St. Denys Theological Institute (Paris, France)

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Seal of the St. Denys Institute

The St. Denys Orthodox Theological Institute of Paris was founded in 1944 by members of the Cathedral of St. Irenaeus in Paris (of the Orthodox Church of France) and a number of French intellectuals who were not themselves Orthodox (the French Catholic philosopher Gabriel Marcel, for example, was the first registrar), and placed under the patronage of Saint Denys the Areopagite. The Institute was founded with the assistance of the Brotherhood of St. Photius and with the blessing of Patriarch Sergius of Moscow. One purpose of the Institute was to provide theological education in the French language, as all classes at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris were, at the time, taught only in Russian. Vladimir Lossky served as dean from the founding of the Institute until 1953. During the academic year 1945-1946, two members of the St. Sergius faculty, Alexander Schmemann and Constantine Andronikoff, taught at St. Denys but the political climate of the Russian Church in Paris at the time caused them to withdraw the next year.

Although steeped in the Russian tradition from which it sprang, the Institute was oriented toward the West. It has remained close to the French academic world, drawing a number of its faculty from the University of Paris, including the Sorbonne.

The first graduate of the Institute to be ordained to the priesthood later became Archbishop Peter of New York, in the Orthodox Church in America.

Today the Institute functions under the auspices of the Orthodox Church of France, which is functions independently from the recognized Orthodox Churches.

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