the City. There was no alternative for those faithful to Russian Orthodoxy but to join one of the two Non-Moscow émigré groups.

The first group was the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, worldwide and embracing over 85% of the Russian emigration. In the late 1940s, its Synod moved from Europe and has since been based in New York. Sadly, from the 1960s on it was to spend a long period darkened by the accession to power in it of those promoting Cold War sectarianism, phariseeism, ritualism, nationalism and CIA-funded politicking. In 2007 the sectarians left for the only place they could go – to various old calendarist sects. ROCOR now appears to be turning into the Russian Orthodox Church of the English-speaking world. Now dominated by the new immigration, the old largely having died out, the sectarian mentality has today been consigned to the dustbin of history.

The second group was Rue Daru, geographically limited to a few countries in Western Europe and embracing less than 15% of the Russian emigration. It has always been based in Paris. Founded by anti-Tsar, revolutionary, Saint Petersburg aristocrats, liberals, intellectuals and freemasons who soon broke away from ROCOR, it was from the start contaminated by a Western captivity to Protestant, pseudo-intellectual renovationism and fanatical Russophobia. This it later spread to the ex-Uniat Metropolia in the USA, which, today called the OCA, is only now freeing itself of its captivity after over fifty years. Now dominated by the new immigration, the old largely having died out, the renovationist mentality has today been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Conclusion: The Future

Today Metropolian Jean stands with authority, the aggressive enemies of Orthodoxy like the Fraternite, Struve, Behr and others who so persecuted and mocked us, gone. The obstacles they presented fell with their deaths and despite a few neo-renovationists, 1960s rebels against their émigré parents, agents of Western spy services, those married to or paid by Roman Catholics or arrived from Moscow in the 1990s with a political axe to grind, or naïve converts, nothing now stands in the way of restoring Orthodoxy and abandoning the hopelessly old-fashioned half-Catholic/half-Protestant ‘Euro-Orthodox’ mentality. This means restoring the Russian Tradition, abandoning the Catholic calendar and other liturgical and canonical eccentricities.

The remains of émigré Russian Orthodoxy, ROCOR in Western Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain, Rue Daru in France, and Moscow everywhere, are now in the One Russian Church. The Church has been cleansed; parasitic, secularist-minded elements have fallen away. The bad old days are over. Persecution by racists and renovationists is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We have now moved a step closer to establishing a United Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, faithful to the Tradition, venerating the local saints in the local languages, the foundation of the restored future Orthodox Church of Western Europe, our combat against the traitors and their injustices, and our dream of nearly fifty years, done. This is a miracle of God.

 

An Interview with a Serbian Church Website

The following interview was published last week on www.pouke.org, a Serbian Church website.

  • Being an Englishman and an Orthodox priest at the same time, how do people in your .neighbourhood perceive you?

With complete indifference. Very few people here are interested in any religion. A priest is generally viewed as perhaps rather eccentric, but harmless. Nobody is interested, people live however they want. It is all the same to them whatever I am.

  • Please tell us, is there an interest in Orthodoxy, at least in the town of Colchester where your Church is? Who are the people from your parish? Where do they come from and what brings them to Orthodoxy?

I was born and went to school in Colchester, which is about 100 km north-east of London. However, interest from most English people living in Colchester, as anywhere else, is very limited. Most English people are atheists and have no interest in any faith at all.

Our parish is mainly made up of Russian immigrants from Latvia and Lithuania, Moldovans, Romanians, Ukrainians and Russians, as well as Bulgarians, Cypriots and Greeks, together with their English-born children. Most have come here over the last 20 years. True, we have small numbers of Orthodox English people and some other nationalities, but these are usually linked in some way to Russia or else are married to Russian women. They live in Colchester or around it, within an 80 km radius.

  • Is there a Church choir in your parish? What are the specifics of your parish in Colchester? 

