Category Archives: Ancient Western Holiness

Holy Sussex: Three Southern Saints

Introduction

Having written of the saints of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, I have been asked to write of the saints of the fourth of the seven early English kingdoms, Sussex, the Kingdom of the South Saxons. Though not so far to the south of London, just beyond Surrey and Kent and stretching to the south coast, hence ‘Sussex by the sea’, Sussex has a reputation for being separate from the rest of England. Perhaps this is because of its downs, or hills, and forest, which in times past cut it off from others. In any case, as a result, just like the people of Essex, local people, in both east and west Sussex, have a reputation for independence and an aversion to being forced into anything. This is expressed in the Sussex motto, ‘We wunt be druv’ (We won’t be driven/pushed around).

The English settlement of Sussex began in the year 477 with a certain leader Aelle, who landed on the coast, consolidated his territory and was eventually recognised as the first overlord of southern Britain. By the second half of the seventh century the western corner of Sussex around Selsey and Chichester had become the political centre of the kingdom. In the 660s-670s King Ethelwalh of Sussex formed an alliance with the Mercian King Wulfhere. As Mercia’s first Christian king, Wulfhere insisted that Ethelwalh convert to Christianity. Wilfrid, the exiled Bishop of York and future saint, came to Sussex in 681 and with King Ethelwalh’s approval set up a mission to convert Sussex to Christ, his centre in Selsey.

At the end of the 8th century, Aldwulf was probably the last independent king of Sussex, after which Sussex like others came increasingly under Mercian rule. But Mercia’s grip was in turn shattered in 825, when Sussex and the other southern kingdoms came under the control of Wessex which later grew into the kingdom of England. Orthodox Sussex is marked by three saints. These are:

St Leofwynn (Lewina/Lewinna), Protomartyr of Sussex (+ c. 670)

Sussex was the last of the seven kingdoms of England to become Christian and east Sussex remained pagan longest of all. However, even before St Wilfrid’s organized missionary labours in 681, there were isolated Christians here. For example, a Sussex man called Damian had become Bishop of Rochester in Kent in the 650s and King Ethelwalh had been baptised before St Wilfrid. And before Wilfrid there was for a time a small monastery of five or six monks at Bosham in west Sussex, founded in c. 670 by a wandering Irish monk called Dicul (Deicola), later St Dicul (feast: 18 April).

St Leofwynn was another such isolated Sussex Christian, being martyred in c. 670, almost certainly by fellow countrymen who were still pagan and she was not a Briton, as can be ascertained by her name. About three centuries after her martyrdom her wonderworking relics were solemnly translated to a St Andrew’s church near Seaford in east Sussex, so the place of her sufferings must have been nearby. This St Andrew’s church where her miraculous relics were venerated in early English times was perhaps in Alfriston, an attractive village four miles from Seaford. However, others have suggested nearby Bishopstone, which also has a church dedicated to St Andrew dating back to the eighth century.

Most of our knowledge of St Leofwynn comes from an account of the theft of her relics in 1058 for a monastery in Berg in Flanders. After the Norman occupation nearly every memory of the saint disappeared in England, though she was a much-loved intercessor in her new home. In 1558 Berg was captured by French Protestants and the relics of Saint Leofwynn disappeared except for one rib. This was venerated at the monastery until the French Revolution when it disappeared. In 1928 a priest in Berg rediscovered the relic, but when his church was almost destroyed during a bombardment in the Second World War the relic was lost. St Leofwynn’s feast day is 24 July.

St Wilfrid, Apostle of Sussex (+ c. 709)

Sussex became a diocese when St Wilfrid began to convert the pagan kingdom between 681 and 685. St Wilfrid (c. 633 – c. 709) was a Northumbrian noble who became a monk and then Bishop of Northumbria. Exiled by the Northumbrian king who had quarrelled with him, Bishop Wilfrid spent these years of exile in Selsey in west Sussex, where he founded his see with a monastery on an estate of 87 hides, granted to him by King Ethelwalh. Here in the Manhood peninsula he began converting the pagan inhabitants to Christianity, before returning to Northumbria under its new king.

