Category Archives: St Edmund

The Lives of St Edmund and St Audrey

The iconostasis of our new church, whose opening was so long delayed, at 14, High Street, Little Abington (CB21 6BG) in south-east Cambridgeshire portrays its patron saint, St Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia, and also a second local saint, St Audrey of Ely. Therefore we have decided to publish simple and short Lives of both saints for visitors, both on paper and also here below:

St Edmund, King and Martyr (841-869)

‘The English nation is not bereft of the Saints of the Lord, since in the English land lie such saints as this holy king….and St Audrey in Ely’.

Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham, c. 1000

Edmund was born on Christmas Day 841 and was brought up in piety. ‘From his earliest youth, he followed Christ wholeheartedly’. In particular the young Edmund learned to love the name of Jesus Christ, which was to go with him all his life. He learned to read and began to learn the Psalter by heart. After the death of the previous King of East Anglia, Edmund was called to become King in 855, aged only fourteen. Chosen King at what is now Caistor St Edmund, just to the south of Norwich, in 856 Edmund was anointed and crowned King of East Anglia at Bures on the border of Suffolk and Essex. This town commanded the strategic crossing-place over the river between East Anglia and Essex.

With Edmund’s reign begins a new age in the history of East Anglia. ‘Edmund the blessed, King of the East Angles, was wise and honourable, and always glorified by his noble conduct before Almighty God. He was humble and devout, and continued so steadfast that he would not yield to shameful sins, nor in any way did he bend aside his conduct, but was always mindful of the true teaching…. He was bountiful to the poor and to widows even like a father and always benignly led his people to righteousness, and controlled the violent and lived happily in the true faith’. So reads the Life of St Edmund written in the tenth century, which concludes: ‘He was raised up by God to be the defender of His Church’.

It was into this world that in 865 a storm broke. The storm consisted of a full-scale Viking invasion, some twenty-thousand strong, which landed in East Anglia on the Suffolk coast, but then went north towards York. It may be that at this time Edmund rebuilt the great earthworks to the south-west of his Kingdom near Little Abington, a stretch of which is known as ‘St. Edmund’s Ditch’ and at the northern end there is an area called ‘St. Edmund’s Fen’.

In any case, in 869 the Vikings reappeared. In Thetford in the late autumn of 869 a pitched battle took place between them and Edmund’s forces. Edmund was victorious, but at great cost. Now outmatched, Edmund retreated towards Hoxne in the north of Suffolk. The Vikings offered peace – at a price. A messenger came with the offer, an offer which meant the Christian Edmund becoming an under-king to the pagans. It is clear that he would neither see himself become the puppet ruler of pagans, nor would he flee from possible martyrdom.

His reply to the messenger was: ‘I shall not submit to a pagan master for the love of earthly life; first you must accept our holy faith’. ‘I have vowed to live under Christ, to live under Christ alone, to reign under Christ alone’. It would also seem that Edmund saw the possibility that in his own death his Kingdom might find peace: ‘I alone should die for my people, that the whole nation should not perish’.

The Vikings now advanced on Hoxne. They surrounded Edmund who wished to imitate Christ, Who forbade Peter to use arms. The Vikings ‘bound Edmund and shamefully insulted him, beating him with clubs’. They tried to make Edmund renounce his Faith: ‘Living or dead, nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ. Christ’s Faith was his mighty shield’. ‘Then they led the faithful King to a tree and bound him to it tightly. Afterwards they whipped him for a long time and he always called with true faith on Christ the Saviour.

Because of his faith and his calling on Christ to help him, the pagans became furious. They shot at him with arrows as if for their pleasure until he bristled with them, like St Sebastian. When the wicked seamen saw that the noble king would not deny Christ but called on Him with steadfast faith, they beheaded him’. ‘His soul departed joyfully to Christ’. His last words were ‘Jesus! Jesus!’. It was Monday 20 November 869. Edmund was not yet twenty-eight years old; he had reigned for less than thirteen years. Thus he exchanged an earthly crown for a heavenly one, exchanging Kingdom for Martyrdom.

After killing the King at Hoxne, the Vikings returned to their ships, throwing into thick brambles the head, which they had taken ‘that it might not be buried’. The story continues: ‘Then some time after they had gone, country folk came and were very sad, especially because they had not the head with the body’. According to tradition, forty days later, on 30 December 869, their search was rewarded. In their desperation the searchers cried out, ‘Where are you?’ Incredibly they received an answer, which to them sounded like, ‘Here, here, here’.

Following the sounds they found a grey wolf guarding the head between its paws: ‘They were astonished at the wolf’s guardianship, and carried the head home with them, thanking the Almighty for all His wonders; but the wolf followed on with the head, as if he were tame, and then turned back again into the wood’. Symbolically the wolf had been converted by St. Edmund’s sacrifice, just as the sea-wolves, the Vikings, would also be converted by their victim. ‘Then the country folk laid the head by the holy body, and buried him with haste as best they could, and full soon built a church over him’.

The miracle of Edmund’s sacrifice was that within nine years the ‘sea-wolves’ who had martyred him were accepting the Christian Faith. Miraculously, the first Christian King of East Anglia after St Edmund was a former Viking, Athelstan – the blood of martyrs had triumphed over enmity. Meanwhile, the lowly wooden chapel in Hoxne, where Edmund’s remains had been buried, witnessed miracles. ‘Wonders were often worked at the chapel where he was buried. At night some of the faithful would notice a column of light hovering over the shrine from evening until dawn. Then, one night a blind man and a boy who led him came through the woods. Lost, they saw a building, which they were glad to enter for the night. But once inside, they stumbled onto the grave and realised that this building contained a tomb. Nevertheless, they decided to stay. Hardly had they fallen asleep when they awoke, a column of light shining before them. At dawn the blind man awoke and for the first time in his life he saw day break. The miracle was told to others – a man blind from birth had regained his sight.

Already by 895 King Alfred had minted coins bearing the image of ‘St Edmund the King’. Other coins had also been struck, through the ironies of Providence, by Vikings, styling Edmund ‘Saint’. But it was not until 902, according to some traditions, that the Bishop who was responsible for war-torn East Anglia resolved to move the body of St Edmund to a more worthy place, to Bedricsworth, now called Bury St Edmunds. It lay and lies exactly at the centre of a cross drawn over the four counties of Eastern England, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

The Bishop with his clergy proceeded the twenty-five miles to Hoxne to fetch the relics. On opening the coffin, they were amazed for they saw not bones and dust, but their martyred King Edmund, his body incorrupt as if asleep and his head united with his body – only a threadlike seam around the neck bore witness to his beheading. The arrow wounds had also healed. ‘The devout multitude carried the body to the shrine in the new church, there to await in the same peaceful sleep the joys of the resurrection. In this manner took place the first translation of St Edmund, thirty-three years after his burial.

As regards the church at Bedricsworth we are told that it was enriched with gold and silver in the saint’s honour. Indeed such was the veneration of the Royal Martyr Edmund at Bedricsworth, that the town was variously called ‘St Edmundstowe’, ‘Edmundston’ and ‘Kingston’ before becoming Bury St Edmunds. From this time on the monastery of St Edmund became richer. By 1044 its ‘liberty’ or patrimony came to include a third of Suffolk, including all of West Suffolk. Pilgrims began to come in great numbers and pilgrims ways developed, especially the road to Newmarket and the London road. Later, pilgrims brought in a pious custom of kneeling as soon as they caught sight of the monastery and then walking the last mile barefoot.