Yes, of course there is a choir, a good one, between about 10 and 20 people sing every Sunday. All are volunteers, we do not have or like paid choirs. On an average Sunday there are only 150-200 people in church, though we have 600 regular parishioners and, in fact, about 3,000 local Orthodox come to our services during the year, but many are only nominal Orthodox and come only once a year, for baptisms or weddings.

Our church building is the largest Russian Orthodox church building in the British Isles, about the same size as the Serbian Cathedral, St Sava’s, in London. It is white and was built of wood 164 years ago. There are 24 nationalities, most people are under 40, with large numbers of children. On average we have about 100 baptisms, 10 weddings and 1 funeral a year. Our second priest, Fr Ion, is Romanian, but married to a Russian from Latvia. Our services are in three languages, Slavonic, English and Romanian. We have many confessions every Sunday with communion from two chalices, and 100-150 communions.

  • You talked about St Edmund, can you please tell us about this Saint and his significance in your life? 

The name Edmund will sound strange and not Orthodox to most Serbs. But just because some Roman Catholics may have his name, it does not mean that he was Roman Catholic. Firstly, he is a real saint (Roman Catholics do not have real saints) and, secondly, he lived before Roman Catholicism was invented. Many Roman Catholics are called Nicholas; does that mean that St Nicholas was Roman Catholic? Of course not!

St Edmund was King of Eastern England, where I and my ancestors were born and live, and he was martyred by pagan Viking invaders in 869. His memory is still alive here and a whole town locally is named after him. I have known about him and felt his presence here from childhood, since he is the main local saint and the original Patron Saint of England. I think I grew up beneath his protection in some mysterious way. St Edmund is the first saint whose spirit I felt in childhood.

The spirit of the saints is identical, wherever and whenever they lived. Many saints of the West have always been venerated by Serbs in the Serbian Church calendar. For example, St Tatiana, St Sophia and St Alexei of Rome, St Irenei of Lyons, St Hilary of Poitiers, St Vincent of Lerins, or St John Cassian and many Popes of Orthodox Rome, like St Leo the Great, St Gregory the Dialogist or St Martin I. However, saints in Western countries further from Serbia and who lived a little later are not known in Serbia. And yet these saints who lived at this time could travel to Jerusalem and Constantinople and take communion there and feel at home; the Church was One, whatever the difference of language and even rituals, the Faith was the same.

  • Have you ever been to Serbia? If yes, what are your impressions of our country?

Unfortunately, I have never visited Serbia and there are no Church-going Serbs in this part of England.

On the one hand, I have the impression of Orthodox in Serbia who are very faithful to the Tradition. On the other hand, I have the impression that few Serbs are really Orthodox, most are atheists and very nationalistic. I suppose this is the result of fifty years of brainwashing by Communism, mainly under the Croat Tito, and then of a generation of the ‘Soft Power’ brainwashing of Western Consumerism, which has produced the Facebook generation. They dress like Americans, listen to American music, watch American TV programmes and films and so think like Americans. I have read that 30% of the Serbian media is now American-owned. How can people resist?

I also have impressions from Serbian Orthodox I know. For example, I studied with the Serbian Bishop Luka in Paris at the Russian St Sergius Institute in the late 1970s and liked him a lot. The only other Serbian bishop I know is Metr Amfilochije. I much admire him. I greatly venerate St Nikolai of Zhicha (called in Russian St Nicholas the Serb) and have read many of his books, which have been translated into Russian and English. I also venerate St Justin of Chelije, a real Orthodox philosopher, as well as Patriarch Pavle. The latter has not yet been canonized, but this is only a matter of time.

  • Since I know you that you have relations with the SOC (Serbian Orthodox Church) and that you have visited the Saint Sava Church in London, tell us please, how do you feel in the company of our people in England?

Perfectly at home. We have exactly the same Faith and values. We belong to the same Orthodox Civilization and are proud, in the good sense, of this. In today’s Europe, there are only two Civilizations: Anti-Christian, Secularist Western Post-Civilization and Christian, Orthodox Civilization. We are opposites. We should ask ourselves every day: Which Civilization and Empire do we belong to and confess: to the Anti-Christian Globalist Empire or to the Christian Empire, to the Secularist Empire or to the Orthodox Empire?

