The Menaion of the Saints of the Isles: The Services to the Major Saints of the British Isles and Ireland

The struggle to compose and then have accepted and celebrated services to the ancient Orthodox Saints of the ex-Roman Catholic and ex-Protestant countries of Europe has been a very long one. Much opposition had to and sometimes still has to be overcome and all had to be done in conditions of deprivation and opposition. Nearly all the services to the major saints of Western Europe were composed between 1980 and 2015, though a few date back before this, in part through the blessed inspiration of St John of Shanghai and Western Europe (+ 1966).

Of the 64 services we propose to edit, 53 were composed by my late friend, the brilliant and prolific translator of the Church’s liturgical treasury, Monk Joseph (Isaac/Edward) Lambertsen. He composed most of the services to local Western saints on my commission, as I knew that his health was already failing, and that he was very busy, engaged with the composition of many other services to saints of all lands and ages, as well as with translations. Isaac worked quickly and always humbly, sending me his services for checking, suggestions and then electronic publishing.

Six of these services (All the Saints of the Isles, All the Saints of the Western Lands, St Alfred, St Audrey, St Edmund and St Felix), were composed by myself to long-beloved local saints between 1998 and 2015, though in part they go back before that, three services (St Patrick, St Brigid and St Edward) were composed by the late Valeria Hoecke and translated by Monk Joseph, one (to St Botolph) by the monks of the Transfiguration Monastery in Boston in 1992 and one (to St Rumwold) by Rumwold Leigh from London.

For many years available in an unedited form on the orthodoxengland website, it has long been time to edit and present these services in a homogenous form for use in the British Isles and Ireland. Time has been in short supply and it will be a labour of love over the next few years to bring all the services to the same standard, that set by the brilliant translations of Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), master of Byzantine Greek and liturgical English. This means eliminating the language of the neophyte, that curious mixture of artificially archaic English and its Latinate Victorian vocabulary and grammar and untranslated foreign literalisms, and so inculturating the services for the 21st century. Our services are intended for use in the local liturgical English in use in the British Isles, without an alien phraseology and sectarian idiom.

Thus they will be put into the standard liturgical English, as used in our parishes in these islands. Apart from this change, there are occasional historical inaccuracies and typos and above all the many changes made to formating, spelling and punctuation. Of the 62 individual saints whose services we project to edit, 50 are connected with England (though 8 are not English), 5 with Ireland, 4 with Wales and 3 with Scotland. To some extent this reflects the interest in native Orthodoxy shown by people in each of these countries, with much greater interest being shown in England.

We dedicate this Menaion to the eternal memory of our pioneer, Monk Joseph (Lambertsen) (1949-2017). Eternal Memory!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

St John’s Orthodox Church,

Colchester,

England

St Edmund’s Tide

20 November/3 December 2020

1151st Anniversary of St Edmund’s Martyrdom

Contents

 All dates are given first according to the Church calendar, and then according to the civil calendar. Services in bold have already been edited.

Volume I – September to March

  1. 16 / 29 September – St Ninian
  2. 16 / 29 September – St Edith of Wilton
  3. 19 September / 2 October – St Theodore of Tarsus
  4. 7 / 20 October – St Osyth of Chich
  5. 10 / 23 October – St Paulinus of York
  6. 12 / 25 October – St Edwin the Martyr
  7. 12 / 25 October – St Wilfrid of York
  8. 19 October / 2 November – St Frideswide of Oxford
  9. 25 October / 7 November – St John of Beverley
  10. 26 October / 9 November – St Alfred the Great
  11. 26 October / 9 November – St Cedd of Essex
  12. 3 /16 November – St Rumwold
  13. 3 / 16 November – St Winifred of Wales
  14. 7 / 20 November – St Willibrord (Clement) of Utrecht
  15. 17 / 30 November – St Hilda of Whitby
  16. 20 November / 3 December – St Edmund the Martyr
  17. 3 / 16 December – St Birinus of Wessex
  18. 12 / 25 December – St Finnian of Clonard
  19. 12 / 25 January – St Benedict of Wearmouth
  20. 14 / 27 January – St Kentigern of Glasgow
  21. 15 / 28 January – St Ita of Ireland
  22. 29 January / 11 February – St Gildas the Wise
  23. 1 / 14 February – St Brigid of Ireland
  24. 3 / 16 February – St Werburga
  25. 25 February / 10 March – St Ethelbert of Kent
  26. 28 February / 13 March – St Oswald of Worcester
  27. 1 / 14 March – St David of Wales
  28. 2 / 15 March – St Chad of Lichfield
  29. 8 / 21 March – St Felix, Apostle of East Anglia
  30. 17 / 30 March – St Patrick of Ireland
  31. 18 / 31 March – St Edward the Martyr
  32. 20 March / 2 April – St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Volume II – April to August