St Bede attributed Bishop Wilfrid’s ability to begin to convert Sussex in part to his teaching them how to fish. He also wrote that the Sussex area had been experiencing a drought for three years before Wilfrid, but miraculously when he arrived and started baptising converts, it began to rain. Bishop Wilfrid worked with another future saint, Erconwald, Bishop of London, in helping to set up the church in Sussex.

His mission was jeopardised when King Ethelwalh died during an invasion of his kingdom by Caedwalla of Wessex. However, Bishop Wilfrid had previously had contact with Cædwalla and may have served as his spiritual advisor before he invaded. And after Ethelwalh’s death Bishop Wilfrid became one of the new king’s advisors and he was converted. Cædwalla confirmed Ethelwalh’s grant of land in Selsey and Wilfrid built his cathedral nearby at the entrance to Pagham Harbour, in what is now Church Norton.

Cædwalla also sent Wilfrid west to the still pagan Isle of Wight with the aim of converting the inhabitants. The King gave Bishop Wilfrid a quarter of the land on the island as a gift. In 688 the King gave up his throne and went on a pilgrimage to Rome to be baptised, but died shortly afterwards. St Wilfrid may have been involved in founding monasteries in other parts of Sussex, but the evidence for this is based only on wording used in founding charters which resembles that used by him in other charters.

After this mission, Christians in Sussex were placed in the Diocese of Winchester and it was not until c. 715 that Edbert, Abbot of Selsey, was consecrated the first Bishop of Sussex. There were eventually around fifty monastic (minster) churches across Sussex and these centres supplied clergy for the surrounding areas. Examples are at Steyning, Singleton, Lyminster, Findon and Bishopstone. The jurisdiction of each of these churches seems to have matched the early land divisions, called rapes.

Thus, it was not until 200–300 years after conversion to Christianity began in the 680s that a network of local parish churches came into existence in Sussex, the earliest being recorded at Henfield in central Sussex in 770. Several monasteries were also established here in the early English period in, for example, Selsey, Lyminster, Aldingbourne, Beddingham, Chichester, Bosham, Ferring and South Malling. In 1075 the Normans transferred the cathedral for Sussex to nearby Chichester. The original cathedral at Selsey is now under the sea. St Wilfrid’s feast is on 12 October.

St Cuthman (Cuthmann) of Steyning

St Cuthman was born in about 681, probably at Chidham near Bosham in west Sussex. This would probably mean that St Wilfrid converted and baptised Cuthman and his parents. His life states that he was a shepherd who had to care for his paralysed mother after his father’s death.

According to one story, once while he was shepherding, Cuthman drew a line around the sheep with his staff so that he could leave to collect food. On his return he found that the flock had not left the invisible boundary. This miracle may have taken place in a field near Chidham, which for centuries was known as ‘St Cuthman’s Field’ or ‘St Cuthman’s Dell’. It was said that a large stone in the field on which the shepherd was in the habit of sitting had miraculous properties.

When Cuthman and his mother fell on hard times and were forced to beg from door to door, he built a one-wheeled cart, with a rope from the handles over his shoulders taking part of the weight, in which he moved her around with him. One day Cuthman and his mother set out east from his home, heading towards the rising sun. When the rope broke he improvised a new one from withies, deciding that when that broke he would accept it as a sign from God to stop at that place and build a church there.

The withy rope broke at a place called Steyning, some 25 miles from his birthplace and inland from central Sussex, at which he prayed: “Father Almighty, Thou hast brought my wanderings to an end, now enable me to begin this work. For who am I, Lord, that I should build a house to Thy name? If I rely on myself it will be of no use, but Thou wilt help me. Thou hast given me the desire to be a builder, make up for my lack of skill and bring the work of building this holy house to its completion.”