We have our own Civilization, our own Empire, stretching from Bosnia to the shores of the Pacific, with dependent outposts and oases of Orthodoxy all over the world, as in Colchester. We belong to this, it is our identity, regardless of our nationality and language, because we have the same Faith and Church. We Orthodox do not have the same values as the rest of the world and our Civilization and Empire is the only Alternative to Western Anti-Civilization.

A Serb who is not Orthodox is not a Serb, but either some sort of Titoist or else an American of the MacDonald’s Post-Civilization. In the same way a Russian who is not Orthodox is not Russian, but Soviet. And an Englishman who is not Orthodox or not close to Orthodoxy in some way through faith, is not English, but British. He is, consciously or unconsciously, an imperialist who has little time for truth or love, only for self-interest and imaginary superiority over others whom he can exploit.

  • Please tell us your views upon the latest events regarding the actions of Greek Church recognizing Ukrainian Orthodox Church?

It is all very simple. As you may know, the present US ambassador in Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, used to be the US ambassador in Kiev. So it is clear that this is all just another American game, started by Obama, using flattery, threats or bribery, as is their technique. However, whatever the great pressure the US elite exerts on weak Greek bishops to recognize these Fascist schismatics in the semi-Uniat western Ukraine, I am ashamed of them. Whether because they are cowards or they have been bribed with dollars, these bishops are wrong. How can these bishops be so racist and weak and trample underfoot the basic canons of the Church, which every first-year seminarian knows? This is shameful. If there is no repentance, a terrible event will visit Greece for the apostasy of some of its bishops. God is not mocked. May the Orthodox bishops of Greece, like my contemporary, Metr Seraphim of Piraeus, triumph.

  • What are your relations with the ROC like? 

Relations with it?!! But I belong to the Russian Orthodox Church!

There is only one Russian Orthodox Church, whatever the administrative differences of its various parts. There are several autonomous parts of the Russian Church, the Churches of Japan and China, the self-governing New-York-based Church Outside Russia which I belong to, the Ukrainian, Moldovan and Latvian Churches, the Belorussian Exarchate etc. But we are all one, we all belong to the same Church and commemorate the same Patriarch.

  • What are your views on Constantinople? 

Until the twentieth century, the Patriarchate of Constantinople was the plaything of the Turks and the British or French ambassadors in Istanbul. Everybody knew that the nomination to the Patriarchate could be bought for money. The bishops in Istanbul were finally bought by the Anglicans in the 1920s for £100,000 and so their freemason candidate, (he became a mason in a British Lodge on Cyprus in 1909), Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis introduced by force the Papist calendar. After the fall of the British Empire after 1945, its role was taken up by the American Empire, which continued its dirty work.

So the last legitimate Patriarch, Maximos V, was removed by the Americans by force in 1948 on the orders of the war criminal Truman, who had just slaughtered nearly 500,000 Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Patriarch Maximos was too Orthodox for American tastes and was kidnapped and taken in Truman’s personal aeroplane into exile in Switzerland.

I used to know a Greek deacon who was an eyewitness to these events. He later became the Greek bishop in Birmingham in England. In 1948 the Americans behaved like thugs, cowboys, they were very violent. Patriarch Maximos was replaced by the Greek-American Archbishop Athenagoras – and we know how that ended. Since then most of the bishops of Constantinople have just been American puppets, without any spiritual relevance. One of them recently held an LGBT Conference with a ‘transvestite Orthodox theologian’!

  • English history is specific in many ways. Can we say that England was Orthodox until 1066 (12 years longer after 1054)?

