Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe
The Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe is an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriatchate of Russian Orthodox tradition, based in Paris, and having parishes throughout Europe, mainly centered in France. Its current leader is Archbishop Gabriel (de Vylder) of Komana.
|Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe|
|Current bishop||Abp. Gabriel|
|Liturgical language(s)||Church Slavonic, local languages|
|Musical tradition||Russian Chant, Byzantine Chant|
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 Metr. 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, Metr. Sergius (Stragorodsky), then locum tenens of the Patriarchate of Moscow, demanded declarations of loyalty to the Soviet regime, a proposition which Evlogy initially supported by 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, becoming an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1965, the jurisdiction was downgraded to a vicariate, but returned to the rank of exarchate in 1999.
Since its reception by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1931, the Exarchate has grown to roughly 60 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, 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 Alexander Schmemann, Georges Florovsky, and Vladimir Lossky.
- Alexander (Semenoff-Tian-Chansky) of Zila, auxiliary bishop.
- Serge (Konovaloff) of Evkarpia, auxiliary bishop.
- Official site (in French)
- Eastern Christian Churches: The Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, by Ronald Roberson, Roman Catholic priest and scholar
- Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe (from the Diocese of Sourozh)
- Monastère Orthodoxe Notre Dame de Toute Protection (in French)
- Danish Orthodox Church (in Danish)