  1. 10 / 23 April – Martyrs of Chertsey
  2. 11 – 24 April – St Guthlac of Crowland
  3. 19 April / 2 May – St Alphege the Martyr
  4. 29 April / 12 May – St Erconwald of London
  5. 3 / 16 May – St Brendan the Voyager
  6. 19 May / 1 June – St Dunstan of Canterbury
  7. 25 May/7 June – St Aldhelm of Sherborne
  8. 27 May / 9 June – St Bede the Venerable
  9. 28 May / 10 June – St Augustine of Canterbury
  10. 30 May / 12 June – St Walstan of Taverham

Falling in June or July

  1. All the Saints of the Isles
  2. All the Saints of the Western Lands
  3. 1 / 14 June – St Wite of Dorset
  4. 3 / 16 June – St Kevin of Glendalough
  5. 5 / 18 June – St Boniface of Crediton
  6. 9 – 22 June – St Columba of Iona
  7. 17 / 30 June – St Botolph of Iken
  8. 17 – 30 June – St Nectan of Hartland
  9. 22 June – 5 July – St Alban of Verulamium
  10. 23 June / 6 July – St Audrey of Ely
  11. 2 / 15 July – St Swithin of Winchester
  12. 8 / 21 July – St Edgar the Peaceful
  13. 13 / 26 July – St Mildred of Thanet
  14. 1 / 14 August – St Ethelwold of Winchester
  15. 2 / 15 August – St Plegmund of Canterbury
  16. 5 /18 August – St Oswald the Martyr
  17. 10 / 23 August – St Bertram of Ilam
  18. `17 / 30 August – St James of York
  19. 23 August/5 September – St Ebba of Coldingham and Companions
  20. 25 August/7 September – St Ebba of Coldingham
  21. 31 August/13 September – St Aidan of Lindisfarne
  22. 31 August/13 September – St Eanswythe of Folkestone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Dress Modestly

With the huge influx of Orthodox into the Colchester parish over the last two weeks after recent publicity (over 6,000 hits on Google per week instead of the usual 200), we have finally decided to put up a simple notice regarding dress. We had always been reluctant to do this. Some churches do have such notices, but they can sound either anti-woman or else rather pharisaical. This is what we have decided to put up. Possibly it will help others.

 

Please dress modestly for Church!

 Men: Please do not wear shorts. Put on something better than what you wear at work, at home or on the street. Church is a special place, so we wear our best clothes.

 Ladies: Please wear a dress or a skirt and cover your head, as the Apostle Paul says. Church is a place of prayer and modesty.

 Thank you!

Awaiting Real Change

According to the official patriarchia.ru site, last Wednesday Bishop Savva (Tutunov), the French-born Bishop of Zelenograd who is in charge of the administrative affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, spoke of President’s Biden’s supposed intention to stop interfering in other countries’ affairs.

Although on 31 August the President was speaking of the failure of the USA to conquer Afghanistan, Bishop Savva was thinking more of the US interference in the affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Bishop said that the President’s statement did not show a sincere desire to put right the damage caused by those interventions. Bishop Savva continued:

‘Here we cannot see any good, repentance or putting right of the evil done by the interventions…The US projects for the ‘Orthodox Church in the Ukraine’ and the schism brought into the Orthodox Church now, alas, even if its overseas patrons reject it (which is doubtful) will still exist, even if it is decomposing. Overcoming this evil, if that is God’s will, will take time. But the consequences for a great many real people will not go away’, said the Bishop on his Telegram channel. Bishop Savva remarked that a public renunciation of ‘the destructive projects’ of the USA is not to be expected.