For, after building a hut for his mother and himself, Cuthman began work on a wooden church which he decided to dedicate to the fisherman-saint, Andrew, with help from the locals. As the church was nearing completion and Cuthman was having difficulty with a roof-beam, a stranger showed him how to mend it. When Cuthman asked his name, he replied: ‘I am he in whose name you are building this church’. We do not know when Cuthman reposed, but we can imagine it would have been in about 730.

Steyning became an important religious centre and St Cuthman’s grave became a place of pilgrimage in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In charters of William the Conqueror Steyning was sometimes called St Cuthman’s Market or St Cuthman’s Parish. At his birthplace at Chidham there developed a Guild of St Cuthman. Though he dedicated the church he founded at Steyning to St Andrew, the parish was recently rededicated to St Andrew and St Cuthman. A picture of him with his handcart is on Steyning’s town sign. His feast day is 8 February.

Conclusion

In September 1066 the Norman invaders landed at Pevensey in east Sussex near Kent and nearby erected a wooden castle at Hastings, from which they plundered the surrounding area. Thus, the Battle of Hastings took place in Sussex, fought against the English King Harold, who had strong connections with Sussex and whose chief seat was probably in Bosham in the west. It is likely that all the fighting men of Sussex were at the battle, as the county’s chief men were decimated and any that survived had their lands confiscated. As the heartland of King Harold, Sussex experienced some of the greatest and most tragic changes of any English county under the Normans.

Its Orthodoxy supplanted, in later history the west of the county had a tendency towards Catholicism, while the east of the county had a tendency towards Protestantism. Today, even these fragments of the Faith have largely been lost, but the memory of the three saints of Sussex, who all lived and reposed within a century of one another, has not been lost: Leofwynn the martyr from the east on whose blood the Church was founded, Wilfrid, the Apostle of Sussex who worked in the west, and Cuthman, the holy layman who settled near the centre of Sussex. What a fine thing it would be if one day an Orthodox church could be founded in Sussex, perhaps in its one city, Brighton, with its large population located very centrally along the coast between east and west, and dedicated to St Andrew the First-Called Apostle and the Three Saints of Sussex.

Hopes for the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Diocese in the British Isles and Ireland

55 years ago, in 1962, St John of Shanghai left London and our local ROCOR diocese with these prophetic words: ‘I entrust you to the care of St Alban, your Protomartyr’. This was indeed the case, for St John was succeeded by two elderly and ill bishops who spoke little English, and then for thirty years the Diocese had no resident bishop. With just occasional visits to the small London parish, the result was that the Diocese nearly died out. Everything changed in March 2016, when the parishes of the Diocese, in profound crisis, one by one asked for direct pastoral care from His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) and a young and dynamic assistant bishop in the USA, who at once saw the enormous frustrated potential and were in favour of venerating St Alban and all the local saints. This was effectively a ROCOR Brexit. (Moreover, with pressure from ROCOR in England, in March 2017 St Alban was at long last officially included in the Russian Orthodox calendar by the Synod in Moscow).

With a stream of new clergy and two more priests to come shortly, with, for the first time in its history, representatives in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall, the Anglo-Celtic Orthodox Diocese of the Isles is at last moving forward. This is to be affirmed on 13 May with the first Diocesan pilgrimage to St Alban in St Albans, just as St John wanted 55 years ago. With support from new bishops, the once exhausted clergy and people of the Diocese are now looking to the future. In the Eastern half of England, with four priests (none of them Russian), two of them looking after the new parishes in Norwich and Bury St Edmunds and two in Colchester, and perhaps another priest and deacon to come, we can now at last look to catering for the vast and still unmet pastoral challenges in the region. Massive immigration from Orthodox Eastern Europe over the last twelve years has created a huge pastoral crisis, which official Orthodox representatives have failed to deal with.