The Western Schism was a gradual process, it spread over time and in some ways is not complete even today. It led to the invention of Roman Catholicism in 1054, but began much earlier than 1054, in the late eighth century under the heretic and iconoclast Frank Charlemagne. He was a barbarian who wanted to revive the pagan Roman Empire, with himself, naturally, as its Emperor. So that is what he did, setting up in 800 ‘the First Reich’. (Bismarck invented the Second Reich and Hitler the Third Reich; some say that the Fourth Reich is the EU). They called this revived paganism ‘The Holy Roman Empire’, but in fact it was Unholy and Anti-Roman.

This alien mentality of Schism spread from the Franco-German heartland (where later the EU began) all over Western and Eastern Europe, and eventually to the islands and so England too. It is clear that from about the Year 1000, and even before that, England was falling to these heterodox influences. 1066 marked the end of Orthodox influence in England, but the decadence was there already, especially under the half-Norman King, Edward (1042-1066). (Like Charlemagne, this traitor is called a saint by Roman Catholics!). 1054 (or in England 1066) is the end of the initial process of Schism, the conclusion of its fall from communion with the Church, not its beginning. Therefore we have to look carefully at what went on previously, before we can say whether it was Orthodox or not.

  • Do you think there are things in common between Serbia and England?

Strangely enough, yes.

Serbia is like the front line of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first bastion of Orthodoxy, just a few hundred kilometres from Rome. This is why the West hates Orthodox Serbia and wants to destroy it – because it loves Christ, whereas it loves Antichrist, for whom it works to bring in his reign. On the other hand, England today is like the front line of the USA, the first bastion of Anti-Orthodoxy. Nobody can forget how British airmen dropped bombs on Serbia at Easter 1999, marked ‘Happy Easter’. That was Satanic. So any Orthodox in England survive like soldiers in the trenches; and actually that is the same situation as for Serbs today. You too are soldiers in the trenches under the spiritual bombardment of the anti-Christian barbarians every day. This is what we have in common, we are both on the edges, advanced posts in the struggle for the Church of God.

  • Is there anything you would like to say to Orthodox Serbian people from your perspective?

Yes, just one thing: Stand firm in Orthodoxy! The more you resist the onslaught of the West, the US and its EU, NATO and IMF vassals, the greater the example of spiritual courage you give to Orthodox everywhere and, at the same time, the closer you draw to Christ and so to salvation. The West threw Communism and Nazism at us and we defeated both of them. For all extremes come from the demons, as the Holy Fathers say. We Orthodox shall defeat Liberal Secularism, which hates Christ just as much as Communism and Nazism, as well. Let us Orthodox show our courage, that we fear no man, that we fear only God. Then no-one can defeat us.

 

Towards a Map of Western European Holiness

By origin the word Europe means ‘the land of the sunset’, that is, the west, for it lies at the western tip of the 54.5 million square kilometres of the Eurasian Continent. Measuring 10.5 million square kilometres, only one fifth of the whole of Eurasia, Europe from a Church viewpoint can be divided into three parts. Over 50%, or 5.5 million square kilometres, 4.5 million square kilometres in Russia and just over 1 million in the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is canonical Russian Orthodox territory. The second part covers 1.4 million square kilometres and is the territory of various Local Orthodox Churches, the Romanian, Serbian (whose territory includes all of ex-Yugoslavia), Greek, Bulgarian, Polish, Czecho-slovak, and Albanian. This is two-thirds of Europe. There remains the final third of 3.6 million square kilometres.

This may be called Western Europe, even though it includes Central Europe, Hungary and Finland. The name can be justified because this part of Europe has for nearly one thousand years been isolated from the Church. This was as a result of the spiritual delusions, and so intellectual and political disaffection, jealousy and hostility towards the Church, of the governing elite of Western Europe. In other words, this is ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe. Going from west to east and north to south, this means the 25 countries of: Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles (the three countries of Wales, England and Scotland), Norway, Denmark (and the Faeroes), Sweden, Finland; the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany; France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary; Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, San Marino and Malta.

