Category Archives: East of England

One Hundred and Twelve Saints of the English Thebaid

Introduction: The Fen Thebaid

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

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

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

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

The Fen Saints

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

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

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

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

St Felix, St Audrey and Ely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Guthlac and Crowland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fen Martyrs

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Academia or Holiness

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

 

 

 

Martyrs Under the Danes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eighteen Russian Orthodox Churches in the Eastern Half of England?

 Introduction: Pastoral/Missionary Experience since the 1970s

In reality, from the very beginning, Church life has always been a struggle against the world and its spirit, worldliness. This worldliness consists of politics, phyletism (a silly and complicated word for crude racism, Greek, Russian, Anglican, French and other, which has always treated us as third-class citizens), narcissism, guruism, phariseesism, sectarianism, favouritism, bureaucracy, sexual perversions, egomania, jealousy and all the other loveless and twisted pathologies.

I could not be ordained for four very good reasons: I was not ex-Anglican, not upper middle-class, I spoke Russian (so I could see through them) and, by far the worst sin of all, they knew that they could not buy me off as, Essex-born, I would always tell the Truth, the very thing they hated and hate the most, for ‘the Truth will set you free’. And the last thing they want is to be free; they prefer to be enslaved to their pathologies.

We can only hope that those who persecuted us in all these ways repented before they died or will repent before they die. The greatest sin of all of them has been their sheer absence of love. For without love, all of them, without exception, have been mere sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. We have not belonged to any ‘Church mafia’, but have been priests of God. I was not used until I was 50 and then it was all in spite of them. Persecution and internal exile were my lot, just as in the old Soviet Union, but I no longer have the energy of youth, when I could have done so much more. What a waste. But for that at least, I will not have to answer at the Last and Dread Judgement.

My direct Church experience over the last 45 years has been in England, in Oxford and Essex for 4 years, in Greece and Paris for one year each, in Cambridge and the Fens for 3 years and in France for 14 years until 1997. I have served in Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, USA and Australia and spent several months since the 1970s in Russia and the Ukraine and also in Belarus and Moldova. Since 1997 I have been back in England. Here I now cover up to 25,000 miles a year doing pastoral work all over the East, in five prisons and ten counties – Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Two Problems in the Diaspora and the Need for New Missions

  1. a) The first problem is the ideology of what may be called mononationalism (racism/phyletism), which forbids the liturgical use of other languages. We saw how the old ROCOR quite died out in this country in the 80s and 90s because of its suicidal mononationalism and how other Orthodox groups are now also dying out for exactly the same reason. We have also seen mononationalism (this time Anglican-style) of those who impose English only, with obligatory communion, no confession and the new calendar, in other words, the old-fashioned convert-style ’Anglican Orthodoxy’, which should have died decades ago.
  2. b) The second is the chronic lack of infrastructure, due to the lack of missionary vision of the episcopate of the past, and so today’s disastrous lack of our own premises, priests, singers and finance.

Every few months I am contacted by someone to open a Russian Orthodox mission in the Eastern half of England. This means in the six official regions of the East of England, London, the South-East, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North-East, with a total population of 37 million. (The Western half of England, meaning the three more Celtic official regions of the South-West, the West Midlands and the North-West, together with the three Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, totals 34 million. Thus, IONA, the Isles of the North Atlantic, has a total population of 71 million).

We recall that all missions must be in centres of population, where there is already a living and authentic Russian Orthodox presence, as in the three living parishes under Sourozh, that is, in the ex-Parisian one in London and the small ex-ROCOR parishes in Oxford and Manchester (which latter is outside our Eastern area). Also all new missions must be accessible to the general public, in places where Orthodox already live, and not be in isolated, essentially private, locations.

The Three Old Missions of the Two Russian Dioceses and Five New Missions

1-3. London and Oxford

The two churches in London, at present of two different dioceses, though not very big and not very central, have long catered for Russian Orthodox in central London, the West End and the western suburbs. However, it is clear that those who live in the east and north of the Capital are poorly looked after. The small church in Oxford, founded by Fr Nicholas Gibbes, effectively already looks after Orthodox in Oxfordshire, North Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