 

Memories are Made of This: Fifty Years of Moments of Destiny

North Essex village, late August 1971

After a summer storm in the late afternoon, a rainbow appears in the sky over the fields. I hear a voice telling me: ‘You will be a Russian Orthodox priest’. I have no idea why. It all seems so highly unlikely. Fifty years later, perhaps to the day, in a train passing through the fields of Northern France returning from Paris, I  remember this.

Oxford, October 1973.

This is my first visit to an Orthodox church. The chapel is in a room in a Victorian house and the Vigil is attended by a few elderly émigrés and one or two others. As soon as I enter that chapel, I feel perfectly at home, feeling as though I had always been there.

Krasnodar, Southern Russia, July 1976.

I have been to Sts Peter and Paul’s Day at the Cathedral. At the end of the service a priest is holding a cross for the people to kiss. His face is shining like the sun and expresses an unbreakable strength. Going back to the University, I see an old lady on the bus, whom I have already seen at the church. Her face is shining like the sun too and she seems incredibly young and beautiful.

Karyes, Mt Athos, May 1979.

I meet Fr Vasily, a very elderly Ukrainian monk, who tells me about all the details of recent demonic attacks in Northern Greece. I take him for a fool for Christ or prophet. He is.

Paris suburb, March 1989.

Here I meet Count Komstadius. His father was the estate manager of the Imperial Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. He was the playmate of the Tsarevich Alexis before the Revolution. Now he lives in a Russian old people’s home in this north-western suburb. Before us burns an icon-lamp in front of an icon of the Imperial Martyrs. He says what a good likeness the icon is, it really portrays the Imperial Family as he knew them.

Geneva, September 1994.

It is the funeral of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva. Fifteen priests of many nationalities take turns to carry the heavy, zinc-lined coffin around the Cathedral. It is the end of an era.

San Francisco, May 2006

In the early afternoon of the Wednesday of the week-long Fourth Council, we reach a turning-point. Are we going to sign for unity with the Patriarch and the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church or not? There is great tension in the air. We sign, almost unanimously. It is a miracle. The tension dissolves.

Moscow, May 2007

The rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the sign of victory over Napoleon and his atheist hordes and over Stalin and his atheist hordes. His Holiness Patriarch Alexiy II and the saintly Carpathian boy, now an elderly man, Metropolitan Laurus, sign the Act of canonical Communion, while I confess repentant, ex-Soviet generals.

Suffolk, May 2008

The phone rings and a voice says: ‘The Church is yours your offer has been accepted’. An unexpected miracle, against all the odds, worked by St John of Shanghai.

Saint Petersburg, October 2012

My first visit to Tsarskoe Selo and the very clear impression that I have been waiting to come here all my life.

Paris, late August 2021

Fifty years on. At noon on Friday in the late summer, I have come to St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Rue Daru, which holds so many memories for me. And now, miraculously, it is part of the Russian Orthodox Church again, as I had fought for during over thirty years. Its return has changed everything. Having travelled by train from London, I am meeting His Eminence Metropolitan Jean of the Archdiocese of Western Europe to collect from him antimensia and myrrh for all our clergy and parishes in England. It is the first time I have seen him in 42 years. It is remarkable how many things we have in common despite obvious differences: French and English. Single and married. Older and younger. And yet both of us have served for 37 years in a parish. We have the same values, the same thoughts, the same pastoral and missionary vision of the Church, Faithful to the Tradition and yet Local. What a happy and sunny day.

 

 

 

On Spreading Love

As we approach the Church New Year in September, let us recall why we are here and what our mission is.

The sad fact in the Life of Christ is that there were many who refused to accept His greatest and most revolutionary message – that God is Love. We see this refusal in the ‘scribes, pharisees, hypocrites’ to whom Christ said ‘Woe unto you’. The great sin of the people of the Old Testament, constantly denounced by the fool-for-Christ prophets, was idolatry. There were many who preferred to remain in that Old Testament idolatry, with its punishing god, politicking, moralism, judgementalism, sectarianism, ritualism and nationalism, simply hatred for others. To accept Christ’s message of compassion was too much for them.

