Celebrating Pentecost-Trinity

Dear brothers and sisters,

We look forward to Troitsa (Pentecost-Trinity) this coming Sunday, when we will celebrate vespers with the kneeling prayers for the invocation of the Holy Spirit immediately after the Liturgy.

The variables for our Liturgy and vespers may be found at ‘Orthodox Austin’:

Liturgy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ITtGsdldvgBNyMWGVBOnOXi_a-oHnTHx/view

Vespers: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1De9n6phaj1slz21YGmbt6yqqZZLSiTDh/view

This, of course, means that our services will be longer than usual – and everyone will no doubt be hungry, as well as achy-kneed at the end of our prayers. So, I encourage parishioners to think ahead with regard to our bring-and-share-lunch.  Those who have already read ‘version one’ of this post will have seen a prompt to bring something on which to kneel. It then dawned on me that the church is overflowing with emroidered kneelers!

Confessions will be heard on Friday, in St Mary Butetown, as announced.

Given ongoing travel complications it is my hope to hear confessions during the afternoon – not the evening. As usual, please email me at otetzmark@hotmail.com

Given the length of Sundays services, it is imperative that Sunday confessions are succinct and that those confessing have prepared, so that the Hours may begin at 11:00.

There will be no possibility of additional confessions after Liturgy, as vespers follows. Would those confessing on Sunday who have not yet made requests please inform me? A thankyou to those who have pre-arranged.

On Monday 13 June, the Day of the Holy Spirit, the Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated in Llanelli, commencing at 10:00.

The variables may be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rs-PA3pviRh4Rtr1nk34UCvC2VQ-pEIe/view

We look forward to celebrating this great feast together.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Many Years, Peter!

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the wake of Melangell’s baptism on Saturday, we congratulate our parishioner and trustee Peter on the eighth anniversary of his baptism.

He has become a pillar of our parish, a constant support for the clergy, and the smiling and friendly figure who is often the first to welcome newcomers to Liturgy and chat with them after the service.

When he is away, even for a weekend, things aren’t quite the same, and his practicality, advice and counsel are a great blessing to the parish.

May God grant him many, blessed years, as we thank the Lord for all that Peter brings to our community.

Многая и Благая лѣта!

Greetings for the Ascension of the Lord

“Lift up your gates, O you princes and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall enter in.”

Dear brothers and sisters – Greetings on this joyful feast of the Ascension, as we celebrate the Saviour ascending with our humanity into the Kingdom of God, where He is for ever human as well as divine, knowing the joys and sorrows, the challenges and trials of our lives, because He lived such a life.

In this knowledge, we pray to Him as One who joined Himself to us in the mystery of His Incarnation.

We pray to Him as One who started life as a refugee in the flight to Egypt; as One who wandered and had nowhere to call His own; as One who lived in simplicity and non-acquisitiveness; as One who hungered and thirsted; as One who wept and felt sorrow; as One who experienced torture and pain; as One who understood betrayal and condemnation; as One who endured and embraced human-nature and human life for the sake of humanity – to redeem it, perfect it, and raise it in glory.

We take comfort that in His self-abasement the ascended Lord deigned to live among us, sharing human life with us and showing us the promise of future life in the age to come, as He takes the ‘robe of Adam’ to be glorified in the Heavenly Kingdom: a promise and calling for each of us who have been baptised into His death and glorious resurrection.

Do you see then to what height of glory human nature has been raised? Is it not from earth to heaven? Is it not from corruption to incorruption? How hard would not someone toil in order to become the intimate friend of a corruptible king here below? But we, although we were alienated and hostile in our intent by evil deeds, have not only been reconciled to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have also soared aloft to sonship, and now our nature is worshipped in the heavens by every creature seen and unseen.

St Ephrem the Syrian

Wishing you all a happy and joyful feast.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The week ahead…

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη! 

Sunday was a particularly joyful Liturgy as we welcomed the latest arrivals from Ukraine, welcomed the newly-enlightened Georgije, belatedly greeted Deacon Mark and Yuriy for their name-days and celebrated matushka Alla’s birthday. 

Attendance was very good and trapeza a place of lively socialising and fellowship, and warm and friendly conversations: a great blessing. 

We will celebrate the spring feast of St Nicholas this coming Sunday, with the Hours at and Liturgy at 11:00, commemorating the translation of his relics from Myra to Bari. 

Having resumed catechesis at St Mary’s Church, North Church Street, Butetown, last week, we will meet in the parish room at the usual time of 19:00 this coming Friday continuing with reflections on the Holy Spirit. 