True, the untrained, former Anglican clerics of the Antiochian jurisdiction, which has no ethnic constituency or liturgical or other tradition, has picked up mainly modernistic and unChurched immigrants who do not confess, but has not for the most part been able to Church them. The Balkan jurisdictions have shown little interest in pastoral care for their own economic refugees. The Russian jurisdictions also. One, until recently obsessed with the centralizing, inward-looking cult of a dead man and false ethnic problems, which together created a very harmful schism, is almost infrastructure-less as a result of a total lack of vision. The other, also once London-centred, long paralysed by a dead and inward-looking nationalistic cult of the past and unwilling to implement the missionary activity that would have taken place if it had not become nationalistic, has also lacked any sense of reality and hope for the future. A lack of vision always means a lack of mission. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.

Cut free of the deadwood of the past, all is now possible, at least for ROCOR. What are our next targets after the new parishes of St John of Shanghai in Colchester (Essex), St Alexander Nevsky in Norwich (Norfolk) and St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk)? It is to set up five more viable communities, faithful to the uncompromised Orthodox Tradition of the Russian Church, but fully open to the native languages and peoples in the eastern half of England in:

1. Cambridgeshire – Ely / March/ Wisbech, dedicated to St Audrey.
2. Kent – Canterbury, dedicated to Christ the Saviour.
3. Yorkshire – York, dedicated to Sts Constantine and Helen.
4. South London – Croydon, dedicated to St John of Kronstadt.
5. North London – St Albans, dedicated to St Alban.

Outside the East, we also see possibilities.

6. Scotland, where there is a great need to incorporate the rich and pure Gaelic Orthodox Tradition of Mary, Columba and Brigid into the Church.

7. Cornwall, the peninsula of ancient Celtic saints, born out of the Egyptian monastic tradition of Orthodoxy, dedicated to St Antony the Great.

These seven targets are very modest: ultimately, beyond them there are many, many other places that need looking after, from Sussex to the Midlands and the North-East. Our ultimate aim is to own one permanent church and one trained priest, that is, to have liturgical centres, in each county of each of the four countries in the Isles, with at least four in London. At least continuing with these seven targets after the first three would start to reverse the disastrous decades of backward-looking and inward-looking indifference, abandonment and neglect. At least this would be a beginning. The long backlog of candidates for the clergy, who have been patiently waiting for years, are now being ordained. But there is far, very far, to go, after the four wasted decades in the battle for survival against all the odds. It has been the wait and weight of a lifetime.

The Battle for the Soul of the Anglosphere

The term Anglosphere has come to be used to mean the English world, what old people used to call the White Commonwealth and the USA. Roughly it means the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Arguably, it could also include parts of South Africa and countries such as Ireland. The Anglospere in terms of power and finance is by far the most important part of the world, the part that others either copy or else fear, either admire or detest. Clearly, by far the most important part of this Anglosphere is the USA. Great Britain ceased being ‘Great’ a long time ago, but in fact the USA is today’s ‘Great’ Britain, as it continues the same policies as Great Britain did in its time of worldly glory, 100-200 years ago, only with all the power of modern technology.

Churchill accurately predicted that Britain would always prefer the USA (‘the ocean’) to mainland Europe. I remember a conversation in a famous French School of Management 25 years ago, when a Frenchman asked me why the UK was so ‘anti-European’ (= by which he meant anti-European Union – what he mistakenly believed to be a French project), as the UK is geographically not in Africa or Asia, but clearly in Europe. I answered simply that geography had nothing to do with it; blood is thicker than water, British people sent their Christmas cards to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, not to mainland Europe. At that point a German businessman in the class spoke the truth to the discomfort of the Frenchman (and also of many Englishmen), saying that for Germans of his generation Britain is simply ‘the front end of the USA’.