Let us in this Church New Year leave in the past anything that is not about spreading Love. As the English writer, G. K., Chesterton, wrote a century ago: ‘The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried’. Let us make sure that we are on the side of the prophets and not on the side of the pharisees.

1 September 2021

The Tragedy of Afghanistan

Long before the Marxist invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the Western world was involved in political manipulations there. Indeed, they were what provoked the (foolish) Marxist invasion, as the Soviet Union, like the Russian Empire before it, always feared encirclement by aggressors. Its fear was real, as it came from continuous invasions of it, from the 13th century onwards. The Soviet Union did not want foreign missiles on its border with Afghanistan. After all, the positioning of missiles on the Soviet border with Turkey was after all what had provoked the 1962 Cuban Crisis, which was resolved only when the West backed down and withdrew their missiles, which led to the Soviets withdrawing theirs from Cuba.

The futile invasion of Afghanistan cost the US taxpayer well over $2 trillion (and the British taxpayer £35 billion). It was where the CIA trained Osama Bin Laden in terrorism, with consequences that are well-known. Far worse, it cost the US and Britain (and other NATO followers) thousands of lives. Far worse, it cost the Afghan people hundreds of thousands of lives from invaders (‘international or coalition forces’ or ‘the international community’ in BBCspeak) and millions of refugees. All for nothing. The West never learned the lessons of other lost wars: you cannot win a war when the people do not support you; you cannot impose your alien culture on people who have a culture ten times older than your own; you must respect others, not trample them down.

In reality, the rural masses – as opposed to the Westernised urban elite- want their country back. This is a repeat of what happened in Russia after 1917 and what happened in Iran after 1979, when the masses revolted against the highly Westernised urban elites. In the first case Marxism came to power, in the second case Shia Islam. In both cases foreign intrigues produced the opposite of what they sought, an anti-Western instead of a pro-Western regime.

Afghanistan is another example of the consequence of meddling in another country’s and another culture’s affairs because you think that you can ‘westernise’ the people. All you do in fact is alienate them. The Afghans have now defeated the British Empire, the Marxist Empire and the American Empire, in this ‘graveyard of empires’. Kabul will surely fall soon – it only ever was an enclave, financed at huge cost, in a country that was always largely controlled by the Taliban, who were Western-trained and Western-armed.

Amid the humming of shredders in embassies and the roar of helicopters and transport planes taking away escaping Westerners and Westernised, the Taliban are now ever stronger inside the gates of Kabul. They are now armed with the American weapons left there en masse and reinforced by the so-called Afghan Army which immediately surrendered to their brother-Taliban with all their US equipment and without a shot being fired. Kabul’s return to the Taliban may not be in a month or two, as the patronising Western media are suggesting, it may only be in days*.

Foreign troops went to Afghanistan and imposed themselves, supposing that they owned the place. The locals with their age-old Eurasian cultures and languages did not like imperialism. After twenty years the invading troops have been forced to run. Now Taiwan may return to China, the Ukraine (or the 80% Non-Hapsburg part) may return to Russia – similarly elsewhere.

The Marxist Soviet Empire could never do anything in Afghanistan because it held to an atheist ideology. The same was true for all practical purposes of the British and American Empires. As a result of its atheism, the Soviet Empire disappeared thirty years ago. Today an Orthodox Russia might be able to help Afghanistan, as it could respect the religious values of the Taliban, though of course without fanaticism. However, is Orthodox Russia strong enough? Let us pray for all those who suffer so much in this much-suffering country.

14 August 2021

*In fact it was the day after this was written.

 

 

St Chad of Lichfield

We have already spoken elsewhere of the family character of much of Old English Christianity. Another illustration of it is without doubt that of the four brothers, St Cedd, Apostle of Essex, St Chad of Lichfield, St Cynibil and the priest Caelin. Of these four the best known and most loved is certainly St Chad who has thirty-three ancient churches dedicated to him and whose Christian name is still in use as a baptismal name today. Who was he?