I will hear confessions before the study group and would appreciate those wishing to confess to email by Wednesday night – otetzmark@hotmail.com – thanking those who have already contacted me.  

As usual, I will be able to hear confessions for parishioners communing on Sunday, but after a long time confessing before last Sunday’s Liturgy, we must move some confessions/communions to after the Liturgy. Time is so short before the Liturgy that we must be careful with the time. Canonically the Liturgy must begin before noon, and people are already fasting for a long time after long journeys for some communicants. 

Having recently baptised George, we look forward to Menna’s baptism on Saturday 4 June, when she will baptised with the name Melangell – just in time for her name-day. We look forward to further baptisms in the near future, and will shortly be making another student a catechumen.

Finally – tomorrow is the feast of mid-Pentecost, and the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:00 in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, at 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 8LS.

The chapel is in the rear garden, and access is through the house and conservatory.

May God bless you all. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Prayers to the Holy Great-Martyr George

Having celebrated the feast of St George on Friday, we served a moleben to the Great-Martyr after Sunday’s Liturgy.

I thought I would share a photograph from my cell icon-corner, where prayers are offered to St George for our parishioners, benefactors and friends.

Holy & Glorious Great-Martyr, Wonder-Worker & Trophy-Bearer George, Troparion, Tone IV: With faith thou didst fight the good fight, O athlete of Christ, didst denounce the ungodli­ness of the tyrants and didst offer thyself to God as a right acceptable sacrifice. Wherefore, thou hast received a crown of victory, O holy one, and by thy supplications dost bestow the forgive­ness of transgressions upon all.

Troparion in Tone IV: As a liberator of captives, a helper of the poor, and a physician of the infirm, O champion of kings, victorious great martyr George, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

Holy, glorious and praiseworthy St. George!  We who venerate thy holy icon, beseech thee, as a known intercessor for our longings: pray with us to God, Whose loving kindness we implore, mercifully to hear us entreating His goodness, and not to abandon our requests which are needful unto salvation and life; that He might grant victories over adversaries; and furthermore we pray thee abjectly, thou holy Trophy-Bearer, to strengthen the Orthodox Christians in their battles, by the grace given thee; crush the power of insurgent foes, that they may be disgraced and brought to shame, and their presumption shattered; may they know that we have Divine help, and thy mighty defence made known unto all in sorrow and trouble. Entreat the Lord God and Maker of all creation to deliver us from eternal torment, that we may always glorify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Week Ahead in Cardiff and Cheltenham

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

It was a great blessing for us to welcome those newly arrived from Ukraine at Sunday’s Liturgy, and we are grateful to those who provided transport and made everyone welcome.

It was something of a novelty to serve Liturgy in Cardiff without a deacon, for once, but it was good to be reminded of how much our deacons do – particularly in St John’s, with all of the setting up and putting away. I am extremely grateful to our oltarniky and others who made this work so smoothly.

After our moleben to the Holy Great Martyrs and Trophy Bearer George, we were able to greet our parishioner George and sing Mnogaya Leta for him and Alexandra, who celebrated their name days on Friday, and we look forward to doing the same for Deacon Mark and Yuriy who were away at the weekend.

This work sees the resumption of our catechesis at St Mary’s Church, North Church Street, Butetown, where we will meet in the parish room at the usual time of 19:00.

I will hear confessions before this, from 17:00 – hoping to start with those who are not staying for the study group. I hope that we will be able to limit confessions to Friday, as Deacon Mark and I will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Cheltenham on Saturday.

Will those wishing to confess on Friday email me by Wednesday night, please: otetzmark@hotmail.com

On Saturday, the Fest of the Unexpected-Joy Icon of the Mother of God and of St Paphnuty of Borovsk, our Cheltenham Liturgy will be celebrated in Prestbury United Reformed Church, with confessions from 09:15, the Hours at 10:00 and Liturgy at 10:30. There will be a bring-and-share -lunch after the service, and all contributions to the table will be welcome.

I will be available after the service to hear confessions for any Cardiff parishioners attending and wishing to commune on Sunday.

In Cardiff we will celebrate as usual on Sunday, with the Hours at and Liturgy at 11:00, followed by refreshments and a bring-and-share -lunch.

Please ensure that visitors and new parishioners are cared for and looked after at this time. The clergy are usually not free for a while after Liturgy, so it’s important that everyone welcomes those whom we may have not met before. Being new and unknown can be rather daunting, and a friendly word and encouragement to stay for a cup of tea, a bite to eat and a chat can make a massive difference. Let’s also make sure that people can get to the food, when it’s on the table.