St Edmund became a national hero and his name, meaning ‘blessed protection’, became a reality as he was adopted as England’s Patron Saint, ‘a terrible defender of his own’, as we have seen again and again in recent times also. He was a very popular saint, with over sixty churches dedicated to him. Moreover, both after the First Reformation of the Roman Catholic Norman Conquest in 1066, when men became less sincere and righteous in their faith and miracles fewer, and also after the Protestant Second Reformation in the sixteenth century, when they tried to erase Edmund’s name from the land, there are still those who keep St Edmund in their hearts and minds.

Holy King and Martyr Edmund, Pray to God for us!

St Audrey of Ely (630-679)

In the history of the Kingdom of East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk and eastern Cambridgeshire), few figures stand out like St Audrey of Ely. She was born in 630, the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, in Exning in Suffolk. She received the name ‘Æthelthryth’, meaning ‘noble strength’. This name soon came to be pronounced more simply as ‘Audrey’. Audrey most certainly knew the great missionary Felix, the Apostle of East Anglia, after whom Felixstowe is named. He doubtless baptised and taught King Anna and his family, including Audrey. Indeed, he set up a monastery near Exning, in Soham.

On 8 March 647, Bishop Felix reposed and was buried in his monastery. Audrey was already strongly drawn to the monastic life. However, in c. 652 she had to marry Tondbert, a noble of the people living in the East Anglian fenlands, in what is now Cambridgeshire. As her dowry she received the Isle of Ely (Ely meaning ‘the island of eels’ from the many eels there), now in eastern Cambridgeshire, which thus became part of East Anglia. This political marriage soon ended in c. 655 with Tondbert‘s death.

Audrey’s marriage had not been consummated and she had remained a virgin. There followed for her five years of widowhood, during which she retired to Ely where she gave herself to prayer and the ascetic life, hoping to found a monastery. But in c. 660 Audrey had to marry once more – again for political reasons. This time it was to re-cement relations with the Kingdom of Northumbria by marrying Egfrid the King of Northumbria, then aged only fifteen. In this way Audrey, from being an East Anglian princess, became the Queen of Northumbria.

As Egfrid grew older, he came to demand that their marriage be consummated. Audrey was opposed and finally, with her husband’s consent, in 672 she separated from him and left for Coldingham where her husband’s aunt had founded a monastery. Here she at last became a nun. The following year, 673, she travelled south to East Anglia, returning to Ely. A legend from this period says that her husband, not yet remarried, changed his mind about letting her go and, pursuing her, was cut off by the high tide on the River Humber. Once across the Humber, she paused to rest at the village now called West Halton. Planting her staff in the ground, immediately it blossomed. For many years in the Middle Ages West Halton was known as the holy place of Audrey.

In Ely Audrey rebuilt the old church and set up a monastery. She lived in an exemplary way, a ‘heavenly life in word and deed’. Giving up royal luxury, she never wore linen, but only woollen garments. She did not wash in hot water and she first helped the other nuns to wash, following the example of Christ, Who washed the feet of His disciples. She ate little, only one meal a day, except at great feasts or in times of pressing need. Unless ill, she would remain in church at prayer from matins until dawn, in other words from about midnight until six in the morning. The results of these ascetic feats were that Abbess Audrey obtained the gift of prophecy. She reposed in 679, some seven years after she had become Abbess. So she ‘exchanged all pain and death for everlasting life and health’.

Audrey was followed as Abbess by her sister, Saxburgh. In 696, the latter decided to have her sister’s bones taken from the wooden coffin in which they had been buried, in order to place them in a stone coffin and have them translated to the church. The monks found a Roman stone coffin near the city walls of what is now Cambridge.

The day for the translation, 17 October 696, came. The monks prepared to open the wooden coffin containing Audrey’s remains. As she went with others to open the coffin and wash the bones, Abbess Saxburgh was heard to cry out in a loud voice: ‘Glory to the Name of the Lord’. She had discovered that her sister’s body was incorrupt, ‘as if she had died and been buried that very day’. Proof was given by the monastery doctor, who had treated Abbess Audrey for a tumour on her throat three days before she had reposed. Only a scar remained.

‘All the linen cloths in which the body had been folded looked as fresh and as new as the day they had been wrapped around her pure body’. It is said that St Audrey had welcomed the pain from the tumour on her neck and any pain of that kind as a punishment for her vanity when as a girl, she had worn jewellery around her neck. She had come to wear ‘a burning red tumour instead of gold and pearls’: ‘They washed the soulless body and bound it with all honour in new garments, and carried it into the church, making glad with hymns, and laid her in the coffin where she lies until now in great honour for men to marvel at.

Several miracles took place. Firstly at the touch of the linen robes in which her body had been lying all those years, demons were expelled from the possessed and illnesses were cured. Secondly the wooden coffin itself cured eye diseases and failing eyesight, when the faithful placed their heads on it. And thirdly it was found that the sacred body fitted perfectly the Roman stone coffin, as if it had been made for it.

The Venerable Bede, writing a few years after these events, wrote the following of St Audrey: ‘Queenly by birth she wore an earthly crown most nobly, but a heavenly crown pleased her more. Scorning the marriage bed, she remained a virgin wife for twelve years, then sought the monastic life. She came most pure to her heavenly spouse, virgin in soul’. And later Abbot Ælfric, the author of many saints’ lives, wrote of ‘the English maiden who had two husbands and nevertheless remained a virgin’.

As a result of St Audrey’s holiness, Ely was to become the great sanctuary of East Anglia until its sack by the Vikings in 870. Of this event it is related that when one of their warriors opened her coffin, thinking it to be a treasure-chest, and saw the intact body, he was fear struck and fell down dead. Exactly one hundred years later, in 970, during the great period of national revival, monastic life was restored in Ely. Once more it became a great centre of monasticism and industry and the twelfth-century Book of Ely records the presence there of a Greek bishop during King Edgar’s reign. It was especially famed for its embroidery.

After the Norman Occupation of 1066, St Audrey’s shrine became the last centre of English physical resistance to the Invader.  In Ely in 1070–1 under Hereward ‘the Last of the English’, there gathered forces to resist the Normans. Thus St Audrey, Mother of East Anglia, became the champion of the native cause, her shrine the rallying point for the English resistance movement. Inspired by St Audrey’s ‘noble strength’, all refused to recognise the occupier and warmly welcomed Hereward and his army of resistance. All who joined Hereward had to take an oath of service over the shrine of St. Audrey and promise to labour with them ‘body and soul’.

When the Norman Duke William through witchcraft and betrayal entered St Audrey’s sanctuary, it is recorded that, ‘standing far from the holy body of the virgin, he threw a gold coin onto the altar, not daring to come any closer for fear that the judgement of God might come upon him because of the wicked deeds which his followers had committed in the house’.

Throughout the Middle Ages, by virtue of the incorrupt body of St Audrey, Ely was to remain one of the greatest shrines in the land, a symbol of England’s former spiritual greatness. In all, thirteen churches were dedicated to St Audrey. She was surrounded by miracles and was one of the most popular saints in the land, especially in East Anglia, and girls were named after her.

Although the shrine was destroyed by the men of greed in 1541, today, over thirteen hundred years on since the revelation of St Audrey’s incorruption, relics of the Saint still remain in London and her hand, still incorrupt, is revered at the Roman Catholic church in Ely. And, visible for some twenty miles around, still there towers Ely Cathedral itself. Built on the site of Abbess Audrey’s monastery, it stands as a memorial to the witness of St Audrey’s ‘noble strength’, that essential Christian Faith of the first millennium which Orthodox Christians everywhere are honoured to share with St Audrey, Mother of East Anglia.

Holy Mother Audrey, Pray to God for us!





Commemoration of the Holy Martyr Edmund, King of East Anglia


Commemoration of the Holy Martyr Edmund, King of East Anglia


At ‘Lord I have cried’…six stichira, Tone I.