Chad came from the North of England and he is linked with St Aidan of Lindisfarne, who sent him to Ireland to learn the monastic life. On his return, he became Abbot of the monastery of Lastingham (in Yorkshire) which his brother St Cedd had founded. In 664 he was chosen against his will by Oswy, King of Northumbria, to be bishop and Chad obediently received consecration as Bishop of York. The Venerable Bede says he was, ‘a holy man, modest in all ways, learned in the Scriptures and careful to practise all that he found in them. When he became bishop, he devoted himself to keeping the truth and purity of the Church, practising humility. After the example of the Apostles he travelled on foot when he preached the Gospel in towns of country, cottages, villages or strongholds’.

In 669 St Theodore of Canterbury appointed Wilfrid, who had at long last returned from Gaul, as Bishop of York and Chad humbly retired to his monastery of Lastingham. When Theodore found Chad’s consecration by a simoniac and two dubious Celtic bishops unsure, Chad merely answered ‘If you find that I have not duly been consecrated, I willingly resign the office, for I never thought myself worthy of it, but though unworthy, in obedience submitted to it’. Given such humility and ‘outstanding holiness’, Chad was not allowed to stay and Lastingham for long and Theodore soon named him Bishop of Mercia. Theodore told Chad that on long journeys he should ride on horseback and since is huge diocese covered seventeen counties from the Severn to the North Sea, this was most practical advice. Bede tells us that Chad administered the diocese ‘in great holiness of life after the example of the early Fathers’.

In Lincolnshire, also part of Chad’s diocese, he founded a monastery at Barrow. He established his See in Lichfield and in a house nearby lived the monastic life ‘with seven or eight brethren for prayer and study as often as he had spare time from the labour and ministry of the Word’. Chad ruled his diocese with great success but unfortunately his rule was not to be long. One day at the end of February 673 we are told that a monk Owen, or Owini, heard ‘sweet and joyful singing coming down from heaven to earth’ over the roof of the church at Lastingham, where Bishop Chad was praying. Chad asked Owen to assemble the brethren to whom he then foretold his death, saying: ‘The welcome guest has come to me today and deigned to call me out of this world’. Chad asked the monks for their prayers and advised all of them to prepare for their deaths ‘with vigils, prayers and good deeds’. When Owen asked about the singing, Chad told him that angelic spirits had come to him and they had promised to return within seven days to take him with them. And so it was that after only two and a half years of governing the diocese, Chad caught the plague and having received communion, on 2 March 672, ‘his holy soul was released from the prison of the body … he regarded death with joy as the Day of the Lord’.

The Venerable Bede lists Chad’s virtues – continence, right preaching, humility, voluntary poverty (non-possession) – and says that Chad was filled with the fear of God. So sensitive was he that even a high wind would remind him of the mortality of man and the judgement to come and he would at once call on God to have mercy on mankind. During a storm he would enter church and pray ardently with psalms until it was over. Such was Chad’s spiritual sensitivity and awareness of the closeness of God and the righteousness of His judgement. Bede later recorded how one monk saw St Cedd, who had died earlier than his brother, come down from heaven with angels to take Chad’s soul back with them. Chad was buried at Lastingham and his relics worked many miracles, including the healing of a madman. Later his relics were translated to Lichfield and the veneration of St Chad continued right until the Reformation – for nearly 900 years. Then his relics were dispersed and many of them lost of destroyed, although some survive and are now kept in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham – situated in Chad’s diocese of Mercia. And to this day in the Cathedral library of Lichfield is conserved a very early Gospel called ‘the Gospels of St Chad’; it may perhaps have been used by St Chad himself.

Of the many ancient churches dedicated to the Saint, two are in his first diocese in Yorkshire and Middlesmoor and Saddleworth, but the others are to be found in the Midlands, in Cheshire, Lincolnshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. In Lichfield he is remembered at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Chad and in an ancient parish church. Two villages are also named after him, Chadkirk in Cheshire and Chadwick in Lancashire. It would seem that many of these dedications actually represent churches founded by the Saint himself as he walked or rode from village to village all those years ago, preaching as he went. The number of churches dedicated to him in his all too brief episcopate in both Yorkshire and the Midlands shows just how much he was venerated after his righteous repose. Typically, most of the dedications to the saintly bishop are in quiet country villages, like a Bishop’s Tachbrook in Warwickshire or at Tushingham in Cheshire; and so his quiet and humble spirit even today still takes us from the madding crowd of this present and troubled and noisome world.