Keep celebrating Pascha, and keep hold of the joy of the season.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Belated Name Day Greetings

Dear brothers and sisters, 

I thought I would have plenty of time to catch up with communications on my return from church yesterday, but it was one of those Welsh rail journeys that was a total catalogue of disasters, cancellations and brake downs, and I only reached home at a rather late hour. 

So… belated name day greetings and best wishes for our Deacon Mark in Cardiff, named for the Holy Apostle and Evangelist, and for our Deacon Mark, in Mettingham. 

We wish you both, ‘Many Years’ and thank you for all that you do for our communities and diocese. 

Многая и Благая лѣта!

Akathist Hymn to Saint George

Kontakion 1: Unto thee, O champion leader and victorious Saint George, we offer a hymn of praise as unto our intercessor and speedy helper. Do thou, holy Great Martyr, as one who hath boldness before the Lord, deliver us from dangers of all kinds that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Ikos 1: The Creator of angels and Maker of all creation hath revealed thee unto His Church as a guardian and passion-bearer for the faith. Thou art an inspiration for us, and we lift up praises unto thee for the ascetic labours of thy sufferings, Saint George, in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst love unto the end Jesus, the Son of God.

Rejoice, thou who didst lay down thy life with love for His Name.

Rejoice, confessor called forth by God.

Rejoice, spiritual athlete glorified by the grace of God.

Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the angels.

Rejoice, thou who art the equal of the prophets.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 2: Beholding how the wicked idolaters were persecuting the Christians, thou didst not fear their wiles and tortures, divinely wise George. As a good soldier of Christ, thou didst distribute all thy possessions among the poor, and then didst voluntarily run to that ungodly gathering, singing unto Christ, thy commander and God: Alleluia.

Ikos 2: Mentally comprehending the One God divinely worshipped in Three Persons, with a firm mind thou didst confess Him before the assembly of the ungodly. Thus, thou didst expose the unwise king’s foolish worship of creation. In admiration of thy lofty love of wisdom, Saint George, accept from us these fervent praises:

Rejoice, wise preacher of the One True God.

Rejoice, faithful advocate of the All-Holy Trinity.

Rejoice, thou who didst manifest the great mystery of the True Faith unto the unbelievers.

Rejoice, thou who didst expose the deception of idol worship.

Rejoice, revelation of holy wisdom.

Rejoice, image of divine inspiration.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 3: The power of God, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, did visit thee also, whilst thou wast suffering in prison, O George wise in humility. Thou didst despise all the corruptible things of this life as chaff. Thou didst faithfully cling unto Christ alone, that after fighting the good fight for His Name, thou mightest be granted eternally to chant with the angels: Alleluia.

Ikos 3: Possessing a mind and heart enlightened by the Holy Ghost, by His inspiration thou wast fervent to struggle for the Name of Christ, even unto blood. Standing courageously in the faith, thou didst expose the puffed-up pride of the ungodly congregation. Let us, then, come to thee, most wonderful George, singing praises unto thee:

Rejoice, shield lifted for preservation of piety.

Rejoice, sword raised for the beheading of evil.

Rejoice, confirmation of the Christian Church.

Rejoice, comfort of those gathered in prayer.

Rejoice, encouragement of the faithful.

Rejoice, fear and disgrace of the unbelievers.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 4: The mad persecutor, breathing murder against thee, O passion-bearer George, longed for thy blood like a thirsty dog, ordering thy body stretched out on a wheel and giving thee over unto the most evil torments. Wherefore thou, taking strength in the Lord, with hope and trust in God didst cry aloud: Alleluia.

Ikos 4: When Diocletian and the priest of the idols heard words of wisdom from thee, they were enraged with hatred for thee, and even more so when thou didst say: O tormentor king, why dost thou torture me in vain? For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The faithful therefore humbly cry unto thee, O George of great fame, in this way:

Rejoice, thou who didst shed thy blood upon the wheel for thy courageous confession of the Faith.

Rejoice, thou who didst magnify the triumph of the Faith by thy blood.

Rejoice, zealot together with the apostles.

Rejoice, imitator of the voluntary Passion of Christ.

Rejoice, unshakable champion of the Faith.

Rejoice, passion-bearer harder than adamant.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 5: Thou wast as a star sent by God, O Saint George, for with thy miraculous healing and release from the wheel by an angel before the eyes of all, thou didst enlighten the unbelievers to believe in the Trinity in One Essence, and to sing unto Him together with thee: Alleluia.

