The Theological and Spiritual Foundations of the Return to the Icon.


by Emilie van Taack

St John Chrysostome

        When in 1930, followed by an immense majority of the faithful, Metropolitan Evlogius decided to leave the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, there were however six people who refused this decision, one lady and five members of the Saint-Photius Brotherhood. These six people informed Metropolitan Sergius, who was at that time locum tenens of the patriarchal throne of the Russian Church, and the latter commended them to Metropolitan Elevtherius of Vilno. Little by little they were joined by priests and even a bishop, Mgr. Benjamin Fedtchenkov, a parish was created over time and a church was consecrated at Easter 1931. The Parish of the Three Holy Hierarchs - saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, "the three greatest enlighteners of the Church" - was born, through canonical and theological fervour, through the "love of Truth" (2 Thessalonians 2, 10) of the Members of the Saint-Photius Brotherhood.

        Thanks to this parish, an Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate could be maintained in Western Europe and, to a large extent, contribute to the return of Westerners into the Church. Indeed, unity with the Mother Church, that is to say, the respect of spiritual succession and that of the" unity of obedience", as Vladimir Lossky (1) puts it, the sole expression of "actual and living unity of the Body of Christ", enabled genuine local Orthodoxy, whose first expression consisted in creating purely traditional and wholly original icons, to develop and "attain the height of the age of plenitude of Christ" (Ephésiens 4, 13) in Western Europe.

Saint-Photius Brotherhood...

1)Vladimir Lossky, in " Lettre ouverte à l'Assemblée des représentants des églises russes en Europe Occidentale ", in Russie et Chrétienté, n°2, 1947, p54 ; taken up in La Vie spirituelle, Nov-Dec 1987, tome 141, n° 677, p.621-630.
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