There exist many maps of this Western Europe. Some show the borders of the various states and the main cities; others show seas and lakes, hills and mountains; others show population density; others show the main roads and railways; others show the longevity of the population. And yet, although a millennium ago this Western Europe had a history of holiness, that is, of Orthodoxy, because this history has been forgotten, there is as yet no map showing the places hallowed by its saints who received the holiness brought to it from the east. If we drew up such a map of its saints, we would find huge variations. For example, in the very sparsely-populated Nordic countries, over one third of the area, we find little holiness, with no known native saints in Iceland and Finland and only a handful in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

However, in the rest of this Western Europe we find a very different situation. The centre of its holiness is what is now Italy (and San Marino), close to the source of the Faith in the East with the capital of Rome. From here holiness spread north to Gaul, now France, the second centre of holiness, to southern England and from there to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and from there to Austria and Hungary. From Gaul holiness also spread east to Switzerland, south and west to Andorra, Spain and Portugal, and north to what is now Belgium and above all to the thebaid of saints in Ireland, converted by the monastic life brought to them from Egypt via Gaul. Their influence spread back to east and south, to all the Celtic lands, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, and also to northern England, Belgium, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The first saints of this First Western Europe are of course the leading apostles, Peter and Paul, together with St James the Apostle in Galicia, as well as a huge number of internationally-venerated martyrs, especially in Rome, like St Pancras of Taormina (1st cent.),  St Clement (100), St Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107), Sts Sophia, Hope, Faith and Love (2nd cent.), St Tatiana (225), St Cecilia (230), St Hippolytus of Rome (c. 235), St Agatha (251), St Lawrence (258), St Eugenia (262), Sts Chrysanthus and Daria (283), Sts Sebastian and Comps (287), St Maurice of Agaunum and the Theban Legion (287), St Anastasia of Rome (304), St Lucy of Syracuse (304), Sts Agapia, Chionia and Irene (304), St Vincent of Spain (304), St Eulalia of Barcelona (304), St Januarius of Pozzuoli (c. 305), St Alban of Verulamium (c. 305), St Pancras (early 4th cent), St Agnes (c. 350).

It includes Church Fathers like St Justin Martyr (165),  St Irinei of Lyon (200), St Hilary of Poitiers (368), St Ambrose of Milan (387), St John Cassian (433), St Vincent of Lerins (445), Blessed Jerome of Stridon (c. 420), St Leo the Great (461), St Gregory the Great, called the Dialogist (604), St Maximus the Confessor (662). It includes pious bishops with Gallo-Romans like St Martial of Limoges (c. 250), St Saturninus of Toulouse (257), St Julian of Le Mans (Cenomansis) (3rd cent), St Paulinus of Nola (431), St Germanus of Auxerre (448), then later St Remigius (533), St Germanus of Paris (576), St Gregory of Tours (594), St Leander (601), St Valery (621), St Fulgentius (633), St Isidore of Seville (636), St Eligius (660), St Omer (670), St Amand (675), St Julian of Toledo (690), St Lambert (705), St Hubert (727), St Gregory of Utrecht (776).

It includes monastic founders like St Martin the Merciful of Tours (397), St Genevieve of Paris (500), St Benedict of Nursia (550), St Martin of Braga (580), St David of Wales (589), St Columba of Iona, Enlightener of Scotland (597), St Columban of Luxeuil (615), St Hilda of Whitby (680), St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (687), St Odile of Alsace (720). It includes confessors who evangelized whole stretches of this Europe, like the Roman-Britons St Ninian, Apostle of the Picts (450), St Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland (461), the English St Willibrord-Clement in the Netherlands (739) and St Boniface of Fulda, martyred in Frisia (754), St Anschar of Hamburg (865). It includes pious kings and queens, St Bathilde (545), St Oswald (642), St Clotilde (680), St Edmund of East Anglia (869), St Edward the Martyr (879), St Olaf of Sweden (950), St Olaf of Norway (1030).