Holy Father Chad, pray to God for us!

Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition, October 1994

July 2021

 

Questions for an Interview with Fr. Andrew Phillips on the Bulgarian Edition of ‘Orthodox Christianity and the Old English Church’.

  • Father Andrew, to begin our interview, let us note that you are one of the serious researchers of Orthodox Christianity in England. Your many works pay attention to the spreading of Christianity before the schism of 1054. Tell us first how did it happen that you decided to dedicate yourself to this mission – to find and spread information and facts about the spreading of Christianity in England.

I was born and brought up not in London, which is the Norman capital of Britain, but in the English countryside. Here there still survived English traditions. There I lived near or heard of saints and places connected with saints, of whom I knew nothing. Adults seemed to know very little either. They would say, for example: ‘That was all a long time ago’ or ‘Things were different then’, or simply ‘He was a saint’. But nobody could tell me what a saint was. All I knew was that there was a special atmosphere around those saints and places, something warm and pleasant, something that made me feel at home.

So when I was eight years old I began trying to find out about them, asking people and looking for books about these saints. Who were these mysterious people with unfamiliar names? Even then I felt that they had a special aura about them, which was quite different from the atmosphere surrounding other more recent figures and places. I began realising that their values were quite different, but they were values with which I identified. By the time I was twelve, I knew that I belonged to them. Imagine a Bulgarian child hearing of St John of Rila and trying to find out about him. Who was he? When did he live? What did he express, write and believe? Why does he have this special atmosphere? What was this Church that he belonged to?

When I was twelve, I opened a mysterious book called ‘The New Testament’. I realised that the atmosphere and values expressed there were also mine and that they were identical to the atmosphere and values of these old saints. The New Testament, the words of Christ, explained them. When I was fifteen, I understood that somewhere there must be a church with these values. I could not find one. They all seemed empty inside. However, when I was sixteen, I managed to visit a Russian Orthodox church. Immediately, I felt at home and knew that this was my place, both the Church of the Gospels which Christ had spoken of and the Church of the old saints I had heard of in childhood. Their spirit was identical. I had found my identity, the world that I belonged to, Orthodox Christian Civilisation, of which the old saints in England had been tiny fragments a long time ago.

  • When you were researching this subject did you come across something that made a particular impression to you and remained etched in your memory? Something which you kept with yourself and remember well.

I think what impressed me as I did more research in my late teens and twenties was the parallels between the lives of these saints and those of Orthodox Eastern Europe, Russia, Greece and the Middle East. For example, I understood that Orthodoxy had come to Ireland from Egypt via Gaul. Later, indeed, I discovered that there are some fifty ancient Irish manuscripts at St Catherine’s monastery on Sinai! Or that the lives St Seraphim of Sarov in nineteenth-century Russia and St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne in seventh-century England are astonishingly similar. I realised that time and space, history and geography, are nothing before the Eternal God.

  • At the end of 2020 your book Orthodox Christianity and the Old English Church was published in Bulgaria. In it you deal chiefly on the evangelisation and the mission organized by St Gregory the Great and St Augustine of Canterbury. Christian evangelization however reaches further into Ireland and Scotland. Tell us more about the spreading of Christianity in these lands?

I wrote that book in 1988, so it has come to Bulgaria after 32 years!

The evangelisation of the Isles is very varied and there are many threads. For example the Celts in what is called Wales very much kept the Roman Christian inheritance which had come in the first four centuries after Christ. This is what lies behind the myths of King Arthur, fighting against the pagan English in order to defend the spirit of Roman Christianity. By the way, Arthur itself is a Roman name, meaning ‘Little Bear’. Many of the Welsh saints had Roman names like Ambrose or Justin, though the greatest is called David. Legend has it that in the sixth century he was consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The light from the East, and Christianity began in the East, in Asia, in Jerusalem, not at all in Europe, had to enlighten the West. From sunrise to sunset, east to west.