Now come let us worship the King of Kings, glorious in His servant King Edmund, through whom He has made strong His Church and given joy to the Hosts of Heaven and to the faithful on earth.

Found to have grown to youth in grace and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Providence of God raised Edmund to the throne of the Eastern Kingdom, establishing him as the noble guardian of the Church, for which he strove even unto the shedding of his blood.

Rejoice, O servant-king of the Angles, servant of the King of Angels, O Edmund, flower of martyrs like unto the rose and the lily, thou who wast ever mindful of the True Faith, pour forth prayers to the Lord of all for the salvation of our souls.

Exult now, O Holy Church of the English Land, behold to thee it is given to sing of the noble King and Martyr Edmund, who triumphing over the princes of this world, went up to heaven with great victory and now intercedes for our souls.

The righteous servant of Christ Edmund, full of the Holy Spirit, spoke to the evil heathen: ‘Thy friendship bends not my will and thy threats torment me not, for it is glorious to die for the Lord and fire and sword are sweet to me above honey and the honeycomb’.

The noble Edmund, full of virtue and adorned with holy Godliness, spoke through the Holy Spirit: ‘Threats of banishment make me not afraid. It is pleasant to die for the love of God, behold may it be granted to me to become a sacrifice for God’.

Glory …. Tone VI.

Bound with chains to the tree, the humble Edmund is piteously mocked and scourged. For the love of Christ he gladly embraces the many ways of death, as a target he is covered with arrows. But he prays without ceasing to Christ our God with countenance serene.

If there is a Polyeleion, then the hymn of the resurrection to the Mother of God, Tone VI, ‘Who will not bless thee…’

Reading from Isaiah (43: 9-14)

Thus said the Lord: Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: our let them hear, and say, it is truth. You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are my witnesses, says the Lord, that I am God. Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. Thus says the Lord. The Holy One of Israel.

Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon (3: 1-9)

The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction, but they are in peace. For though they are punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded, for God proved them and found them worthy for Himself. As gold in the furnace has He tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that put their trust in Him shall understand the truth; and such as be faithful in love shall abide with Him; for grace and mercy is to His saints and visitation for His elect.

Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon (5: 15-23; 6: 1-3)

The righteous live unto the ages; their reward is also with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand, for with His right hand shall He cover them, and with His arm shall He protect them. He shall take to Him His jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature His weapon for the revenge of His enemies. He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate and true judgment instead of a helmet. He shall take holiness for an invincible shield. His severe wrath shall He sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with Him against the unwise. Then shall the right-arming thunderbolts go abroad, and from the clouds, as from a well-drawn bow, shall they fly to the mark. And from the hailstones full of wrath and cast as out of a sin Tone bow the cities shall fall down, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them. Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away; thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the Thrones of the mighty. Hear therefore, O you kings, and understand; learn ye that be judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the people and glory in the multitude of nations, for power is given you of the Lord and sovereignty from the Highest.

At the aposticha, these stichira, Tone IV.

The holy one of God grows bolder as the pain grows fiercer; set as a target he is showered with arrows like unto a new Sebastian. Yet through all, the martyr stands unconquered and the soldier of Christ is victorious.

Verse: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree and will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

The tyrant orders the beheading of the martyr, who still breathes but confesses Christ, and so Edmund consummates his martyrdom and rejoicing in spirit he goes up to God, and his most holy severed head utters words of prayer.

Verse: Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God.

The faithful folk set out to seek the head that is parted from the body but lives still, and they cry aloud: ‘Alas, good shepherd. Alas, kind father King Edmund, where art thou?’But the Lord hears the cries of the faithful and receives the prayers of his servants.

Glory…. Tone VI.

The head of the humble martyr utters these words: ‘Behold the one whom ye seek, the kind Father has compassion on His beloved whom he consoles with gentle words’. Wondrous is the Hand of God, for there lies a wolf watching with sorrow over the martyr and from joy the people burst forth into tears at this wonder most strange.

Troparion, Tone IV.

In his sufferings the Martyr-King Edmund, exchanged an earthly crown for a heavenly one. And making glad in Thy strength, O Christ our God, he overcame his tormentors and laid low the vanities of the demons. Now let all the peoples of this land make glad with him, that through his prayers our souls may be saved


At ‘God is the Lord’, the troparion of the saint, Tone IV (twice).

Glory.… Now & ever.… & the following hymn to the Mother of God in the same tone.

After the first reading of the Psalter, this sessional hymn, Tone I.

Loathing the armies of this world and seeking the glory of heaven, thou didst endure torture and death, O holy martyr Edmund, wherefore this day we celebrate thy holy memory and offer praise to Christ. (Twice)

Glory…. Now and ever…. Hymn to the Mother of God in the same tone.

We pray to thee, true Mother and Virgin; with love we beseech thy compassion and flee to thy goodness, O Pure One, for in thee do we sinners find protection and salvation in affliction.

After the second reading from the Psalter, this sessional hymn, Tone IV.

O invincible martyr and indomitable witness Edmund, this day set thee free from the bonds of the earth and with triumph led thy soul up to heaven, now as thou dost shine before the Throne of God in thy bright raiment, do thou intercede for us on earth who sing thy praises.

Glory…. Now and ever…. Hymn to the Mother of God.

To thee we sing a hymn of praise, O Virgin Mother of God, and we acknowledge that the Word of the Father, Christ our God, was Incarnate of thee the only Pure and Blessed One.

After the Polyeleos, the magnification.

We magnify thee, O holy martyr Edmund, and we honour thy honourable sufferings, which thou didst endure, for the love of Christ.

Verse: God is our refuge and our strength, our helper in the troubles that grievously befall us.

Sessional hymn, Tone IV.

In faith let us praise the Royal Martyr of Christ Edmund, the invincible soldier famed for his miracles and great conqueror of the enemy, for he bestows healing on all who come to him in faith, and taking away all pain he intercedes for the suffering.

Glory…. Now and ever…. Hymn to the Mother of God.

Thou art an unassailable bulwark for us Christians, O Virgin Mother of God, for fleeing unto thee we remain unharmed, and should we fall again we have thee as our intercessor, wherefore we give thanks and cry aloud to thee, Rejoice O thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Gradual, first antiphon of Tone IV, From my youth…

Prokimenon, Tone IV: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree and will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Verse: Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of God.

Gospel according to Luke (12: 2-12)

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say to you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, which after he has killed has power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say to you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the Angels of God: But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the Angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you to the synagogues, and to magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say.

After Psalm 50, stichira, Tone VI.

Today the English land is enlightened with the rays of thy passion-bearer, and adorned with flowers the Church of God cries to thee, O holy martyr Edmund: as thou art favoured by Christ, O fervent intercessor, pray without ceasing for the salvation of our souls.

Supplicatory canon to the Mother of God with six troparia, then the following canon to the saint with eight troparia, Tone VIII.

Ode I

Irmos: Crossing the water as if on dry land, thus fleeing the toils of Egypt, the Israelites cried aloud proclaiming: now let us sing to our God and our redeemer.

Refrain: Holy Martyr Edmund, pray to God for us.

Thy memorial has now shone forth brighter than the sun, O Royal Martyr of Christ. for it has cast the beaming rays of thy miracles over all this land, O bearer of light, all-wise Edmund.

Hero in righteous combat, winner of countless victories, grant me to sing of thy sufferings and struggles valiantly endured, thou hast died for the love of Christ in prayer and joy and gladness.

Ever skilful in hand, thou hast boldly appeared in battle like a new David, for as David wrestled with Goliath, so hast thou prevailed against the arrows of the foe by the arrows of thy words, O thrice-crowned Edmund.

Hymn to the Mother of God: O holy maiden and Mother, thy childbirth is unsearchable and fair, dread and strange. For thou hast fed the perfect God from thy breasts: O wonder beyond all words, for thou gavest suck without having known a man.