  1. Colchester (Essex and South Suffolk). St John of Shanghai. This parish is our property, bought in 2008 with £180,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site. It was dedicated to our Archbishop in London (1950-1962), to whom our original mission in Felixstowe was also dedicated.
  2. Norwich (Norfolk and North Suffolk). St Alexander Nevsky. This parish is our property, bought in 2016 with £65,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site. Since our first parishioners here were from Tallinn in Estonia, the parish was dedicated to the patron of the Tallinn Cathedral.
  3. Bury St Edmunds = Cambridgeshire (Cambridgeshire, West Suffolk, East Bedfordshire, North Hertfordshire). Sts Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov (Faith, Hope and Love) and their Mother Sophia. Our hope is to move our mission from Bury St Edmunds to a suitable location in Cambridgeshire. In Cambridge itself land is far too expensive and parking nearly impossible. A new mission would cater for those at the present missions in Bury St Edmunds (though many here go to Colchester at present), Wisbech (though some here would go to Boston – see below), in Peterborough, and also for Orthodox in Ely, Chatteris and March, merging them. I served in Bury from 2000 to 2002 and have now been there again for nearly two years, as also in Wisbech. The area includes St Felix’s 7th century monastery in Soham, St Audrey’s birthplace in Exning and her monastery in Ely, St Huna’s hermitage near Chatteris, St Pandwyna’s hermitage in Eltisley and St Edmund’s monastery in Bury.
  4. Wisbech = Boston (South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk, North Cambridge-shire). St Matrona and St Botolph. Our hope is to move our mission from Wisbech to Boston for those in the present missions in Wisbech and King’s Lynn, but including Orthodox in Holbeach and Spalding. All around live thousands of Eastern European fen workers. I have visited Orthodox in Spalding and the area.
  5. Ashford = ? (South-East London, Kent, East Sussex). The Royal Martyrs. We must have a mission in Kent. At present we use St Christopher’s Church near Elmswell Manor outside Ashford, but this may not be the best location.

Ten Possible Future Missions, God Willing

  1. Northampton (Northamptonshire/West Bedfordshire, North Buckingham-shire, South Leicestershire, East Warwickshire). The Protecting Veil. There is a huge Eastern European population all over the East Midlands, as it is accessible from Luton Airport, where Easyjet flies to Vilnius, Riga and elsewhere. I have several contacts in Northampton and nearby Kettering and know the area from missionary visits there.
  2. York (Yorkshire). St Constantine and St Helen. In the centre of Yorkshire, St Constantine was present here when he was proclaimed Emperor in July 306. This idea follows from earlier contacts and a visit to York in March 2019.
  3. St Albans (Hertfordshire/East Buckinghamshire). St Alban. The historic centre of the First Martyr, where I have been on pilgrimage many times over the last 45 years. This location is also accessible for the many Orthodox who live in North London and those in Luton.
  4. Crawley (West Sussex/Surrey). St Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts. A centrally located position, not far from south London, next to Gatwick (hence the dedication) and not far from Brighton.
  5. Winchester (Hampshire, South Berkshire, East Wiltshire). The Resurrection. A centrally-located historic royal centre and the pre-Norman capital of England. Hence the dedication.
  6. Sheffield (Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire). The Transfiguration. A presence in this heavily-populated industrial area, where raw materials were and are transformed (hence the dedication).
  7. Grimsby (North Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire). St Nicholas. A fishing port and hence the dedication.
  8. Derby (Derbyshire, South Nottinghamshire, North Leicestershire, East Staffordshire). (All Saints). A central, collective point and hence the same dedication as its ancient cathedral founded in c. 943.
  9. Durham (County Durham, South Northumberland, North Yorkshire). St Cuthbert. A presence in the city where the relics of St Cuthbert have lain for over some 900 years.
  10. Berwick on Tweed (Northumbria). (Sts George and Andrew). A pastoral centre between Durham and Edinburgh, near historic Holy Island, showing our spiritual unity in the saints of God. This mission takes us beyond north-east England into south-east Scotland and new territory.

Conclusion: Eighteen Missions

With the three old missions in London and the South-East and the two new missions in the East of England, three missions under way and ten potential new missions we could provide access to Orthodoxy for 95% of the 37 million population of the Eastern half of England, and even beyond its borders, who live within a 30 mile radius (as the crow flies, more) of each centre. (It is our experience that people are willing to travel up to 40 miles, or one hour, regularly, but usually not more, to get to church).