Ikos 5: The people beheld the miracles of the power of God so clearly taking place in thee, and meekly accepted the teaching of Christ from thee. They cried aloud, saying: Truly great is the God of the Christians. It is fitting that we also sing praises unto thee, George worthy of glory, and so we cry out thus:

Rejoice, thou who didst disperse the darkness of unbelief by the radiant word of salvation.

Rejoice, thou who didst convert unbelievers unto Christ by thy martyr’s confession of faith.

Rejoice, thou who didst lead legions of earthly soldiers unto the heavenly army.

Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the heavenly hosts as a soldier of Christ.

Rejoice, glory of courageous soldiers.

Rejoice, beauty of the all-radiant choirs of martyrs.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 6: Zealous in faith, like unto those Spirit-bearing preachers, the apostles, thou wast crucified unto the world, O Martyr George. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster, thou wast hurled headlong into the furnace of the lime pit – that through thy life might be manifested the glory of the Lord Who is wondrous in His saints. Henceforth in the lime pit as in a temple of glory, thou didst noetically cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 6: Having shone forth in His Resurrection from the tomb on the third day, Jesus, the Almighty Conqueror of hades and death, did save thee from corruption, O victorious George. After three days thou wast found alive in the lime pit, with thy hands lifted and singing unto God. The ungodly were sore afraid and stricken with terror, but we rejoice and compose a hymn of victory unto thee:

Rejoice, thou who didst cast down the puffed-up pride of the devil by thy being cast down in disgrace into the lime pit.

Rejoice, thou who didst overcome the persecutor’s bestiality by thy miraculous salvation from God.

Rejoice, for as one without guile, thou didst pray as for benefactors for those who worked evil against thee.

Rejoice, for thou wast zealous for their conversion as Paul was for the Jews.

Rejoice, man of spiritual desires.

Rejoice, victor through the power of Christ.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 7: Desiring by any means to ensnare thy heart for service to the idols, the wicked persecutor contrived to mislead thee by magical spells. Therein thou, chosen of God, didst cry out with David: In God is my salvation and my glory, and didst faithfully chant unto Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 7: That evil servant of Satan, Diocletian , revealed a new villainy. In his insane zeal for the idols, he ordered thee to be given poison, Saint George, but thou wast filled with faith and hope. Even though thou didst drink the deadly poison, yet thou didst remain unharmed, O praised-one of God. We marvel at thy holiness and sing unto thee:

Rejoice, for thou wast not disgraced by thy hope in the living God.

Rejoice, for thou didst count thy torment as nothing.

Rejoice, expeller of soul-destroying demons.

Rejoice, destroyer of the wiles of magicians.

Rejoice, through thee God is shewn to be wondrous in His saints.

Rejoice, through thee the Name of Christ is piously glorified.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 8: There came to the wicked king a strange and terrible counsel from a certain wizard: that he command thee, as proof of the truth of the Christian Faith, by thy word to resurrect a dead man. Thou, Saint George, having no doubt whatsoever, didst sing unto Him Who is not the God of the dead but the God of the living: Alleluia.

Ikos 8: The all-desirable and Sweetest Jesus, Whom thou lovest with all thy soul and heart, most blessed George, attended to the fervent prayer of thy faith and speedily commanded the resurrection of the dead man at thy word. This was to the glorification of His Name and the confirmation of the faithful, so that the unbelievers and the blind might be astounded and thereby gain knowledge of God. For this reason, we dutifully cry unto thee:

Rejoice, through thee the Lord of hosts manifested wonders.

Rejoice, through thee He resurrected a dead man from the tomb.

Rejoice, thou who didst grant the mental vision of faith unto the blinded wizard.

Rejoice, thou who didst shew the way to the Holy of Holies unto many who suffered for Christ.

Rejoice, astonishment of Rome.

Rejoice, exaltation of the Christian race.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 9: All the angels rendered praise unto God, Who granted thee such courage, victorious George, that even when locked up in prison thou didst not cease to keep vigil in prayer. As a great communicant of the mystery of divine grace, thou wast vouchsafed to behold the Lord in a vision. He crowned thy head with the crown of incorruption, so that we might cry out with thee: Alleluia.

Ikos 9: The learned orators are unable with their rhetorical tongues to render worthy praises unto thee, Martyr George, for thy labours and sufferings which thou didst assume voluntarily for Christ and the Church. We also, not knowing how to properly praise thee, chant this hymn with faith:

Rejoice, by thy voluntary suffering for Christ and the Church thou didst crucify the old Adam in thyself.