All this is politics, history and geography. But I mention it because it was not always so. Once the English, although politically weak and small in number, had saints and their main export was holiness. All this was over 1,000 years ago. Here then is the battle for the soul of the Anglosphere. To begin to return to that holiness or to continue as now, not just in England, but also to lead the Anglosphere gradually towards that, that is the question. A return is impossible? Probably that is so. After all, why have so few English-speaking (and also in general Western) people joined the Orthodox Church and then actually become Orthodox? Because they reject the depth of repentance vital after 1,000 years of layer after layer of heresy. Self-justification is much easier. But it is not enough to take a Greek name: being a Hellenophile is not Orthodoxy. What is necessary is the cleansing of souls that have been polluted and corrupted by an anti-Orthodox mentality and world-view and then to return to the saints.

The chances of our victory in the battle for the soul of the Anglosphere are minute. But that does not mean that some individual reparation is not possible and if many individuals were to choose this path, then surely there is still hope. Once, the Reformation, separation from Rome, led to excommunication. This led to the Tudor trading conquest of the world through pillage and tyranny. Brexit, separation from the Treaty of Rome, is leading to economic excommunication. This could lead to some new spiritual insight, some return to the holiness of the ancient past. Our God is the God of wonders.

Russian Church will include more Western saints in its calendar

Orthodoxy in the West will revive. There’ll be Orthodoxy in Britain and Ireland, in France and Germany, in Holland and Spain and in America, too! Every language and nation will have Holy Orthodoxy. This is the charge laid upon our Russian emigration for our repentance.

St John of Shanghai

Moscow, March 27, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate will continue to include the names of the saints venerated in the early West in its calendar.

“This process is not completed, it has only started,” said the head of the Synodal Department for External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, on the Church and the World programme on the Rossiya-24 TV channel.

As was reported, in early March the Patriarchate included in its calendar St. Patrick and 15 ancient saints glorified in the countries of Europe before the schism of 1054. St. Patrick the Enlightener of Ireland was among them. It was decided that he would be commemorated on 30 March according to the secular dating system.

According to Metropolitan Hilarion, these saints were included at the request of the many Russian Orthodox dioceses in Western Europe.

“There are also other Western saints whom I hope will also soon be included in the calendar of our Church,” said Metropolitan Hilarion.

He explained that the main criterion for including the name of the saint in the calendar is veneration of the saint in a certain locality. Besides this, this saint should have lived before the schism of 1054, “as everything that happened afterwards belongs to the separate history of the Orthodox Church and Catholicism.”

The hierarch noted that it was important that the person had not participated in struggle against Orthodoxy, “as happens with certain Western religious figures.”

He also said that he would not interpret the inclusion of Western saints in the Russian Orthodox Church calendar as a step towards drawing closer to local Church reality,” said the Metropolitan.

http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=13661

A Diocese is Reborn

Within a few weeks, the Russian Orthodox Church has gained a new diocese. This is the Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

For long become a tiny group of abandoned disparate parishes and orphaned, it has been reborn under His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion, whose secret is simply that he loves his flock. With many ordinations and tonsurings, we can now envisage a time when our diocese will grow enormously, with priests and parishes in Ireland north and south, in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and in an ever increasing number of major cities and towns in England. Out with the old and in with the new.

In this way our ROCOR Diocese can further develop our identity, not just as faithful heirs to the authentic and uncompromised Russian Orthodox Tradition from pre-Revolutionary times, with our love for all the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Imperial Martyrs, but also as faithful heirs to our local Anglo-Celtic saints and our local languages. We stand as a foundation of a future Local Church in Western Europe, for we are local, self-governing, independent, but also faithfully incarnated in the Russian Orthodox Tradition.
Thank you, Vladyko!

St Alban Now Venerated in Russia

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has today inserted another 15 Western saints into the universal Russian Orthodox calendar, who had not previously been included there. They include St Alban of Britain, St Patrick of Ireland and St Genevieve of Paris. In its decision the Holy Synod referred to the list of such saints drawn up by St John of Shanghai 65 years ago in 1952.