Give me the tools and I will finish the job, as I wrote over 20 years ago.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Felixstowe, East of England,

12 May 2019

With the Mother of God in Eastern England

Between 2 and 9 April 2019, for the first time ever, all of a long-neglected region, that of Eastern England, was visited by the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. The faithful gathered in Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, bordering on Lincolnshire to the north and Bedfordshire to the south. 1500 miles were covered in eight days, 38 molebens were served in our five churches in the region and in the homes of the scattered faithful and £2,210 was raised for the Synod of Bishops of the Church Outside Russia. If we had had longer we would have visited even more faithful in this forgotten backwater outside the Capital. (For photos see the ROCOR Diocesan website).

The Icon gave off Her very strong myrrh-like fragrance, wafting in waves, in churches, homes, hospitals and cars, even filling streets while being taken in Her carrying case just the few yards to the doors of houses and flats. This was the fragrance of the Mercy of Mother Mary, for then the long-abandoned felt valued, consoled by this scent from Paradise. The highlights were perhaps the evening moleben and akathist in St Matrona’s chapel of the Lithuanian Orthodox community in Wisbech, the Capital of the Fens, at the Sunday Liturgy of the Annunciation in Colchester, and especially in one home, where two faithful, long-suffering and isolated converted Orthodox were able to pray before Her, showing that they had embraced Orthodoxy with their hearts and not with their heads.

In the first case we felt how, although the people may have had little knowledge, their spirit was great and the Mother of God descended on account of their humility, for they are absolutely devoid of any pretensions. In the second case, we felt how the hundreds of people came from far away with many small children, with all their huge pain at all the past injustices, and cried out to the Most Holy One and She heard them and consoled them, giving them courage. We three priests could barely cope with all the confessions and over 200 communions. In the third case we saw the greatest sincerity, piety, humility, unseen anywhere else here, and intense suffering, and how the Mother of God came and comforted. We have all become Josephs, guardians of the priceless treasure of the Most Pure One.

After a hospital visit to a young married Romanian man who did electrical work in the altar of the church some years ago, but who is now dying of cancer, we saw him comforted by a wafting of fragrance, which all in the hospital ward felt. We saw an elderly Russian parishioner kissing the Icon and her two Romanian carers, who happened to be present, kneeling and joining her. After one akathist, two pious Greek priests who had attended apologized for the behaviour of their Patriarch. Will the autocephaly of Constantinople be revoked by a Council of the thirteen canonical Local Orthodox Churches? Then the Greek Diaspora can be taken under the care of the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens and return to Orthodoxy. Then all in the Church can once again be confirmed as truly One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, that is, in one word, Orthodox.

Our Mother in heaven sees everyone, righteous and sinners alike, our parishioners, Bulgarian and English, Moldovan and Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Russian, Greek and Turkish, French and Italian, Indian and Romanian, Australian and Kazakh, Polish and Latvian. She acts as a magnet to all, Her presence so strongly felt by all. For the unbeliever the Icon is haunted; we know better. Her fragrance is Her Mercy. In the absence of any others, the Mother of God is truly our champion leader. She is in this Her Icon of the Sign, Who Shows the Way. In the Eastern provinces the rejected are being accepted, the persecuted are being comforted, the despised are being recalled, the long-forgotten are being remembered and the long-neglected are being visited.

We have little money or importance in the eyes of the world, our churches have no gold or precious stones, no ancient icons or precious artefacts, we have no great theologians or brains, but we do have faith and hope. The region is waking, as the very long and very dark night ends in the glimmer and hope of the long-prayed for dawn, which we long to see before we die. We feel that in heaven our prayers have been heard and our decades of tears have been noted. Can it be much longer now? Her fragrance still fills our clothes, homes and cars even days after She left us. We live by faith in Christ and by hope for the better.

 

The Mother of God Comes to the Faithful of Eastern England

For the first time in history the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God is being allowed to visit the homes of the faithful at all points of the compass in Eastern England. Previously, She had only been taken to London and spent only a few brief hours in some churches in the East.

God willing,

On Tuesday 2 April She will be brought from London to our parishioners to the north-east of Colchester, in Holbrook, Felixstowe, Kesgrave and Ipswich.

On Wednesday 3 April She will visit our parishioners to the west, in St Neots, Cambridge, to the community of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds, and to the north-west, to the community of St Matrona in Wisbech.

On Thursday 4 April She will visit our parishioners to the south-west, in Chelmsford, Basildon Brentwood, Romford, Ilford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham and Silver End.