Rejoice, by thy courageous suffering thou didst receive a crown of righteousness from the Lord.

Rejoice, rule of pious zeal.

Rejoice, model of self-sacrifice.

Rejoice, for thou didst please not thyself, but Christ alone.

Rejoice, for thou wast prepared for any form of death for the sake of thy Saviour, Christ.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 10: Desiring to save the souls perishing in idolatry, O Saint George, lover of God, thou wast zealous for God like Elijah. Entering into the temple of the idols, by the power of God thou didst drive out the demons, shattering the idols and putting the priests to shame. Thereafter as conqueror, not with men but with angels, thou didst chant unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 10: More unfeeling than a wall, thy hard-hearted tormentor, O Great Martyr, did not see God, Who so clearly worked miracles through thee, but to the end remained as an asp, stopping his ears. He commanded thee to be executed as a criminal by beheading. Though grieving over the loss of his soul, thou didst joyfully accept thine end, for which we praise thee with love in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst keep faith, hope and love unto the end.

Rejoice, thou who didst work many great miracles at thy beheading.

Rejoice, thou who wast crowned to the glory of God’s goodwill toward those on earth.

Rejoice, thou who wast adorned with majesty in Heaven.

Rejoice, man of God.

Rejoice, good soldier of Christ.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 11: Thou didst render a hymn unto the Most Holy Trinity exceeding others, holy Saint George, not in word and mind only, but by the living sacrifice of thy whole self. Imitating Him Who was crucified for us, Christ the Lamb without blemish, thou didst voluntarily lay down thy life for thy friends. Even though we are incapable of praising such courage as thine, for no man hath greater love than this, yet being grateful we sing unto Him Who is wondrous in the saints: Alleluia.

Ikos 11: A light-receiving lamp of the True Light art thou to those on earth, Saint George, chosen of God, for thou dost enlighten the hearts of the faithful and dost guide them all unto divine understanding, instructing us also to joyfully cry aloud:

Rejoice, for thou dost dwell in the all-radiant angelic mansions.

Rejoice, for thou dost commune of the never-waning light of the Trinity not in a mirror, but face to face.

Rejoice, provider for the needy and defender of the wronged.

Rejoice, healer of the infirm and support of kings.

Rejoice, champion of Orthodox soldiers in battle.

Rejoice, fervent intercessor for the salvation of sinners.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 12: Knowing the grace granted by God, we celebrate thy memory, Great Martyr George. Running with fervent prayer to thy miraculous icon, we are protected by thine all-powerful help in the Lord as by an invincible wall. In praise of thine aid to others, we fervently cry unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 12: Hymning thy glorious end, by which thou wast magnified as a good soldier of Christ, we pray thee, O passion-bearer and helper in all good for us: Protect us as we earnestly cry unto thee:

Rejoice, by thee the Church of the faithful is enlightened.

Rejoice, for thy name is praised even among the infidels.

Rejoice, wondrous glory of the confessors.

Rejoice, lofty praise of the martyrs.

Rejoice, protector of those who honour thy memory.

Rejoice, deliverer of those who confess Christ God.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 13: Most blessed and holy Great Martyr George, accept our hymn of praise and deliver us from every evil by thy fervent intercession unto God, so that we may sing with thee: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. (Thrice)

Ikos 1: The Creator of angels and Maker of all creation hath revealed thee unto His Church as a guardian and passion-bearer for the faith. Thou art an inspiration for us, and we lift up praises unto thee for the ascetic labours of thy sufferings, Saint George, in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst love unto the end Jesus, the Son of God.

Rejoice, thou who didst lay down thy life with love for His Name.

Rejoice, confessor called forth by God.

Rejoice, spiritual athlete glorified by the grace of God.

Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the angels.

Rejoice, thou who art the equal of the prophets.

Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 1: Unto thee, O champion leader and victorious Saint George, we offer a hymn of praise as unto our intercessor and speedy helper. Do thou, holy Great Martyr, as one who hath boldness before the Lord, deliver us from dangers of all kinds that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, Saint George, Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

A Prayer

Great Martyr George, we hasten to thee for triumph over every torment and distress and over all pride and passion, that we may glorify Jesus Christ as zealous conquerors of this world and heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom. We acknowledge our unworthiness of such holy victory but, in praise of the courage, hope and trust which thou hast demonstrated throughout thy life and into thy martyrdom, we lovingly beseech thine aid in battle against sin. Pray for us, Saint George, that we may be granted the grace to confess the Faith before others and to fulfil the Commandments under all circumstances and among all people. Let us witness of Christ the Lord that everyone might see His radiant light and believe in His holy teachings. Amen

The Holy Great Martyrs George and Alexandra

Dear brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Great Martyrs George and Alexandra, we greet quite a number of Georges, including 

  • Our newly-enlightened Cardiff parishioner, George. 
  • The newly enlightened Georgije (Joshua), baptised in London on Holy Saturday, whom we look forward to seeing soon. 
  • The ever-energetic little Yuriy. 
  • Yuriy’s dedushka, Yuriy Senior in Crimea. 
  • Our Cheltenham parishioner, George. 
  • Our dear friend and brother, Reader George. 
  • George Tattum-Smith, no doubt grown so much that we wouldn’t recognise him. 
  • Yuriy, our former parishioner, now living in London. 
  • George the iconographer, though he’s already had a celebration on the new-calendar. 

… and our singular and very dear Alexandra, who will be moving to London, on Saturday. 

May God bless you and grant you all many years! Многая лѢта! La mulți ani!

A Paschal Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

I have been very fortunate to make a pilgrimage to Walsingham for a few days, celebrating the altar-feast of the Orthodox chapel of the Life-Giving Spring.

The Mother of God appeared to Richeldis (Rychold), Lady of the Manor of Walsingham in the 11th century, commanding her to build a replica of the original Holy House of Nazareth, later dismantled and rebuilt in Loreto, in Italy, after the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land.

The great shrine and priory, which developed around the chapel of the Holy House was endowed through royal patronage and was renowned throughout Europe, but despite its sanctity and fame it fell victim to the ravages of the reformation and the destruction of the holy places by King Henry VIII and his henchmen.

The 19th century saw the restoration of Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Walsingham, based in the Slipper Chapel, and the 20th century saw the restoration of Anglican religious life around a newly built Holy House and shrine complex.

The founder of the restored Anglican shrine, Father Alfred Hope Paten, was encouraged to engage with the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile by Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, vicar of St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, who had travelled in Russia before the revolution, visiting holy places and holding theological discussions with some of the leading churchmen of the time. Despite his advanced Papalist Anglo-Catholicism, he was a great admirer of Orthodoxy and a friend and supporter of the exiled faithful, including the first hierarch of the Church in Exile, Metropolitan Antoniy of Kiev and Galych.

The Orthodox presence in the shrine has been developed over the years by a series of remarkable Orthodox figures, including Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbes (former tutor to the Tsarevich Alexei), Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka, Archbishop Sava of Grodno, St Nikolai Velimirovich, Archbishop Nikodem, and the pioneer of iconography of British saints, Archimandrite David.

Our diocese and its clergy have been involved in spiritual life here since the earliest years of the Anglican shrine, when emigré Russians made pilgrimages to this corner of Norfolk to honour the Mother of God.

The intended free-standing Russian Orthodox chapel was never built, but the little chapel in use since 1941 and consecrated by Archbishop Sava on the Sunday of Pentecost in 1944, remains a place of Orthodox prayer and worship, occupying a landing on above the south aisle of the Anglican shrine church.

Now that Father Philip Steer is unable to serve in the chapel of the Life-Giving Spring, the Orthodox presence is maintained by Mother Melangell, who has a house-skete in the village. There is a Russian-tradition parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople a short distance away, based in the Church of the Transfiguration in Great Walsingham, and the former monastic-brotherhood church of St Seraphim survives, though sadly bereft of services for most of the year.

We are greatly blessed that Orthodox prayer is offered in Walsingham EVERY day, even if the Liturgy is not celebrated in the shrine very often.

It is a joy to celebrate and pray in the shrine, especially in the evenings, when the church is quiet. The Holy House, dedicated to the Annunciation and built to replace that destroyed by the reformers of the 16th century is a special place to pray the akathist hymn to the Mother of God.

There were many intentions for which to pray during the short pilgrimage, and the culmination of this prayer was our Liturgy for the feast of the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring, a short distance from her holy well within the shrine-church.

It was a privilege to be with our local friends, including parishioners from Walsingham, Cambridge and Norwich, to meet local supporters of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow, and to share a Paschal lunch in the orangery after the Liturgy – welcoming two Ukrainian pilgrims who visited that day, not knowing that there would be an Orthodox presence.

We very much look forward to returning in the summer and autumn, knowing that the Mother of God continues to pour out her grace on this shrine and the many pilgrims who honour her in England’s Nazareth.