Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe

Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Paris, home to the archdiocese
Territory Western Europe, British Isles
Metropolitan Paris
- Total

Parishes ca. 100
Rite Exarchate, Church Slavonic, local languages
Music: Russian Chant, Byzantine Chant
Calendar: Julian
Established 1931
Current leadership
Bishop Archbishop John of Charioupolis

The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe (formally the Exarchate of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe) is an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, following the Russian Orthodox tradition, based in Paris, and having parishes throughout Europe, mainly centered in France. The Exarchate is sometimes known as Rue Daru from the street in Paris where its cathedral is located.[1]


After the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Russian Orthodox Christians based outside Russia and those who fled there from the communist regime found themselves in a difficult situation. A solution intended as temporary was the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), in which during the early 1920s the vast majority of Russian Orthodox abroad participated, united by their opposition to the Soviet government. The Russian bishop of Paris at the time was Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky), who had been appointed by St. Tikhon of Moscow in 1921 as the representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow in Western Europe and sat in the synod with the remainder of the ROCOR bishops.

In 1927 Evlogy broke with the ROCOR (along with Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of New York, leader of the Russian Metropolia in America) and was subsequently condemned by them, splitting the Russian émigré community in Western Europe. In 1928, Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), then locum tenens of the Patriarch of Moscow, demanded declarations of loyalty to the Soviet regime, a proposition which Evlogy initially supported but subsequently repudiated. In 1930, after taking part in a prayer service in London in supplication for Christians suffering under the Soviets, Evlogy was removed from office by Sergius and replaced.

Most of Evlogy's parishes remained loyal to him, however, as they were generally against the Soviet government. Evlogy then petitioned Ecumenical Patriarch Photius II to be received under his canonical care and was received in 1931, making the church an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1945, shortly before his death, Eulogius led the exarchate back into the Moscow Patriarchate. However, after his death, a further break occurred, with a large number of parishes once again entering the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Exarchate was closed by Patriarch Athenagoras I through a letter dated 22 November 1965, with an assembly meeting 16–18 February 1966 noting that such provisional ethnic structures were no longer necessary, given that the passage of several generations had allowed immigrants to become accustomed to their new lands, which were now made up of more and more converts to the faith.

The Exarchate remained closed until 22 January 1971, when it was reinstated by the same Patriarch Athenagoras I - again under the Omophorion of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but with internal autonomy of organisation. This status was blessed by Patriarch Bartholomew I on 19 June 1999 who, according to the Exarchate's own account "recognised the full autonomy of the Archdiocese in administrative, pastoral and material terms".[2]

In 2006, against the protests of Moscow, the Exarchate received Bishop Basil (Osborne) of Amphipolis (formerly the temporary administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate's Diocese of Sourozh), along with a number of parishes and clergy in the United Kingdom. Bp. Basil was elected as an auxiliary of the Exarchate's archbishop and given care of the Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland, formed of those parishes and clergy that came with him.

Structure and composition

Since its reception by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1931, the Exarchate has grown to roughly 100 parishes (more than 40 of which are in France), served by about 66 priests who care for the needs of an increasingly multi-cultural flock, numbering roughly 100,000 strong. The Exarchate also has one monastery for women, the Orthodox Monastery of the Veil of Our Lady (Bussy-en-Othe, Burgundy, France), which publishes translations of liturgical materials.

Communities of the Exarchate, the largest Orthodox group in France where it is centered, range throughout Western Europe, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Spain. The Exarchate has been particularly active in missionary work in Scandinavia, including developing worship in the local languages.

Perhaps the best known institution of the Exarchate is the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, founded in 1925 by Metr. Evlogy and sometime home of several well-known Orthodox theologians and writers of the twentieth century, including Georges Florovsky, Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff (although not Vladimir Lossky, who neither taught at St. Sergius nor was a member of the Exarchate, himself remaining loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate).