The list of saints is immense. There are some ten thousand names of saints of Western Europe, martyrs and confessors, men and women, internationally-venerated and only locally-venerated, some with highly detailed lives, others little more than names. Forty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of England, despite the lack of any encouragement. Then thirty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of what is now France. However, that work was interrupted by the negativity of the then Exarchate in Paris and other concerns, one of which was work on the Saints of Iberia twenty-five years ago. That work helped lead to their recent adoption into a feast of the Diocese of Iberia under Archbishop Nestor. Now with a real Russian Exarchate for Western Europe in Paris, we will be turning our attention back to the Saints of what is now France.

The Imperial Guard to Light the Lamps of Europe

The warning came to Europe at Fatima over a hundred years ago in 1917, through the last innocent European children in provincial Portugal: If you do not repent, you will end up like the atheist Soviet Union and so suffer yet another period of bloodletting with tens of millions dead. And so it come to that and since then neither Catholicism, because it pharisaically deformed the message of Fatima, nor its offshoot Protestantism, has repented and so returned to Orthodoxy, even after so many chances given. Thus, Western Europe has become a self-justifying Sodom and Gomorrah. Meanwhile, in the former Soviet Union itself, atheism collapsed, 100 million were baptised and people are gradually, returning to an active and meaningful Faith and the values and culture of Christian Civilization.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. Now it has neither identity, nor nation, nor honour. This is why it says: Kill them like pigs; they are only human-beings. And though the incinerators of Hitler have gone, they are open in European hospitals and clinics to burn the bodies of millions of murdered children every year and of hundreds of those who, having lost faith, have chosen euthanasia-suicide, and they are open in cemeteries to burn up the bodies of the dead, as nothing but biowaste, the rationalization of Hitler, who had human bodies made into soap and human skin made into lampshades.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. It has no other source of knowledge or apprehension of the world except itself and so, looking at its own sorry self-reflection, it has become dependent on anti-depressants of all names, legal and illegal. This is why Europe no longer has anything of spiritual or moral import to say to the world, for spiritual life, which it denies, is the source of moral life. Having lost the first, it has lost the second, and so wastes itself in futility and superficiality, following ‘religiously’ every passing fad and fancy, however absurd and defiguring, without any moral compass or direction.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. This is why it invents its own self-justifying morality, which is only hypocrisy and contradiction, as is apparent to every civilization outside Europe and even to those who still believe but still live in Europe. It is especially obvious to Russian and other faithful Orthodox who live in Europe. We are Europeans, but we are also Christians and so have nothing in common with the spiritual illness of the Anti-Civilization of Western Secularism, which pervades the anti-people European elites and their self-deluded elitist fake news media. Theirs is the path to suicide, a path they celebrate as ‘freedom’.

This is why we must pray to the Saints of Old Europe to save it, for they evangelized it; this is why we must value the oldest places of Europe, often the most famous, for they exist because they were founded in the first millennium, when Europe was still authentically Christian, that is, Orthodox. This is why, in the cities and towns and villages and once holy places and shrines of Europe, we must light the lamps, witnessing to the peoples who live here that there was – and is – Another Europe, the Old Europe, the Europe of the Saints of God, the Europe that loves Truth and Mercy, the First Europe, ‘the Europe before Europe’, which never accepted its thousand-year long aberration, from which it must first be cleansed.

Let faithful Orthodox therefore form an Imperial Guard, a Europe-wide force of dedicated Orthodox, whose emblem is the double-headed eagle, the words ‘For the Faith’ written underneath the emblem in the language of the guard, male or female, and, underneath that, his or her national flag. This would channel the idealism of all faithful Orthodox, including young people, perhaps organized in detachments dedicated to the local national saint, deepening our identity and purpose. Keeping faith with the Orthodox Empire, at present Emperor-less, we are asked to call Europe, many centuries ago part of our Empire (read St Bede the Venerable), to repentance, to save Europe, people by people, by ourselves being faithful to and witnessing to the Church of God.