On the other hand, the Irish, who had never been Romanised received their Christianity from Egypt via Gaul. Here St Martin of Tours and his followers played an important role in transmitting the monasticism of the Egyptian Desert to Ireland. From Ireland this was taken by St Columba to Iona in what we now call Scotland. From Iona the Irish monastic influence spread southwards to Lindisfarne in Northern England and further south still to the Midlands and southwards.

Finally, there was the mission of St Augustine, sent by St Gregory the Dialogist from Rome to convert the English. (He had no knowledge of the situation in Wales, Scotland and Ireland). This mission was successful in the South of England, but the rest of the country was converted by the Irish influence. However, the future National Church was organised by this southern mission.

So the conversion of England was an Anglo-Celtic evangelisation. Influences came from Egypt, Gaul, Rome and then were assimilated by the local peoples, principally by the Irish and the English.

  • If one enters deeply into the subject of Christianity in Britain, he will see that there is a certain difference between English Christianity and Celtic Christianity. What is the difference between the two and to what can we attribute it?

As we have said, the British Isles and Ireland were evangelised from two places: Continental Europe and Egypt. I am not keen on the word Celtic in this historical context, it has Pagan/New Age connotations. It can often be replaced by the word ‘Irish’, but we can keep the word Celtic if we give it a Christian sense.

If we simplify the situation, we can say in general that administration and organisation came from Rome and affected the English more, whereas asceticism came from Ireland and influenced the Celtic peoples more. Of course, as we have said, the two influences merged. We have to see that the Isles (the British Isles and Ireland) are an Anglo-Celtic domain. The English need the Celts, the Celts need the English. Both organisation and asceticism are essential. Here there is a mystery, which is contemporary and even has a political dimension. The two peoples need one another.

  • Today the English Church is very different from what it was before. Do you consider that there is any opportunity at all in time for it to return to its deeper roots?

It depends what you mean by the English Church. There is really no such thing. In England 97% of people have no real and practising attachment to any Christian religious organisation. Perhaps 1% belong to Anglicanism (the State Church), 1% belong to various other Protestant groups and 1% to Roman Catholicism. All these organisations are dying out, very rapidly.

Once you have lapsed into heresy, that is the end of the road. For example, we receive English people into the Church who, like myself, were never Christians before. They have not been tainted by heterodoxy so they are receptive to the Church. As the Gospel says: ‘If a corn of what falls into the ground and does not die, it remains alone, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit’ (Jn. 12, 24).

  • Which English saint do you most often pray to and who are the most revered and worshipped saints of England among Orthodox Christians today?

I live in a town called Felixstowe, named after a saint called St Felix (+ 647), who nearly 1400 years ago came from Gaul and brought Christ to Eastern England, where I was born and live. The other saint is St Edmund, who was King of East Anglia, but was martyred by the pagan Vikings in 869. His memory is very much alive here and even his life is known to many in this region. We are just opening a new church dedicated to him. The saints live!

There are perhaps four other saints who are still revered. These are St Alban the Protomartyr (+ 305?) (and was recently added to the official Russian Orthodox calendar), St Cuthbert (+ 687) (especially in the North of England), St Audrey (+ 679) (especially in the East of England) and St Hilda (+ 680) (especially in the North).

June 2021

 

Press Release on the Joyful Feast of the Dormition 2021

As of Monday 23rd August the UK Deanery of the Archdiocese of Churches of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe has welcomed nine new parishes and communities with their clergy. The parishes have all voted according to Archdiocese tradition and petitioned to become member parishes of the Archdiocese. Their clergy also unanimously agreed and have been received by His Eminence Metropolitan Jean. It is canonical practice for clergy transferring from one diocese to another to be given papers of release and these have been requested by His Eminence. The clergy involved have all been received with the usual careful consideration. Nevertheless, there is an erroneous announcement circulating that one Archpriest Andrew Phillips has been suspended. This is not the case because he had already been received into the Archdiocese, so the said suspension is null and void. More details will follow in due course.

The Future

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become like sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not boast, is not puffed up,

5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;

6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails: but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

August 2021