On Friday 5 April She will visit our parishioners in Colchester and to the south-east, in Wivenhoe and Great Bromley.

On Saturday 6 April She will visit our parishioners to the south, to the community of the Royal Martyrs in Ashford and then in Bellingham before returning to Colchester.

On Sunday 7 April She will be in the centre in St John’s church in Colchesterfrom 8.00 am until 2.30 pm.

On Monday 8 April She will visit our parishioners to the east, in Colchester, Clacton and Frinton.

On Tuesday 9 April She will visit our parishioners to the north, in Sudbury, Mendlesham and Thetford, before being taken to St Alexander Nevsky church in Norwich.

 

 

The Orthodox Parish in Norwich

The ‘Matchbox Church’

There are no churches with patron saints names like ‘The She-Goat’ or ‘Of One Wood’ or ‘Of One Day’ etc, yet they have taken on these nicknames, which have been suggested either by the founder, or by the material which they have been built with, or by the length of time their construction has taken etc.

In Romania, as well as in other Orthodox Christian countries in Eastern Europe, old churches have been refurbished, new ones are erected, new parishes have been formed to the despondency of Christ’s enemies and of His Church’s enemies. They cannot sleep while claiming to take care of schools, hospitals, and poor people etc. That is the Judas syndrome…

Everything is done with difficulty, with the old lady’s pennies, which are placed out of her poverty in the alms box, with money and/or materials from Christians who are in fortunate positions etc. And not infrequently, until the foundations of the church have been laid, the church life of the new parishes takes place in improvised spaces: abandoned commercial areas, offices, military tents etc.

In the West and the North of Europe, countries, which in former times were mainly Catholic and Protestant, the trend is the opposite. Society has reached the level of progress and civilization in which God is considered to be unnecessary. Houses of worship, some of them having an honourable great age, are rented for some other (secular) activities or are for sale. The buyers convert them into offices, clubs, hotels, luxury bedrooms etc. (https://homes.trovit.co.uk/converted-church-gothic )

This loss of faith is somehow compensated for by the Orthodox-Christian leaven, which has been spread by the fist of globalization, from the former Socialist Orthodox Christian countries. Scattered throughout the world, at those places where they have found propitious conditions, the dough spills have fermented a network of parishes, with houses of worship fitted up in spaces placed at their disposal by Catholic or Protestant churches, either in purchased churches and converted into Orthodox Christian churches, or in new churches, built from scratch.

But Eastern European Orthodox Christian immigrants, with the love of God, who have come either to work or to study etc, do not always have at their disposal a house of worship (a church, a chapel etc) for religious services, when they are only a few in number and are a long way from big urban centres. Then, from hand to hand, they offer love, effort, savings, perseverance, and thus arrange houses of worship where one does not even dare to imagine.

Such a house of worship is the Russian church having as its patron saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263) in Norwich, England, organized in a former club, on the edge of a road. On the left side of iconostasis, St Alexander Nevsky is accompanied by St Xenia of Saint Petersburg (18th century). The story of how this church was organized may be found here:

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/?page_id=136

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/

Out of a space not much bigger than an apartment in a block of flats, it has come out as a decent little church, as big as a dining room (plus the kitchen). A ‘Matchbox’ church!

A Bulgarian priest and a Russian helper serve with zeal for a handful of parishioners, 20-30 people (it would be impossible to find enough room for a higher number): Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, English, Africans, Asians… The atmosphere is warm, hospitable. It would be inconceivable to be otherwise inside such a space and with such a diversity of parishioners.

A distinguished lady, who conducts the choir (a group of 3-4 women) was telling me, as if she wanted to apologize for such a small church: ‘This is our church. Hopefully God will listen and answer our prayers from this house of worship’.

It seems to me as if we were in the first Christian century in Rome, when the pagans, who by then had become Christians by risking their lives, were placing their houses at the disposal of a church nucleus: ‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Jesus Christ, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give my thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ’ (Romans, 16: 3-5).

Everywhere, Christ gathers the rocks of faith and gives them power to speak: ‘And do not think to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew, 3: 9). ‘And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke thy disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out’ (Luke, 19: 39-40).

Well, these stones are those Christians who have not reached a state of petrified indifference.