Let us rewrite each of the national anthems of Europe, with new words, keeping only the melodies. This will be the Europe that has an identity, nation and family, that has strength and honour, because it confesses the Faith of Christ, the lodestar of our lives.  In every Imperial Guard home and family in Europe let us light a lamp before the holy images as the lamp that burns within the soul of each Imperial guard as we pray there. Praying and working, we await the return of the Christian Emperor. Let us prepare the places where we live for his coming, so that he may not be ashamed to visit us when he comes. Let us now therefore cleanse our homes and, above all, cleanse our hearts.

Holy Suffolk

Holiness is the Christian Orthodox ideal: we look not at rank or riches, but at holiness, for it is one of the four signs of the Church and the one which is personally accessible.  It is why all Orthodox speak of the Holy Land, the Holy Mountain, Holy Russia and of making pilgrimages to holy places, the places of the saints. Locally, in England, we speak of Holy Island, the monastery of St Cuthbert in Lindisfarne, and also of one county as holy: Holy Suffolk. What is the origin of this latter name?

When the pagan Danes invaded the Kingdom of East Anglia in the ninth century, martyring St Edmund in Hoxne, among the ‘southern folk’ of the Kingdom, later called Suffolk, they found so many churches and so much piety that they called the region ‘gesaelig’, meaning ‘blessed’ or ‘holy’. This by corruption in the Middle Ages became ‘seely’ and today ‘silly’, hence the name ‘Silly Suffolk’. Incidentally, the root of this word is the same as the Greek ‘salos’, which means foolish for Christ; any fool for Christ’s sake is known as ‘salos’ in Greek. As the Apostle Paul writes, foolishness (‘silliness’) in this world is wisdom before God.

Thus, we know that there were already 417 churches in Suffolk in 1066 – for a population that could not then have been more than 50,000: one church for every hundred or so people. Moreover, what had become known at that time as Suffolk (the region of the southern folk of East Anglia) was by the twelfth century divided into three parts: about one third in the south-east was called St Audrey’s Liberty, for this centred on Rendlesham, which had been owned by St Audrey (pedants call her ‘Etheldreda’). She was baptised by St Felix who lived there and after whom nearby Felixstowe, where St Felix founded a monastery, is named. The other two-thirds was divided into St Edmund’s Liberty or west Suffolk, centred on Bury St Edmunds, and into what was called the ‘Geldable’ (= the taxable, that is the area subject to central secular taxation). Thus some two-thirds of the modern county was dedicated to the Church, through St Audrey and St Edmund.

Indeed, a more or less straight diagonal line can be drawn from Felixstowe in the south-east corner of Suffolk, on to Bury St Edmunds and then to Ely, which borders Suffolk,  just beyond its north-west corner. The monastery in Ely had been founded by St Audrey who had been born in nearby Exning in Suffolk. This straight line forms a heavenly path for pilgrims, a spiritual way, a mystical road, connecting the three best-known saints of Suffolk: St Felix, Apostle of East Anglia, St Edmund, King of East Anglia and St Audrey of Ely. This is part of that mystical conscience of the other England, beyond modern traffic and roads, towns and shops, noise and bustle. It is a tiny fragment of holiness in today’s Suffolk, pointing us to our Orthodox destiny.

Holy, Felix, Audrey and Edmund, pray to God for us!

 

 

 

 

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, as it is on a dry area and earlier known as Croiland and Croyland) 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. Timbers are preserved in the present Crowland Abbey and some say that these were part of the cell in which St Guthlac lived. His relics could be buried in this area. 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 (pronounced Pea-ga) 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 on a barrow in what is now the tiny and tranquil village of Peakirk (‘Pega’s church’) near Peterborough (in historic Cambridgeshire) and 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. Some think that her relics may be buried there to this day, beneath the chancel of a former small chapel, now known as St Pega’s hermitage and a private house, where she had lived.

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). Some think that a skull conserved in Crowland Abbey, though sadly unavailable for veneration, may be that of St Theodore.

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.