Irmos: As Thou art the fashioner of the vault of the heavens, O Lord, so too thou art the founder of the Church; do Thou therefore establish me in unfeigned love for Thee who art the height of things sought for and the Staff of the faithful, Thou who alone lovest mankind.

O glorious and blessed martyr Edmund, the humble and righteous King who shines with the crown of martyrdom, pray to God that those who call on thee in Godliness may be delivered from every affliction.

Enlightened by abundant radiance, thou, O all wise Edmund, dost drive away the gloomy despondency of the passions from those who in faith hymn thee.

Confirmed in hope and love, fenced around by faith, thou who art strong in the strength of Christ, thou, O Edmund, hast preached the kingdom and thus overthrown the errors of heathendom.

Hymn to the Mother of God: O most holy Virgin, thou hast borne in the flesh Him who has enlightened all the ends of the earth, who was begotten from the Father before all things were, and therefore we honour thee as the true Birthgiver of God.

Sessional hymn, Tone V.

Enlightened with the lustre of virtue and adorned with the glory of martyrdom, thou shinest brighter than the sun and dost enlighten those who in faith celebrate thy light-bearing memory, O glorious Martyr Edmund.

Glory…. Now and ever…. Hymn to the Mother of God.

O Ever-Virgin Mother of God, the great miracle of thy conception and thine ineffable childbirth was shown forth in thee and I am filled with awe and amazement, for thy glory shines forth on all for the salvation of our souls.

Ode IV

Irmos: I have hearkened and I have heard of the awesome mystery of Thy dispensation, O Lord, for I have come to the knowledge of Thy works and sing the praises of Thy divinity.

Afflictions beyond number beset Thy saints in the English Land, O Lord, and the hordes of heathen rose to slaughter the faithful. But Thou didst not suffer darkness to overcome the light of the Gospel that Thy saints had kindled, for Thou didst raise up the glorious Edmund, the mighty protector of Thy Church and people.

Raising up thy cross in the sight of the heathen, O Lord, the noble King Edmund besought Thy mercy against the insolent foemen. For he entrusted to Thee the just cause of his nation, that kings and priests and people might bless Thee, O God, for evermore.

The enemy failed to acknowledge thy reproving words and ordered thy body to be pierced with arrows like unto a new Sebastian. Thus pierced, O noble Edmund, thou hast called on the Name of the Saviour in unceasing prayer.

Hymn to the Mother of God: Thou art blessed unto all generations, O Mother and Virgin, O mountain overshadowed by the grace of God, who for our sakes didst give birth to Christ, the Light of the nations, save us by thine intercessions.

Ode V

Irmos: Enlighten us by Thy precepts and Thy commands, O Lord, and by the lofty power of Thine arm, bestow Thy peace upon us all as Thou alone lovest mankind.

Do thou, who hast been richly adorned by Christ for thy boldness as a martyr, now beseech Him earnestly for the salvation of those who sing thy praises, O all-blessed Edmund, our noble guardian.

Ever rejoicing with the angelic hosts, O holy and righteous martyr, and filled to the full with undying and blessed glory, do thou guard thy kingdom from every stirring of the new heathen and protect all those who flee to thee for refuge.

Do Thou who art merciful, O Christ our God, deliver us from every need, calming the many turmoils of sin and peril, and accept, O Lord, the fervent prayers of thy holy servant Edmund.

Hymn to the Mother of God: O Most Holy Mother of God, thou hast appeared far above the Cherubim and Seraphim, for thou, O most pure one, hast alone received in thy womb the God who cannot be contained. Now strengthen by thy bold intercessions those who hymn thee together with the holy martyr Edmund.

Ode VI

Irmos: I pour forth my entreaties to the Lord and to Him I proclaim my sorrows, for many woes fill my soul and my life draws nigh to its end, therefore, do Thou now raise me up from corruption, O Lord my God.

Thy manly and noble deeds are unsurpassed, Father to the widow, the orphan and the poor, righteous guardian of the church, O Royal Martyr Edmund, we praise thee in song, O all blessed one.

Not yielding to sharp and grievous tortures, thou hast gone to them as if they were pleasures, abiding with the Lord in prayer and calling unceasingly on his holy name. though pierced by arrows to the tree, yet thy prayers ring out in victory down all the ages.

Now let us dance and make glad like David of old, singing a hymn of praise, O you people, for we have found the thrice-crowned Edmund, Virgin, King and Martyr, who prays to God for the salvation of us all.

Hymn to the Mother of God: Now do we seek refuge in thee, O Most Pure Virgin. Save and guard us by thy prayers, for as Mother of Him who has power over all things, thine intercessions are mighty indeed.

Kontakion, Tone II: As a field tilled by the Holy Spirit, thou hast been shown forth as a most precious husbandman of grace, gathering in sheaves of virtue, for sowing in tears thou dost reap in gladness, and having fought the good fight unto the shedding of thy blood, thou hast received Christ, therefore do thou intercede for the salvation of our souls.

Ikos: Having upheld the True Faith at the hands of the heathen Northmen, O martyr Edmund, thou wast found worthy to exchange an earthly crown for a heavenly one.Thus inspired by thine example, we too beseech thee that we may receive the reward of eternal blessedness, therefore do thou intercede for the salvation of our souls.


Irmos: Once, from out of Judea, the children went down to Babylon. There they trampled down the flames of the fiery furnace, while singing their faith in the Trinity: O God of our Fathers, blessed art Thou.

Worthily emulating thy Master on the Cross, O holy martyr Edmund, thou wast bound to the tree, thou glorious saint of the Church of Christ, and carrying off the victory, thou art Her guardian, therefore do thou preserve Her through thine intercessions.

As martyr unvanquished, O all-wise Edmund, and as conqueror over suffering and undefeated champion of the faith, do thou fence around all those who praise thee with holy prayers.

Prudently husbanding the divine seed, thou didst make it to increase by watering it with the streams of thy blood, and by the zeal of thy sacrifice thou hast quenched the insolence of the heathen.

Hymn to the Mother of God: Thou art the glory of all, O Pure Virgin, thou art the strength of those who confess thee to be the Mother of God, Whom thou didst bear.


Irmos: The king of heaven, whom all the hosts of angels hymn in glory, now let us praise and exalt for evermore.

The flood of grievous passions, troubles and perils and all devices of the demons now cease at thine intercessions, O Royal Martyr and righteous servant of Christ Edmund.

O invincible thrice-crowned martyr Edmund, enlightened by the threefold sun of the Trinity, thou champion of Godliness and true faith, pray for us who sing to thee.

Adorned by a heavenly crown and diadem and sceptre, clothed in purple raiment dyed red by thy blood, thou dost reign with the King of Heaven, O all-blessed one.

Hymn to the Mother of God: No Ever-Blessed and Most Pure Virgin Mother, thou hast borne the God begotten by the Father from before all ages, Him Who shone forth before time. Therefore all peoples glorify thee as the true Mother of God.

Ode IX

Irmos: Most rightly do we confess thee as the Mother of God, we who through thee seek salvation, O Most Pure Virgin, therefore with all the choirs of heaven we magnify thee.

O blessed Edmund, do thou beseech Christ our God without ceasing, for we sing thy praises as martyr, as scourge of heathen tyrants, as healer of blind and sick, as protector of the poor, as vigilant guardian of the true faith, and as advocate who can never be confounded.

O thrice-blessed saint of God, the Master of all has given thee the rich prizes of thy contests, standing by His side as martyr with boldness and joy, guard those who call upon thee with faith and honour.