Nicuşor Gliga, Bucharest, Romania 17 October 2018

 

The Possible Future of Multinational Russian Orthodoxy in ROCOR in Eastern England

Introduction: Missionary/Pastoral Experience since the 1970s

My experience has been in England (Cambridge and the Fens for 3 years), France (14 years) and Portugal (6 months). I have also served in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, USA and Australia, lived for a year in Greece, and spent several months since the 1970s in Russia and the Ukraine.  I have been in England again for 21 years since 1997. Here I now cover 25,000 miles a year doing pastoral work all over the East, in four prisons and in ten counties – Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Two Problems in the Diaspora Everywhere

  1. The first is the ideology of what may be called mononationalism: forbidding other languages. We saw how ROCOR nearly died out in this country in the 80s and 90s because of this and how now others are dying out because of this. We also see the same Anglican-style mononationalism/racism/phyletism among those who impose English only, obligatory communion, no confession, the new calendar, chairs etc in the ’Anglican Orthodoxy’ of the past.
  2. The second is our lack of infrastructure, lack of our own premises, priests, singers and finance.

The Need for New Missions

Every few months I am contacted by someone to open a ROCOR mission, this month in Wiltshire, three months ago it was Newcastle on Tyne. Two or three times a year we also have visits from people at church, asking for a new mission. We must also recall that we can and need start only on virgin territory, where there is no similar Russian Orthodox presence already, as there is for example in Oxford, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. Also we recall that all missions must be in centres of population, where Orthodox already live and so provide a base and not be a project in the middle of nowhere.

Public Missions in the East to Date (apart from house chapels)

  1. Colchester (Essex). St John of Shanghai. Our property, bought with £180,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site.
  2. Norwich (Norfolk). St Alexander Nevsky. Our property, bought with £65,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site.
  3. Bury St Edmunds/Newmarket. (West Suffolk/South Cambridgeshire). All Saints. I already served in Bury from 2000 to 2002 and have now been there again for nearly two years. We need something here or in this area in West Suffolk, perhaps in Newmarket. The area includes St Felix’s 7th century monastery in Soham, St Audrey’s birthplace is in Exning and St Edmund’s former monastery in Bury. Hence the possible future dedication to All Saints, if we can obtain our own building in this area.
  4. Wisbech (North Cambridgeshire/West Norfolk/South Lincolnshire). St Matrona. This is a new mission, blessed by our bishop, in an ideally-located route centre – all around live thousands of Eastern European fen workers. I have already visited Orthodox in Spalding and March. We could with funds build a beautiful wooden Russian church here, as land is cheap.

Twelve Other Possible Public Missions in Eastern England, God Willing, Remembering that We Orthodox Have no Plans, only Hopes, and We Depend on the Needs of the Grassroots, not on Theories and Pins in Maps

  1. Kettering (Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire). Icon of the Mother of God. There is a huge Eastern European population all over the East Midlands, as it is near Luton Airport, where Easyjet flies to Vilnius, Riga and elsewhere. I have many local contacts and know the area well from missionary visits to Orthodox.
  2. Canterbury (Kent). Christ the Saviour. The historic centre of English Christianity.
  3. St Albans (Hertfordshire/Eastern Buckinghamshire). St Alban. A historic centre near London.
  4. Lincoln (Lincolnshire). The Dormition. A great many Russian-speakers live in this agricultural county.
  5. Crawley (Sussex/Surrey). St Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts. A centrally located position, not far from south London, next to Gatwick and close to Brighton.
  6. Winchester (Hampshire). The Resurrection. A centrally-located historic royal centre and the pre-Norman capital of England. Hence the dedication.
  7. York (Yorkshire). St Constantine and St Helen. In the centre of Yorkshire, St Constantine was present here when proclaimed Emperor in 306.
  8. Sheffield (Yorkshire). The Transfiguration. A presence in heavily-populated South Yorkshire, in a town where metal was once transformed (hence the dedication).
  9. Sunderland (Northumbria). St Nicholas. A presence in a former ship-building town (hence the dedication) in the North-East.
  10. East Cowes (Isle of Wight). (The Royal Martyrs). Commemorating the Imperial Family’s presence here.
  11. Rochester (Kent). (St Andrew the First-Called). A historic location for the large Medway population.
  12. Berwick on Tweed (Northumbria). (St Cuthbert). A pastoral centre between Sunderland and Edinburgh, near the historic Holy Island.