This is a victory for St John of Shanghai and all of us who, faithfully following in his footsteps, have for several decades venerated these saints and named our children after them. This is particularly so in the case of St Alban, whose inclusion we have worked so hard for in the last ten years.

Self-Obsession

The last few months have seen the Western elite furious with Western peoples. The self-obsessed Western elite, led by such has-beens and failures as Obama, Clinton, Blair, Hollande and Merkel, has brought its media to campaign against the people and their choices. In its censorship of free speech through the Soviet-style tyranny of political correctness, it arrogantly denies the people freedom. It patronizingly tells them that they are so stupid that they are unable to make the correct choices, unlike them, the elite. Now, The ‘the enemies of the people’, such as Washington Post and The New York Times, so beloved by the ever-patronizing, anti-people BBC, together with the whole Western liberal Establishment, have been fully launched against the people’s choice of Brexit and Trump.

However, the liberal Western Establishment and its hireling media hacks are doomed. The Establishment is made up of yesterday’s men, who have tyrannized the people for over fifty years. A new generation is appearing, as the third generation (75 years) since the end of the Second World War ends. The old and debt-ridden, US-designed, anti-Hitler but Hitleresque Union, gradually cobbled together after 1945, the EU, as well as its grotesquely outmoded Cold War NATO military wing, has been discredited. It will probably not survive much longer. We look to the future, not to the past. The people, the once silent majority, are casting off the shackles of liberalism of the last 50 years.

After Brexit and then Trump, now there is Le Pen in France. The only serious candidate against Le Pen, Francois Fillon, was shot down by the French branch of the liberal Establishment because he claimed to be a Christian. (If he was indeed corrupt, as the Establishment asserted, he was no more so than the whole French mafia elite). So blinded was the French Establishment by its hatred for a Christian that they destroyed him – who was probably their only hope of clinging on to power. Thus, they probably destroyed the only serious rival to Le Pen, so cutting off their nose to spite their face. Self-obsession is indeed blinding. If Marion Le Pen wins in France, the European Union, and so the sodomization of Europe, will be over.

The Russian Federation has led the way in the Western movement back to Western Christian roots. This is not because of some innate Russian superiority – it is simply because the Russian Federation has in its predecessor already been through, and survived, what the liberal Western Establishment is planning to create in the West: a new Soviet Union. It was no coincidence that the Soviet Union ended a few days before the European Union began. Just as the tyrannical Unionist Soviet dictatorship ended in disaster in the destroyed Russian Empire, so too the tyrannical Unionist Brussels dictatorship EU/NATO dictatorship is ending in disaster in the destroyed Western European empires.

The Russian Empire, still in fragments on its margins after 100 years since the 1917 catastrophe, though with 76% of its territory surviving intact in the form of the Russian Federation, has reminded the Western world of its roots and true destiny. They are not in futile consumerism and vain narcissism, but in Christ and His Saints. It is still not clear that the Western world will listen to the Russian experience and defeat of militant atheism; the liberal elite is fighting hard, with its usual mixture of disdain, slander and ‘fake news’, in favour of militant atheism against the Truth, which alone will set it free. However, the Saints of Western Europe (the real ones – from the first millennium, her roots) and the Saints of Russia, especially those of the last hundred years who defeated atheism, are a cloud of witnesses. They, together, are ignored at the peril of the West. He who has ears, let him hear.

St Olaf’s Burial Place Found

http://www.niku.no/no/arkeologi/utgravninger_og_funn/trondheim/sondre_gate/Archaeologists+in+Norway+find+the+church+and+altar+of+Viking+king+Olav+Haraldsson.9UFRHW16.ips

St Olaf was one of the last ancient Orthodox saints in Western Europe and he was honoured by a church in Novgorod and another in Constantinople. For a canonical Orthodox icon of St Olaf, see:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/98759.html