Resplendent in thine incorrupt body, O Edmund, the glory and light of thy relics shone forth upon the burgh named after thee, and from there throughout all the English Land. O light from the East, thou hast shone forth to many peoples down all the ages, now proclaiming the incorruptible victory of Christ, we await thy return before the end as we proclaim thy martyrdom to all the nations.

Hymn to the Mother of God: Yea, the ark of testimony, O most pure Virgin, in which the table, the jar and the golden tabernacle forefigure thee, for thus thou hast held in thy womb, O Birthgiver of God, the Word made flesh, Who has no beginning.


 O-all praised Edmund, noble protector of the English Land, thou hast never failed any man. Watching over this thy land, intercede with Christ our God that the new heathen may be driven back and our souls may be saved.

Glory…. Now and ever…. Hymn to the Mother of God.

With thy mighty protection ever guard us thy servants from all the assaults of the enemy, O Pure One: for in thee alone do we have a refuge from all danger.

At the Praises, four stichira, Tone IV.

Today all this land is made bright by the rays of thy martyr, O Christ, and adorned with flowers of victory the Church cries aloud to thee, O noble Edmund, the servant of Christ and fervent intercessor, who through thy miracles dost move every tongue to glorify Him who has honoured thee, do thou ever pray to the Lord for the salvation of our souls.

O thrice-crowned Edmund, Virgin, King and Martyr, triumphant and thrice-blessed, having given thyself up as the Lord at Gethsemane, bound to the tree and pierced by arrows, thou hast hurled back the heathen host of error and confessed Christ in glory, pray thou that our souls may be saved.

O brethren, let us praise in spirit the living arrow of sharp faith, Edmund the famous Martyr-King, the wise and honourable one, who was pierced for the love of Christ, dangers forged, tortures burdened, all manner of chastisement smote his virgin body as his head fell, but love conquered nature and the holy one made his way through death to the company of Christ, the Saviour of our souls.

Glory …. In the same tone.

Laying down His life for the world, Edmund the King who loved Thee, Christ, the King of Kings, made haste to die for Thee, for having divine zeal in his heart, he offered himself up to Thee; therefore let us sing of the faith of this glorious and honourable servant of Christ who emulated the Master, that our souls may be saved.

Now & ever….

Let us now sing with faith and joy a hymn to thee, the Mother of God who art praised by all, do thou beseech the Lord that our souls may be saved.


At the Beatitudes, eight troparia from Odes III and IV.

Prokimenon, Tone VII: The righteous man shall be glad in the Lord, and shall hope in Him.

Verse: Hearken, O God, to my prayer, when I make supplication to Thee.

The Second Epistle to Timothy (2:1-10)

Brethren: Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strives for masteries, yet is he not crowned, unless he strives lawfully. The husbandman that labours must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord gives thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Alleluia, Tone IV.

Verse: Shout with jubilation unto the Lord all the earth; sing unto His name, give glory in praise of Him.

Verse: For Thou hast proved us, O God, and by fire Thou hast tried us even as silver is tried by fire.

Gospel according to John (15: 16-17)

The Lord said: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they would not have had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But (this comes to pass), that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify to me: And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he does God service.

Communion Verse.

In everlasting remembrance shall the righteous be; he shall not be afraid of evil tidings.

The Spirit of St Edmund


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.


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’.


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.




Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?

A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.

Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?

A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.

Q: What was it in fact?

A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.

Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?

A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.

Q: What happened next?

A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.

Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?

A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.

Q: What happened next?

A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.

Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?

A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.

Q: When was that?

A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.

Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.

I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.

Q: What happened next?

A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.

Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?

A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.

Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.

Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?

A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.

Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?

A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.

Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?

A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.

For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!

Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?

A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.

Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?

A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.

So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.

Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?

A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.

Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?

A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.

Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?

A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!

Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?

A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

A Report from Little Godmanstowe in Edmund’s Land

You will not find Little Godmanstowe on any modern map and there is no point in looking for it by satellite navigation, but it is still there, in the north of Suffolk, between Icklingham and Thetford, on the edge of the forest. True, on large scale maps you can find Godmanstowe Farm, but you will not find Little Godmanstowe itself. That is because today it consists of just one small thatched cottage hidden down a winding, overgrown cart-track, all that remains of a small hamlet that fell into ruin in the agricultural depression at the end of the nineteenth century and was taken off the maps.

Today, in the single remaining farm cottage of the lost hamlet, tucked away behind high hedgerows and surrounded by an orchard, live Sarah Dove, aged 119, and her ‘younger’ brother Moses Dove, aged 115. Recently I was able to visit them. As we sat in their living room having tea by the steady ticking of the old grandfather clock, I asked them the following questions and recorded their answers. (We have kept the spelling of some of their pronunciations, grammar and words of broad Suffolk in our transcript of their answers. The differences all go back to Old English and so are more correct than the deformed modern English).

Q: Moses, how come no-one’s ever heard of you before? You and your sister must surely be the oldest living people in England and probably in the world. You should be famous.

A: Thass an easy one, that is. You see, when we were born in this little old house where we’re still a-livin’, daddy Jesse didn’t register us. He said that weren’t none of the guvvamint’s business, so we didn’t have any of them there birth papers like other folk. He didn’t hold with guvvamint, didn’t see why we needed ‘em. Mary the wise woman, who helped ma give birth, warn’t bothered either. And there were no-one else to say anythin’. Long afore we were born, there used to be other housen round us, but they were all empty, the rain came through the mossy thatch and they all come a-tumblin’ down, so we were all on our own. You see, there weren’t enough work on the land then, the fields were all overgrown and the thistles sprang up, and folk left for Norfolk, to Thetford, a-seekin’ work in the factory. Others went to foreign parts, ‘cross the seas to ‘Stralia and Canada. As for bein’ famous, no thank you! We’re quite happy the way we are, we don’t need to be famous.

Q: If you weren’t registered, then you didn’t go to school?

A: School? We didn’t have time to go to school, we were a-helpin’ at home, in barn, in field, a-hoein’ and a-ploughin’, a-hedgin’ and a-ditchin’, a-stone pickin’ and a-gatherin’ firewood, a-rabbitin’ and a-harvestin’, a-pheasant-beatin’ and a-gleanin’, not to mention the garden and orchard, we were far too busy to go th’old school. Anyway, school were over three mile away and we didn’t allus (always) have shoes. We had better things to do than go to th’old school for all that booklore. Our aunts and uncles, God rest ‘em, larned us to read and count well enough. I can write me name, what more do I need?

Q: Nowadays you won’t meet anyone called Moses. Why did your parents give you that name?

A: In them days you allus had a name from th’old Bible. If that weren’t in the Good Book, that weren’t a name, save for two. Them two were Edmund, in honour of our King, and Audrey. She lived out Newmarket way when she were a young mawther (girl). A mort (lot) of our forebears were called Edmund and Audrey in th’olden days. They were holy ones, like the ones in the Bible.

Q: Who’s on the throne now, do you know?

A: Well, our Sovereign’s King Edmund, he’s still a-sittin’ on his throne in heaven, a’rulin’ over his East Anglian kingdom, lookin’ down on us and helpin’ us here. But if you’re talkin’ about Lon’on, that’ll be old George’s gal, but I can’t rightly remember her name. You see, we were born in the time of th’old Queen, that were all different then, none of them there tractors like now, there were only hosses in the fields and an engine for the threshin’. I saw me first motor car when I were five year old, that were a sight, that were, now they’re everywhere, noisy old things, they are.

Q: And who’s the Prime Minister now?

A: I wouldn’t know that, they come and go all the time. Here today, gone tomorrow. I know there were that there Churchill, that were half American, but after him I lost count. We had other things to do, a-ploughin’ and a-sowin’, a-reapin’ and a-harvestin’, we were too busied with seedtime and harvest.

Q: Do you go into town to do the shopping?