Conclusion: Sixteen Missions

With these sixteen missions we could cover Eastern England, providing access to Orthodoxy for 90% + of the 28 million population of the East within a 25 mile radius of each centre. If we achieved only half of this total, that would be a miracle. Give me the tools and I will finish the job, as I wrote 20 years ago.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Felixstowe, 1 February 2018

 

 

4 July 1997- 4 July 2017: Twenty Years of Mission: On Restoring the Heritage of St John of Shanghai in the British Isles and Ireland

Exactly twenty years ago, on the eve of the feast day of St John of Shanghai in 1997, an Orthodox Christian mission began to England from the east coast town of Felixstowe, the town of St Felix. This was much like the original Orthodox Christian mission of 631 to exactly the same place but led by the future St Felix. Indeed, this new mission was also an Orthodox Christian mission and it came from the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western Europe, centred in Geneva, precisely next to the native Burgundy of St Felix. This was therefore not a mission created around Parisian personalities with dreamy philosophies and dubious cults, nor one of sectarian and Calvinist phariseeism.

On the contrary, this mission owes itself to Archbishop Antony of Geneva (1910-1993), who was named after the theologian Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev, ordained by Metr Anastasy, and was a disciple of St John of Shanghai and so another authentic Russian Orthodox Archbishop of Western Europe (1). He was briefly bishop in England in 1985. It was in order to restore the heritage of his spiritual father, St John, who had left England in 1962, that we returned, for, to all intents and purposes, his heritage had been lost and forgotten in the British Isles, crucified by spiritual impurities from both the left side and the right side.

Today, as a result of this mission, we are looking not only at real parish bases in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, two of them our property, with four priests, but also at hopes of penetrating further inland, with missions to the north, south and west, to Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Kent and Sussex, and setting up a monastery. It seems, if God so wills, that the mission that could lead to a new Local Orthodox Church here, is indeed to be led from New York by the largely English-speaking ROCOR, to which Archbishop Antony belonged. Its local representative is Bishop Irenei (Steenberg), whose patron saint is the very saint whose icon was long ago painted in the Russian Orthodox church in Lyons – by Archbishop Antony.

Thus, today, whereas our Isles of the North Atlantic (IONA) appear to have a separate destiny from the Continent, it seems that God’s will for the imminent Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Continental Western Europe, the foundation of a new Local Church there, is not for it to be centred under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in Geneva, as it was in the past under the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva. It is rather for this work to be continued directly from Moscow via the new Cathedral and seminary in Paris. May God’s Will be done!

Note: (From his Biography)

1. As a priest in the 1950s Archbishop Antony had served in different churches in the Western European diocese, including in Lyons. Here he had painted the iconostasis of the Lyons church, including an icon of St Irenei of Lyons. As a hierarch, at the Third All-Diaspora Council in 1974 he spoke forcefully for Church unity and against ROCOR self-isolation. He advocated preserving the purity of Orthodoxy against atheism and new calendarist modernism, all the while using the free voice of the Church Outside Russia to understand and not condemn the enslaved, cherishing unity with the universal Church of Christ, avoiding old calendarist divisiveness, intent on seeking out and exaggerating errors.

He called all Russian Orthodox to unity through love and to help Russia. He was commended for taking this royal path by the future St Paisios the Athonite. Archbishop Anthony was also noted for his pan-Orthodox vision and welcome to converts, asking one of his Russian priests to compose a service to All the Saints of the Swiss Lands. Despite his limited linguistic abilities, he ordained clergy of many origins and established multinational missions. His episcopacy was noted for the peace and love within his diocese, which stretched from Portugal to Austria and from the Netherlands to the south of Italy, and for the brotherly feeling among the clergy.

The Lost Empire and the Future of Europe

A few miles from where I write these words, there is a small town called Rendlesham. Over 1500 years ago it was named after a man called Rendle, which in the Anglian language meant ‘small shield’, indicating a military man. Thus, although there is no proof, Rendle could have been an Anglian soldier of the Roman Army who settled here in about AD 390. When the Romans left in 410, he settled down in an abandoned Roman administrative settlement by the river and gave it his name – Rendle’s home. Towards the end of the sixth century this became the palace of the East Anglian royal house and an important centre for some 150 years, its kings being buried at nearby Sutton Hoo. Recently archaeologists working there have found a bowl and coins from ‘Constantinople’. For Eastern England was once part of the Christian Empire.

