By origin the word Europe means ‘the land of the sunset’, that is, the west, for it lies at the western tip of the 54.5 million square kilometres of the Eurasian Continent. Measuring 10.5 million square kilometres, only one fifth of the whole of Eurasia, Europe from a Church viewpoint can be divided into three parts. Over 50%, or 5.5 million square kilometres, 4.5 million square kilometres in Russia and just over 1 million in the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is canonical Russian Orthodox territory. The second part covers 1.4 million square kilometres and is the territory of various Local Orthodox Churches, the Romanian, Serbian (whose territory includes all of ex-Yugoslavia), Greek, Bulgarian, Polish, Czecho-slovak, and Albanian. This is two-thirds of Europe. There remains the final third of 3.6 million square kilometres.
This may be called Western Europe, even though it includes Central Europe, Hungary and Finland. The name can be justified because this part of Europe has for nearly one thousand years been isolated from the Church. This was as a result of the spiritual delusions, and so intellectual and political disaffection, jealousy and hostility towards the Church, of the governing elite of Western Europe. In other words, this is ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe. Going from west to east and north to south, this means the 25 countries of: Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles (the three countries of Wales, England and Scotland), Norway, Denmark (and the Faeroes), Sweden, Finland; the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany; France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary; Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, San Marino and Malta.
There exist many maps of this Western Europe. Some show the borders of the various states and the main cities; others show seas and lakes, hills and mountains; others show population density; others show the main roads and railways; others show the longevity of the population. And yet, although a millennium ago this Western Europe had a history of holiness, that is, of Orthodoxy, because this history has been forgotten, there is as yet no map showing the places hallowed by its saints who received the holiness brought to it from the east. If we drew up such a map of its saints, we would find huge variations. For example, in the very sparsely-populated Nordic countries, over one third of the area, we find little holiness, with no known native saints in Iceland and Finland and only a handful in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
However, in the rest of this Western Europe we find a very different situation. The centre of its holiness is what is now Italy (and San Marino), close to the source of the Faith in the East with the capital of Rome. From here holiness spread north to Gaul, now France, the second centre of holiness, to southern England and from there to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and from there to Austria and Hungary. From Gaul holiness also spread east to Switzerland, south and west to Andorra, Spain and Portugal, and north to what is now Belgium and above all to the thebaid of saints in Ireland, converted by the monastic life brought to them from Egypt via Gaul. Their influence spread back to east and south, to all the Celtic lands, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, and also to northern England, Belgium, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The first saints of this First Western Europe are of course the leading apostles, Peter and Paul, together with St James the Apostle in Galicia, as well as a huge number of internationally-venerated martyrs, especially in Rome, like St Pancras of Taormina (1st cent.), St Clement (100), St Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107), Sts Sophia, Hope, Faith and Love (2nd cent.), St Tatiana (225), St Cecilia (230), St Hippolytus of Rome (c. 235), St Agatha (251), St Lawrence (258), St Eugenia (262), Sts Chrysanthus and Daria (283), Sts Sebastian and Comps (287), St Maurice of Agaunum and the Theban Legion (287), St Anastasia of Rome (304), St Lucy of Syracuse (304), Sts Agapia, Chionia and Irene (304), St Vincent of Spain (304), St Eulalia of Barcelona (304), St Januarius of Pozzuoli (c. 305), St Alban of Verulamium (c. 305), St Pancras (early 4th cent), St Agnes (c. 350).
It includes Church Fathers like St Justin Martyr (165), St Irinei of Lyon (200), St Hilary of Poitiers (368), St Ambrose of Milan (387), St John Cassian (433), St Vincent of Lerins (445), Blessed Jerome of Stridon (c. 420), St Leo the Great (461), St Gregory the Great, called the Dialogist (604), St Maximus the Confessor (662). It includes pious bishops with Gallo-Romans like St Martial of Limoges (c. 250), St Saturninus of Toulouse (257), St Julian of Le Mans (Cenomansis) (3rd cent), St Paulinus of Nola (431), St Germanus of Auxerre (448), then later St Remigius (533), St Germanus of Paris (576), St Gregory of Tours (594), St Leander (601), St Valery (621), St Fulgentius (633), St Isidore of Seville (636), St Eligius (660), St Omer (670), St Amand (675), St Julian of Toledo (690), St Lambert (705), St Hubert (727), St Gregory of Utrecht (776).
It includes monastic founders like St Martin the Merciful of Tours (397), St Genevieve of Paris (500), St Benedict of Nursia (550), St Martin of Braga (580), St David of Wales (589), St Columba of Iona, Enlightener of Scotland (597), St Columban of Luxeuil (615), St Hilda of Whitby (680), St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (687), St Odile of Alsace (720). It includes confessors who evangelized whole stretches of this Europe, like the Roman-Britons St Ninian, Apostle of the Picts (450), St Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland (461), the English St Willibrord-Clement in the Netherlands (739) and St Boniface of Fulda, martyred in Frisia (754), St Anschar of Hamburg (865). It includes pious kings and queens, St Bathilde (545), St Oswald (642), St Clotilde (680), St Edmund of East Anglia (869), St Edward the Martyr (879), St Olaf of Sweden (950), St Olaf of Norway (1030).
The list of saints is immense. There are some ten thousand names of saints of Western Europe, martyrs and confessors, men and women, internationally-venerated and only locally-venerated, some with highly detailed lives, others little more than names. Forty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of England, despite the lack of any encouragement. Then thirty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of what is now France. However, that work was interrupted by the negativity of the then Exarchate in Paris and other concerns, one of which was work on the Saints of Iberia twenty-five years ago. That work helped lead to their recent adoption into a feast of the Diocese of Iberia under Archbishop Nestor. Now with a real Russian Exarchate for Western Europe in Paris, we will be turning our attention back to the Saints of what is now France.