A: Oh no, we ha’n’t been in to Icklingham since I took me pension in 1965. That were when we had the last hosses. They died and I had me pension. I were a hossman all me life, what with general labourin’. Town is all dirt and noise. Anythin’ we need, John Bloomfield the farmer or his wife Audrey fetch and bring round. God bless ‘em both. He’s our landlord. They come round every mortal day and look after us. Mary’s a rare good cook too, bake her own bread. That do smell nice. You see, young John take what he need from our pension and so we live here without a care in the world, no rent, nothin’ to pay, no ‘lectric, no water, he do any repairs we need, he bring all the food we want and logs in the wintertime to mend the fire, lovely and cosy in here then. Ten year ago he had the roof rethatched for us, that cost a fair packet. Bloomfields been farmers here for ever, afore Henry’s time and they’ll be farmers here till kingdom come.

His daddy paid to put on the water in 1961 and had the WC put in. He put in the ‘lectric the year before. Mind you, we don’t like the ’lectric light, bad for your eyes, sooner have natural candlelight, we just use ‘lectric to cook and make the tea and for hot water. Very handy for that. Before that we had water from the well and used a privy in the garden. We still use the well water to make the dandelion and elderflower wine. That taste better like that. Anythin’ we need John get for us, just like his daddy, granddad and great-granddad did afore him. His great-granddad Cyril were a mighty fine man. He’d bring us pheasant and rabbit he’d shot, gave us a right good horkey (harvest home) and a good box at Christmas time. He looked after us right well. Lovely rabbit stews we used to have in them days, better than jugged hare.

Q: What about if you’re ill? Don’t you go to the doctor?

A: Don’t go to the doctor, we’re never ill. We grow our own veg and fruit and eat meat once a week on a Sunday, ‘cept in Lent, o’ course. If we feel poorly, we take a glass o’ Sarah’s elderflower wine and we feel better rightaway. At Easter we have lamb and at Whitsun we have gooseberries from the garden.

The air’s good here. My brother Jeremiah went up to Lon’on once. Never agen. He said the air were dirty. He come back and coughed and spluttered for a whole week. Thass why they call Lon’on the smoke. They do say now they built a road all round Lon’on so as you don’t have to go there. Thank the Lord. Thass all foreign folk there. The best place in Lon’on, said Jeremiah, is Liverpool Street Station, thass the railway station to get out o’ there and hie (hurry) home as swift as you can. Home sweet home. Thass why we’re long livers – fresh air, hard work and never go to th’old doctor. Old Cyril Bloomfield the great-granddaddy, at the end they took him orf to the horspital, thass what finished him off. Came out in a wooden box. Should a stayed at home, boy.

Q: Have you ever been to London?

A: We never been outside Suffolk, ‘cept to cross the border to Norfolk a few times. Been to Thetford twice. Been to Bury (Bury St Edmunds) many a time, at least once a year when I were young. After I took me pension, we took a trip to the seaside once, but there weren’t nothin’ to see there, just th’old water. Don’t go far afield now, there’s a lot to do in the garden and I’m rare slow now.

Q: Do you take a newspaper?

A: That’d be for gentry. What do we need that for?

Q: What about television or radio?

A: We don’t need any old tellyvision, all those pictures a-flashin’ afore you. Thass bad for you. We know what we need to know. We did have a wireless, but that broke after Hitler’s war and we never bothered to have it mended. Thass only bad news on the wireless, what them Lon’on folk get up to and what they be a’ doin’ in foreign parts. We don’t need to know that here.

Q: And the telephone?

A: We never had one o’ those.

A: (Sarah interrupts). Don’t need any o’ those. Every day, rain or shine, we walk up to the wood with our sticks and just sit there. John made us a bench with logs and a plank and we sit there and listen, a-mardlin’ (chatting), a-rememberin’ and a-musin’ on th’old times. That were a hard life afore the war in 14, but that were a good life. That seem like yesterday. The whisperin’ and murmurin’ o’ the leaves and the swayin’ o’ the wheat in the breeze tell us all we need to know. God speak to us through what He made. We talk to th’old trees and they talk to us. In the spring there are bluebells up there and in the summer the peggles (cowslips) come out.

Thass rare nice in the autumn, when the leaves do fall soft as ever leaves did fall. Leaves been a-fallin’ and trees a-growin’ since time began. I love th’old oaks. Stout as England. Our Edmund were tied to an oak by those wicked old Danes. When the Good Lord call us, we want to be buried up there, don’t we, Moses? Thass rare peaceful up there. I just want to fall asleep and not wake up agen and then they can leave old Sarah up there ‘mong the trees with Moses and Aaron, ‘neath the gentle wind on the hill and the swayin’ o’ the branches. Thass where I’ll have my peace and see ma and daddy and everyone on th’other side. On th’other side thass just like here, only far, far better, no aches and no pains, no chores and no frettin’.

Q: Who was Aaron?

A: (Moses). That were me twin brother Aaron. He died when he were only a day old, frail little old thing, he weren’t made for this world, so ma said. We buried him up there ‘mong the trees. He’s a-waitin’ for me now. Been a-waitin’ all these years. I’m a comin’, boy, I’m a comin’ soon.

Q: So there were three of you in the family?

A: (Sarah). No, no, there were seven of us. The eldest were Abraham and Esther, they died o’ the hoop (whooping cough) when they were just little mites. Then there were Abel. He were taken in the Kaiser’s War, out in France, in 1915. He were only 21. Thass his picture over the fireplace (she points to the enlarged photo of a private in First World War uniform), above the photo of ma and daddy on the mantelpiece. John’s father had it made big and framed it up for us on the fiftieth anniversary. They never did find Abel’s body, but there’s a white cross out somewhere in France for him, the poor little mite. Private Abel Dove’s a-awaitin’ for us on th’other side too. They’re all a-waiting for us there. Then there’s me and after me came Jeremiah. He were a worker, he were, never stopped and his little old heart gave out in 1959, God rest his soul. Then came Moses and Aaron, they were the youngest. Now there’s just me and Moses left in all God’s wide world. We’re the last, all alone, a-waitin’ for the Good Lord to come steppin’ ‘cross the fields, a-callin’ us, a-gatherin’ us in like ears of wheat, in His own good time. That won’t be long now. We’re ‘spectin’ Him any day.

Q: Did you never want to get married, Sarah?

A: I’d a married, but there were no min left to marry. They all got taken in the Kaiser’s War. So I stayed at home and looked after ma and daddy. They both died in 1946, after old Hitler’s war, within a week o’ each other. 82 were ma and daddy were 84.

Q: What about you, Moses? Why didn’t you marry?

A: I never were a one for marryin’. I didn’t want to be tied down. I loved to go a-wanderin’ in the woods and fields at night, a-listenin’ to the owls and the little old dormousen nestin’ up, a-watchin’ the clouds by the moonlight. Clouds is God’s angels, each one‘s got a story to tell. Only you have to watch ‘em close to know what they’re a-sayin’. In the summer I allus used to sleep out there, with just the foxes and the badgers and the leaves a’rustlin’ in the night air. In the winter, I’d go up there to walk at night, the leaves all a-rimed white with th’old frost. That were the life for me, next to God’s creatures.

Q: Sarah, what was the most terrible thing you heard of in your long life?

A: Well, I reckon that were the slayin’ o’ the Russian King in 1918, all those poor little children, they didn’t deserve that. Like lambs to the slaughter, they were. They did with them like they did with our Lord. Daddy and ma said the same thing. I was 21 then and that fair marked me. And truth to tell and the devil to shame, ever since then nothin’’s been right with the world, thass all been upside down, people rushin’ about, doin’ each other down, makin’ wars. No more peace ever since.