Indeed, when St Bede the Venerable completed his work ‘On the History of the English Church and People’ in 731, he dated his entries by the reign of the Roman Emperor, who lived far away in what was until recently called ‘Constantinople’. Even distant Iona in the north-west was in spirit part of that same Sacral Empire, just as India in the south-east, Georgia in the north-east and what is now Portugal in the south-west were part of the same Empire. What happened to this lost unity of this lost Empire, forgotten and even hidden from Western eyes, its coins and artefacts now being uncovered? The answer is in the misdeeds of an individual and a superiority complex mentality that has since become collective like an epidemic. This individual is nowadays called Charlemagne in English, but in his own time he was called Karl the Tall.

He was a semi-literate, provincial Frankish king, made a Roman patrician by the Imperial Court in Christian Rome, set between the two continents of Europe and Asia, in recognition of the relative order that he had created in his barbarian chaos of a corner of Western Europe, which was called ‘the First Reich’. It was indeed only a corner because it did not include Scandinavia or the British Isles and Ireland, only a minute part of the Iberian Peninsula and only part of the Italian Peninsula, and of course not Central and Eastern Europe. (Even today in that part of Europe, the ‘Vysegrad Four’, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, are all resistant to the successor of Karl’s First Reich, the EU Fourth Reich. Why? Because they were all Orthodox Christian before their conquest by the anti-Christian adepts of Charlemagne).

Charlemagne wanted to rival, overthrow and usurp the authority of the Christian Emperor in Christian Rome. So he claimed the authority of the emperors of pagan Rome instead, and, in order to make himself Emperor, he then accused the real Emperor of his own Trinitarian heresy, appointing his right-hand man in Rome as the source of the Holy Spirit. He was of course derided for his incredible narcissism and megalomania in the Imperial Capital in New Rome, but four centuries later his spiritual descendants had become so important and powerful that they sacked and looted the Imperial Capital, thus leading to a part-Muslim Eastern Europe. Likewise, ten centuries later, Napoleon crowned himself and accused any dissidents (in his case, England and Russia) of heresy and attempted to slaughter them for preferring freedom.

A century later another successor, the dictator of the ‘Third Reich’ (the ‘Second Reich’ had been founded by Bismarck in 1871), Hitler, also crowned himself, not with a literal crown, but with a Fascist ideology, murdering all ‘heretics’, especially those who had a universal, messianic philosophy (notably 27 million East Slavs and 5 million Jews) to rival his own. And today’s neocon Anglo-Zionists do the same, crowning themselves with being ‘Western’. Any lack of ‘Western values’, that is, any sign of different, that is, non-secularist, cultural values, is for them a heresy and those who confess them must be bombed into oblivion. This is the same old arrogant self-justification once again. Thus, the infamous Italian, neo-Carolingian Berlusconi infamously declared that the unprovoked Western aggression on oil-rich Iraq in 2003 was a ‘crusade’.

That invasion was indeed a crusade, but not by the Carolingian usurpers, Roman Catholics, against real Christians as in the Middle Ages, but one against anyone who stopped the greedy West from getting its hands on the mineral riches of Iraq. However, in reality, this was little different from the jealous Western looting of the Imperial Capital, wealthy New Rome, almost exactly 800 years earlier in 1204. So the ‘Charlemagne syndrome’ has repeated itself through Western history. And yet the Sacral Christian Empire, though for the moment without its Emperor and much endangered, is still here, stretching from Montenegro to Vladivostok and Murmansk to Jerusalem, but with outposts all around the world, from Japan to Chile and Alaska to New Zealand. If Europe has any future – outside darkest Islamism – the Christian Empire is it.

From Fragments to Wholeness

Introduction

Three experiences and the great wonderment and many questions that they raised, all hinting at the existence of a much greater reality beyond the veil, have shaped and inspired my life. These experiences have all been of fragments and vestiges of the great Imperial Christian Civilization which was rejected over a period of between 1,000 and 100 years ago and has since been largely forgotten and lost. Although wholly rejected, derided and even unknown to most, this Civilization may yet, by Divine Providence and human repentance, be restored. That is our hope in our tiny corner of Eastern England.