Deanery of Great Britain and Ireland

From June 9, 2006 to October 12, 2009 the Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland was the Exarchate's vicariate, overseen by an episcopal vicar in these countries (known at times simply as "The Vicariate"); since the retirement of its bishop on October 12, 2009, it has become a Deanery within the Exarchate.

The Vicariate, as it existed under its vicar-bishop, was made up of a number of full-time parishes and some parishes and communities that meet less frequently. It was created by an act of the Council of the Archdiocese during an extraordinary meeting held on 9 June 2006, one day after the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople had met (8 June 2006) and issued a statement receiving Bishop Basil of Sergievo into the Patriarchate of Constantinople - an act that caused substantial controversy, as he had not been released from the Moscow Patriarchate.[3] The same statement gave Bishop Basil the new title, Bishop of Amphipolis (taken from an ancient see in Greece that no longer has a bishop), and charged him with the care of Exarchate's parishes in Great Britain and Ireland, as auxiliary bishop under Archbishop Gabriel of Komana in Paris.[4] At that time, no such parishes existed. After his appointment a number of parishes and communities, as well as some of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Sourozh, followed Bishop Basil into the Exarchate and came to constitute the Episcopal Vicariate. Other parishes and communities were formed later, where none had previously existed, for example in Cumbria, and Northampton.

Bishop Basil's first liturgical service as a member of the Exarchate was a concelebration of the Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Gabriel in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris on 18 June 2006. Statutes were adopted by the Episcopal Vicariate on 23 June 2007,[5] and the Vicariate was registered as a charity (registration number 1124252) on 29 May 2008.[6]

Retirement of Bishop Basil, and transition to the Deanery

Since Bishop Basil retired (on October 12, 2009) the Vicariate has become a Deanery within the Archdiocese. The formal name has now become the Deanery of Great Britain and Ireland within the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe.

Bishop Basil initially announced his retirement in a letter to parishioners on September 1, 2009, stating in that letter that he intended to retire on November 28, 2009, the same day that the Exarchate's Council would meet to, presumably, discuss the Vicariate's future.[7] However, when the Council met on September 23, 2009, under the presidency of Archbishop Gabriel, it moved Bishop Basil's retirement forward, to be effective from October 12, 2009.[8] In its communique No. 05-09 (dated September 23), it noted that Bishop Basil "will not have any further pastoral, liturgical or administrative mission in the Vicariate" from his retirement. Archbishop Gabriel made clear that the life of the [Vicariate's] parishes and communities in Great Britain and Ireland "are continuing, and that new communities are in formation and the ordinations of new clerics in preparation."[8]

Episcopal Ordinaries

‡ Deceased

Other bishops

See also


  1. "Rue Daru: Can a Franco-Russian Tragedy be Healed?". Retrieved 17 July 2010. This group, commonly known as ‘Rue Daru’ after the address of its Paris Cathedral,
  2. "Archevêché des églises russes en Europe occidentale - Brief history". Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  3. See details under Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh.
  4. ":. Ктрк "Дэвком"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  5. "Interfax-Religion". Interfax-Religion. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  6. 1 2 "Archevêché des églises russes en Europe occidentale - Communiqué N° 05-09 du Conseil de l'Archevêché". Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  7. "Archbishop Job released from his functions of Patriarchal Exarch of Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe".
  8. "Pastoral message from the locum-tenens, his Eminence John, bishop of Charioupolis".
  9. "Communiqué of the Archdiocesan Administration of 25 April 2016".
  10. "Retirement of Bishop Basil of Amphipolis". Exarchate of Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe. 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2010. Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, assistant bishop in charge of the Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland, has made known to Archbishop Gabriel his wish to retire on grounds of his age and his state of health. Archbishop Gabriel has accepted his request, which took effect from 12 October 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 48°52′40″N 2°18′06″E / 48.87778°N 2.30167°E / 48.87778; 2.30167

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