F’r instance, now they go under the sea and through the sky. Thass not natural. He made the fish to go under the sea. And if the dear Lord had wanted us to fly, He’d a given us wings. Thass angels that fly, thass not for folk like you and me. All those airyplanes, thass upset the weather. And then they went up over the sky where they should never a gone. That were downright presumptious, that were. They had no right goin’ up there. Nothin’ good’ll come of it, you mark my words. Pride go afore the fall. They’re tryin’ to go up like the Tower of Babel, outreachin’ themselves, makin’ tall things as ugly as sin. Well, that’ll all come tumblin’ down agen on their heads. Woe betide.

Mind you, if you go back, things started goin’ awry afore that. Our great-grandma Bathsheba, she were born in 1799 and passed over at 105, used to blame it on old Boney, the Frenchman. (Moses interrupts: Thass when they brought in th’old income tax. Wicked thing that, a-takin’ folk’s hard-earned money. Thass stealin’. Thou shalt not steal, it say, but they still steal through the tax). Well, Bathsheba reckoned Boney were the devil incarnate. Thass our Nelson stopped him, he were a Norfolk man, one of us, one of Edmund’s men. A brave heart he had, he died a’fightin’ for Edmund’s land, our dear land.

Only, after we won and we’d locked old Boney away, that all went to the heads of the Lon’on folk and they started a-takin’ other folk’s lands, just like Boney done afore ‘em, only they did it ‘cross the seas among them poor old black and brown men, a-stealin’ their land and their housen. So they ended up no better than Boney, just as wicked. Thass all wickedness. Black-hearted wickedness. And thass all written down in the big white book in heaven ready for Judgement Day, every deed and every word, nothin’’s forgot. God see it all with His all-seein’ eye. There’ll be a tremblin’ and a shakin’ in those days when He come agen, but there’ll be justice. They’ll say, that weren’t me, but that were they. The Judgement’ll be just, ‘cos the Judge is Just. Just you mark my words. The truth will out. Nothing’s hid that won’t be found out.

But then agen me granddad’s granddad, old Edmund Dove, told him and he told me how the ills began when they went and changed our calendar. Now we’re days and days out and Easter fall weeks afore it should, a few year ago that snew (snowed) at the new Easter! And Christmas come far too early. That don’t seem like Christmas at all. All the seasons are out o’ kilter. Thass against nature. That were them Lon’on folk that went and changed it. Went to their heads, you see. Then they upset our folk out in the colonies in ‘Merica and the colonials took against the German king that them old merchants and bankmen had brought over. They’d got rid of the proper king, you see, all for filthy lucre. That weren’t right either. We didn’t want a German king, we wanted our own king, like Edmund. Edmund were king of the folk in the north and king of the folk in the south, we were all one then, all Christian folk, all proper. Norwich were much bigger than Lon’on in them days, Lon’on weren’t much more than a village. Thass how it should a stayed.

A: (Moses interrupting). That were when all the wrong started, after Edmund’s time. In Edmund’s time there weren’t no Lon’on to speak of. O’ course, that old Henry made it all worse, but it were his great-great-granddad William that came over from France who started it, ‘cos Henry were just a-followin’ in his footsteps. Henry were William, you see, one and the same, ‘cos they had the same devil in ‘em and neither o’ them could keep the faith. Both foreign imps with foreign names, them names aren’t in the Bible. No Henry or William in the Bible. Henry were a Welshman and that William, he were another heathen Dane, but from France. They didn’t love England, our Edmund’s land.

Q: What do you think, Sarah?

A: Oh yes, that were them heathen Danes that arrowed our Edmund to the oak and made him a holy one that started it all, ‘cos they didn’t know the Ten Commandments. They were pirates, you see, thieves. That were the start of it all. Thou shalt not steal, but they stole. We still talk about our Edmund in these parts and when I were a young mawther, they shew me where it all came to pass, over in Hoxne. I went there afore the War, the Kaiser’s War, that is, and I saw it all, a cross in the wheatfields. I remember it like it were yesterday. After the White King have come, Edmund’ll come back, a-marchin’ through the wheatfields with all his host of men behind him, all Edmund’s men and England’ll be England agen, and there’ll be peace for a time. Then that’ll be the end and the Good Lord’ll come back, just like He said He would.

Q: What should we do about bad kings like the German king and William and Henry? Should we rise up against them?

A: No, no, let the Lord judge ‘em. The Lord give and the Lord take away. Here today, gone tomorrow. If we’re worthy, we’ll get good kings. If we‘re not worthy, we’ll get what we deserve. He’ll take ‘em away in His own good time. You don’t want to do like that old Oliver who were sore vexed and chopped off the poor old king’s head. He were a wrong’un, that Oliver, he finished up bad. They cut off his head, just like he’d done to that poor old king. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. All the rum’uns (bad ones) that follow Oliver finish up bad.

Q: What do you think of Brexit, Moses? I mean leaving the European Union?

A: Europe Union? Never heard o’ that. That must be some Lon’on thing. We don’t have that hereabouts. We’re in our own land, Edmund’s land. Everyone should live in their own land, thass where God put us. Thass sovereign land. Thass natural. We live in the house where we were born. We’re Edmund’s folk, we are, allus will be.

Q: What do you think of all the things happening today, Sarah? I mean the terrorists and all these bombs?

A: Thass all the same thing, these Mohameddans with their wicked old bombs. Young John Bloomfield told us about what they’re a-doin’. You see, the Mohammeddans, they ha’n’t got the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill. Thass all written in the Good Book. They haven’t got the Good Book. Just like them old heathen Danes who slew Edmund – they didn’t have the Good Book either. Hellfire, thass how they’ll end up. Sulphur and brimstone, that stink somethin’ awful. Mind you, thass the same thing for them there soldiers they sent out to kill the Mohammedans, they’re not Christian folk either, they haven’t got the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill. Thass crystal clear. Keep the faith, keep the commandments and you can’t go wrong.

Q: So what’s the future of the world, Sarah? It all looks so bleak. Bad is on all sides.

A: Don’t you go a-frettin’ yourself (worrying) about that. The White King is a-comin’ back in Russia to put it all right. You’ll see. They started a-spreadin’ the evil all round, they got William to bring it here from France, they took it overseas, and then, with the passing o’ time, they thought they could take it to Russia as well, but that wouldn’t take in Russia. Thass where the evil were held in check. Before long the White King’ll come back there and sweep all the wicked there clean away, and then he’ll come here and do the same, in the twinklin’ of an eye, that’ll be.

My great-uncle Isaiah, who were married to my ma’s aunt Martha, told me that before Hitler’s war after we’d been allies with Russia. He were a preacher down at the green tin tabernacle, that ain’t there no more now. He walked miles and miles every Sunday to preach to local folk, a rare righteous man, he were, one of the Peculiar People, allus dressed in black, with a long white beard. He knew the Four Gospels by heart and a lot o’ the psalms. He preached a rare good sermon and baptised a rare many folk in the river near Bury, a rare clean soul he were and the Good Lord told him many a secret thing.

You see, at the end o’ time, when Our Lord come back, there’ll be a judgement and the good ones’ll go to heaven and the wicked ones’ll go to hell. Folk nowadays don’t know that and thass why there’s so much wickedness about. All those wicked min who take money and lie and start wars and murder, they’ll all burn in hell. If they knew that, they wouldn’t do it. Too late for ‘em now. Thass a terrible thing, to die without a-sayin’ sorry.

Q: Thank you, Moses and Sarah. I’ve learned a lot.

A: (Moses). You need to live and do, boy! Thass th’only way you can larn. Live with God’s gentle things and you’ll know all you’ll ever need to know.