My life has been spent in the task of fitting together these three experiences or pieces into a great whole, the big picture, where all these pieces belong. Only together as part of a whole do they have their full meaning. Alone they are just separate facts, tantalizing gleams and hints of some greater reality, keys to the great gates of a Kingdom that remains locked until you have all three of them and the daring to unlock them. With time, patience and prayer, by consulting many and reading the books of those whom I could not consult in life, with great effort, I have been able to put all the pieces together and found the big picture.

The Cottage of the People

The first experience came to me in childhood. In 1963, in a spot that I can take you to today, I sat with two nineteenth-century great-uncles, their caps respectfully removed, in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. A host of silent questions arose in my mind. Why did they, such humble representatives of the people show such respect here? Who was this St Edmund, that this town had been named after 1,000 years before? What was a saint? How did you become a saint? Why were there only ruins here now? And why were there no longer any saints? So many questions, so few answers and none able to answer them.

By the age of twelve St Edmund had led me to discover other local saints in my native Essex and Suffolk, Sts Botolph, Cedd, Albright, Audrey, Osyth and Felix. Places and churches were named after them, but no-one could tell me very much about them. Their names had become an empty ritual of sounds, without any meaning, divorced from spiritual reality. I became aware that further away there were other mysterious saints, but they were all only fragments. Thus, as a child, I was thwarted, unable and unequipped to put any of these little pieces together, into the great, but mysterious and mystifying whole.

The Altar of the Faith

From August 1968 on I began to discover that these saints, however important they had once been locally, belonged to a far greater whole, to a universal background and culture, a whole Civilization, the Civilization of the Saints. I discovered that, once in their context, they would stop being names and stories in dry and dusty books and that they would come alive again and I could speak to them as my companions. This was all part of the greater discovery that what had been presented to me as Christianity was not that at all, but a system of tedious, State-organized ethics devised to control the masses.

Then came the realization that through its inevitable degeneration this false Christianity had been responsible for the opposite of authentic Christianity, Secularism. Whether in its Protestant or its Roman Catholic form, it lay outside the real Christian Church, the Orthodox Church. Finally, in 1972 when I visited the Soviet Union, I realized that the essential and largest part of the Orthodox Church was there, so cruelly persecuted and its integrity damaged, bringing people at worst to superstitious ritualism, Sovietized fragmentization. Outside that, there were other smaller Churches, but even more nationalized and compromised.

The Throne of the Sovereign

Having by my thirty-third year pieced together the saintly Cottage of the People and the holy Altar of the Faith that I served in the so troubled and sadly divided emigration, I began to understand that both Cottage and Altar had to be completed by the sacred Throne, the Throne of the Sacral Christian Empire, which depended on the Cottage and the Altar, but which also protected them both. In the Kingdom of Heaven there was no need for it, but on earth this was the glue that kept everything together. The Throne had been overthrown on earth many decades before. But what was the hope that the Throne could be restored?

At that time there seemed to be virtually none, for the Throne lay in ruins. The Imperial reality had been reduced to fragments, each tiny part claiming to be the Empire! It had been reduced to freemasonry and corruption, to fallen compromises and flag-waving provincialism, to sterile intellectualism and private personality cults. It had been betrayed by disincarnate modernists who could not see the greater picture, as they lived in the bubble of their own egos; they could not see the great forest as a result of looking for too long at their own little saplings. Could it, by the grace of God and human repentance, be restored?

Conclusion

Thus through the saintly Cottage of the People I discovered the Kingdom of the Spirit, through the holy Altar of Faith the Kingdom of the Son, and through the sacred Throne of the Sovereign the Kingdom of the Father. I had discovered in the saints the spiritual essence of the People, in the Faith Orthodoxy and in the Throne Sovereignty. I had discovered Christian Civilization, the opposite of the anti-Civilization that I had been born into, with its world wars, death camps, atomic bombs, cult of mammon and ruthless exploitation and genocide of Non-Europeans. I had seen the big picture, discovering the unique Christian Civilization.

Elitism despised and mocked the Cottage of the People; the Establishment falsified and compromised the Altar of the Faith; Secularism betrayed and scorned the Throne of the Sovereign. But I had seen the big picture, discovering the unique Christian Civilization. It could be called Roma Nova, the Third Rome or Holy Rus, though to some those terms have nationalistic undertones, but it is simply the Sacral Christian Empire. That Empire began in York on 25 July 306 and ended in Ekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. However, has it ended? Or has it merely been interrupted by ‘treachery, cowardice and deceit’?