Brotherhood of St. Photius

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The Brotherhood of St. Photius was an association of emigre Orthodox theologians, intellectuals, and artists in Paris, France during the decades following the Bolshevik takeover, in 1917, of the government of Russia. Founded in 1925, the group usually met informally, meeting weekly in the homes of the various members.

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The membership of the Brotherhood included many of the members of the Russian intelligentsia in France and included such people as: the theologian Vladimir Nikolaevich Lossky, the canonist Evgraf Kovalevsky, the liturgist Vsevolod Palashkovsky, the choir director Maxim Kovalevsky, Nikolai Alekseevich Poltoratsky, and the iconographers George Ivanovich Krug and Leonid Alexandrovich Ouspensky.

At that time the Brotherhood of St. Photius played an important role in the life of the emigre Russian Orthodox Church in France. Also, the overall work of the Brotherhood was enriched by contacts with the Moscow Patriarchate that led to the formation of Patriarchal parishes. These contacts led to the formation of the Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate when a schism in 1931 divided the Russian communities in Western Europe.

Members of the Brotherhood also played a leading role in clarifying the issue and defending the Church’s doctrinal integrity, when the Russian community became divided over the question of sophiology and the heresy sophianism, through the recovery of the Patristic spirit of the Church, and the re-assertion of the traditional place of the Eucharist and the Liturgy in the life of the community.

The work and witness of members of the Brotherhood led to an interest by French people in Orthodox Christianity. In 1936, the first large group of French people were received into the Orthodox Church. With the German occupation of Paris in 1940, the Brotherhood, which had been informally organizing theological conferences with different confessions, organized, in 1944, a French language theological institute, L’Institut Saint Denis, with Vladimir Lossky as dean.