Note: Many readers have written to me concerning the above, not having noticed the tag ‘Faction’. However, I can reassure them that 99% of the above is true, being based on conversations with various friends and relatives, notably Victoria Saunders, Doris Phillips, Sydney and Louisa Clarke and the Dove family, whom I knew between 1961 and 1979 and who died in the 1980s. The only things that are not true is that the Doves are still alive and live in the fictional and symbolically-named Little Godmanstowe.

Fr Andrew

Three Truths from Childhood


Most say that our earliest years are our most formative years, when all else is decided, and that much depends on the happiness or unhappiness of childhood, which determines all that follows. For my part, over six childhood years, between the ages of six and twelve I learned three truths, essentially the only truths I know, that have shaped the rest of my life. You may argue with how I have interpreted those truths, interpretations patterned also by other events and meetings, but I do not think that the truths themselves can be denied, however attached to the world, its Establishment and its delusions people may be.

Western Civilization Has Destroyed Itself

The first truth came to me in a realization when I was still an innocent six years old. I had been brought up on the phrases ‘before the war’, referring to the Second World War, and ‘nothing has ever been the same again’, referring to the First World War. Brought up surrounded by a grandfather who had fought in Baghdad, Jerusalem and Thessaloniki in the First World War, not to mention a host of nineteenth-century great-uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Russia, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, I knew all about the tragic results of the Great War.

Born a few years after the end of the Second World War and listening to the stories of my father who had fought in Egypt, Italy and Austria, not to mention to a host of uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Burma, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, and living in a tiny town sandwiched between two former wartime US airfields, I knew about that War too. And my father assured me that, even though Nazidom in Europe had in fact been defeated by the extraordinary sacrifices of the Russian peoples, and not by the USA, ever since the War we had been occupied by the United States.

He taught me too that, on account of the above, those who seemingly ruled over us had no power at all, but were just as much puppets and figureheads as the Queen who reigned over us. All was a sideshow in the great American circus. My child’s conclusion was that there had been something wrong with that world, something wrong with a British Empire and a Western Europe, both now collapsed, that had been Catholic and Protestant and had created World Wars and so been dominated by the Far West of America. And it was also clear to me that any solution to such universal wars must also be universal, must come from outside the Western world and must not involve new wars.

English Christian Civilization Was Martyred

The second truth came to me in a realization when I was nine years old, in fact exactly 50 years ago. This was the discovery at my rural primary school of the only figure in English history to be called ‘the Great’, the ninth-century King Alfred the Wise of England. This discovery explained to me that there was something far older that stood behind the plastic falsity of the 1960s that was being unfolded then and behind all the falsity of the old Victorian England (apparent to me as a child), with its hopeless provinciality and Protestant sectarianism, narrow literalism, hypocrisy, philistinism and rigid moralizing, that passed for ‘religion’, but was in fact State-invented idolatry.

A recent invention, that Protestantism had no concept of the Church, and so no concept of Oneness (except with its fellow-sectarians), of Holiness, of Catholicity and of Apostolicity. Its only thought was to reshape the world idolatrously, in its own image, not in the image of the Kingdom of God. Alfred explained to me that England had been founded at a time when we belonged to something far greater, indeed universal, and yet also local, a sunshone Civilization. It explained to me all the mysterious names of local ‘saints’ that in hints and gleams had shone to me, of Edmund, in whose domain my father’s family had always lived, of Albright, Audrey, Botolph, Cedd and Felix, of whom nobody seemed to know anything any more.

And I realized that these legends that had survived were mere crumbs from a huge and now lost banquet table, the hidden and forgotten ruins of a whole Civilization, and that if we could somehow return to that, then there would be no more World Wars and so no more destroyed lives. Soon I discovered that all had been slain with the Norman Invasion exactly 900 years before and that through their ‘Establishment’ they still occupied and polluted minds and hearts and that their invasion had come about because of the spiritual decadence of the English, shown by the martyrdom of the English hero St Edward the Martyr and the slaying of the English hope, Edmund Ironside.

Russia Has a Universal Significance

The third truth came to me when I was twelve years old. This was through the film Dr Zhivago, which I saw at that time. Although there were many things in it that I did not understand, I realized that Russia (then cast as the ever-menacing bogeyman, the Soviet Union, the S.U.) had not always been so, but had also lost its sunshone Civilization, and only fifty years before, in a great betrayal. And that that Civilization had been betrayed because it had confessed the authentic Christianity that had not been invented by self-justifying powermongers, grand inquisitors, to control the masses, like Protestantism or, before it, Catholicism, but had been different and also universal, indeed messianistic, and non-destructively so. And ever since that great betrayal, the world had not been the same.

As a result we lived under the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war and the obliteration of the planet, under the brainwashing and self-justifying propaganda that the other side, in fact also cowering, was going to bomb us into oblivion. And I realized that if nothing had ever been the same again, it had not been due to 1914, terrible though that was, or even to 1917, but due to 1918, the martyrdom of the Christian Emperor. And that as a result of that, the S.U. and the U.S. now menaced the world with its end; it made no difference whether the white star or the red star would unleash that war, it would be the end. Only afterwards did I discover that all such stars were from Antichrist. This most unlikely revelation came to me in October 1968 in my native town, in a place that I can take you to this day.

All this was most unlikely, for how could one believe in the Christian Empire of Russia when that Empire had been overthrown and all but lost and there seemed no hope of its resurrection? Yet I found my path. In order to follow it, I had to go against all the odds, past the traps and rejections of those whom the world had put in control, past the Establishment snobs, the narrow nationalists (of all nationalities), the morally corrupt and compromised, the spiritually deluded dreamers, the self-serving backbiters, the jealously destructive narcissists, until I came to the saints, whom I met and who taught me to ignore all the rest, like so much flotsam and jetsam, and to follow only the holy. They taught me: ‘I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord’ and ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.


How much longer do we have to go? Perhaps not long, but perhaps we can still postpone the inevitable end. Now that the Russian leader has been greeted as a new Emperor Constantine on the increasingly Russian-dominated Holy Mountain, enthroned, unlike the petty EU freemasons who reign over Greece, standing side by side with the Russian Patriarch, celebrating a thousand years of presence there. He, of course, is not an emperor, but he may be the coming Emperor’s forerunner, lighting the way. Perhaps we may still be granted additional time, to restore what has been lost, and speak of mercy and truth and righteousness, those still unheard words of Christ, to the world.

Suffolk Restores St Edmund

The county of Suffolk was buzzing with activities yesterday in celebration of (the new style) St Edmund’s Day. Downpours failed to dampen the spirits as different events honoured the King of East Anglia, who was martyred by Viking invaders on 20 November 869.

Greater Anglia’s St Edmund train was rededicated at Ipswich railway station yesterday morning by the Precentor of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. In Bury St Edmunds, Greene King marked the day by opening its new £750,000 St Edmund Brewhouse at its headquarters in the town. Elsewhere, St Edmundsbury Cathedral hosted a performance of Courage of a King and held a special communion service. Author Mark Taylor was at the Cathedral and at Waterstones signing copies of his new book Edmund: The Untold Story of the Martyr King and his Kingdom, and prizes in the St Edmund’s Day Awards were handed out yesterday evening. Thousands of schoolchildren across Suffolk took part in activities to promote the Saint. And finally councillors from Suffolk and Norfolk, the bulk of the old East Anglian Kingdom, met to discuss uniting several of their services.

St Edmund has always been the patron saint of England, even though St George the Great-Martyr eclipsed him from the 14th century on. In the last few years, however, throughout East Anglia, St Edmund has been promoted and begun to eclipse St George as the local favourite. The Bury St Edmunds MP, David Ruffley, and The East Anglian Daily Times have backed a campaign to get him reinstated as the nation’s patron saint, which has been led by BBC Radio Suffolk.