Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Leads the Consecration of the Lower
Chapel of Dormition Cathedral
The London parish is one of our oldest in Western Europe. It dates
back to the end of the 17th century, when Peter the Great visited
England in January 1698 and lived in Deptford, on the Thames, for
four months, learning the art of shipbuilding at the King's docks.
The church established then was called the "Greek-Russian Church."
The location of the first church is impossible to ascertain because
of the construction of the growing city. The church was attached
to the Russian Embassy and most of the church items were provided
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From 1919 through the 1920's, the church was located at 31 Welbeek
Street under a long-term lease. The Russian colony was small then,
and the house chapel suited their needs. But during World War I,
in connection with the establishment in England of various Russian
offices relating to providing military equipment for the Russian
Army, the Russian colony in England began to grow. By the end of
the war and the onset of the Revolution, a stream of refugees from
all over Russia began arriving. The defeat of the White Army, beginning
with the Northern Front, caused this stream to become significant.
The house church under these circumstances could not accommodate
the masses of worshipers. The lease for that space was coming to
an end, and the house was destined for demolishing. The Church of
England came to the rescue and provided the parish temporary use
of a large, historic church. But the location of the church, in
the business district of London, limited its attendance by Russian
people. Services, however, continued. The use of this church continued
until the Church of England provided another church built by the
Duke of Westminster on his own property and given to the people
of England. The church was very large, in the center of the city
and could easily be adapted to Orthodox needs. It was consecrated
to Holy Apostle Philip, and, preserving its name, also became known
as Holy Dormition Church, as had all earlier Russian churches in
In 1927, ecclesiastical unity of the Russian colony in London was
rent asunder as a result of Metropolitan Eulogius' departure from
the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia. As a result of disputes for and against this division, the
London parish almost split in half. An agreement was reached on
the further use of the church: services were performed by the groups
on alternating weeks.
In 1928, 38-year-old Archimandrite Nicholas (Karpov) was assigned
to London. The 5th tome of The Life of Metropolitan Anthony, by
Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky, +1976), contains the following account:
"Archimandrite Nicholas at this time was 38 years old; he graduated
Moscow Theological Academy in 1915 and was a teacher in theological
schools in Russia and a sermonizer in a monastery in Oboyan, in
the Kursk Diocese. In Serbia he served in Serbian parishes, and
then taught at Bitol Theological Seminary, where he enjoyed the
adoration of the entire staff and student body. He was appointed
rector of the London parish, which was being torn apart by church
strife. Archimandrite Nicholas managed this difficult task and with
his piety won over the sympathies of the parishioners, and reintroduced
peace in parish life."
Fr Nicholas' character was ebullient, energetic and gregarious,
he always served with genuine prayerfulness and piety. It is remarkable
that, despite his liveliness, upon entering the church, he seemed
to undergo a transformation. His reading of the Gospel was moving.
Unforgettable were his performance of the Paschal service and reading
of the Gospel in four languages: Slavonic, Greek, Latin and ancient
Hebrew. The midnight Paschal service drew many people, not only
Orthodox Christians but the heterodox and even a few Jews who did
not wish to miss it and the joyful mood it created. Many Englishmen
asked to have the date and time of the Paschal service published
in the press in advance. Most of the parishioners remained until
the end of Divine Liturgy, when many would partake of the Holy Mysteries.
Chartered buses then took the worshipers to various points in the
city of London.
Archimandrite Nicholas," continues the book on Metropolitan
Anthony, "fell the honor of being the first Orthodox bishop
of London. Taking into consideration the political importance of
London, the ecclesiastical troubles among the people of England
and the tendency within the Church of England towards drawing nearer
to Orthodoxy, this Russian Orthodox bishop's cathedra was especially
On the Sunday of All Saints, June 30, 1929, Archimandrite Nicholas
was consecrated as the first bishop of London since the division
of the Churches in 1054. Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory
came from distant Serbia for the consecration, as did Archbishop
Seraphim of Western Europe and Archbishop Feofan of Kursk and Oboyan,
Bishop Tikhon of Berlin and Germany, Hieromonk Feodosii, the cell-attendant
of the First Hierarch; Mitred Protopriest Vasily Vinogradov from
Brussels, Protopriest V. Timofeev of Paris and Hierodeacon Ioannikii
Vladyka Feofan brought with him the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother
of God. The solemn service of the gathered bishops before the miracle-working
icon, and the rare eventóthe consecration of a bishopódrew a great
number of Orthodox faithful, clergymen from the Church of England
and others. The large cathedral was filled to capacity. Reading
on the kliros was a psalm-reader from Tsarist Russia, Foka Feodorovich
Volkovsky. Present in the church was Grand Duchess Ksenia Aleksandrovna,
sister of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.
Upon the entrusting to Bishop Nicholas of the episcopal staff, Vladyka
Anthony said: "The instructions are given to you from above
on this day of your consecration that you must be in this life not
only an Orthodox servant of God, but a servant of Russia, sharing
the highest sympathies with our Russian people, her pious love for
the saints, something the Protestants do not understand, saying
that Russians, by venerating saints, diminish thereby the glory
of Christ. For Christ Himself gave this firm foundation for this,
saying, 'And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them' (John
17:22). Yet being a Christian and a Russian patriot, you are of
course far from that sinful chauvinism being committed by all the
nations now calling themselves Christian, even, alas, Orthodox peoples.
We can boldly state that only the Russian people, in their finest
individuals, can accommodate universal love with patriotism and
looks upon these two lofty concepts as not being mutually exclusive,
but mutually infused in each other.
Lord sent you the fate to begin your archpastoral service in the
country of a people who have many educated sons among them who possess
heartfelt love for our people and our faith. I have become convinced
of the latter having spent several days in the newly-established
Anglican Abbey 'Our House.' There I was consoled to see the profound
and fervent piety of young monks and became persuaded that for them,
prayer is not simply an assumed ceremony, but a burning cry of the
soul, heatedly striving towards God and towards spiritual cleansing.
We are also convinced of this by the establishment in recent years
of Anglican monasteries while in other countries, even in Orthodox
ones, monasteries and monasticism are quickly diminishing. And so,
you must show special pastoral attention to those souls, especially
the young souls in the Anglican Church who might wish to become
closer acquainted with the Orthodox faith and the Orthodox Church.
Fit them into your archpastoral heart and pray to God for the salvation,
and for that of your own Russian people, and for those English people
who are approaching the Orthodox Church, so that you can say that
to the degree God granted, you were "all things to all men.
this holy deed may the holy saints of God strengthen you, those
who are glorified in the entire universe, and piously venerated
by you, as a true Russian person and a truly believing Orthodox
pastor, the new saint, John of Tobolsk, in whose canonization you
were fortunate to participate." (Life of Metropolitan Anthony).
In 1958, after many travails and difficulties, hope arrived that
an entirely usable church would become available for rent. This
was a church once belonging to Scottish Presbyterians, closed for
services and adapted for use as a furniture warehouse. Its owner,
an Anglican parish, rented the church to a commercial firm. Through
the joint effort of the parishioners, work was done to bring the
church into what proved magnificent shape. At the beginning of 1959,
the solemn consecration of the Church of St John (Maximovich) took
place, conducted by Bishop Nikodim of Richmond, his vicar and the
rector of the London parish, along with representatives of all the
Orthodox Churches in England.
Having purchased a house with a large yard in Western London at
the end of the 1990's, the parish began to build a splendid cathedral
dedicated to the Holy Dormition of the Mother of God and the Holy
Passion-bearers Tsar-Martyr Nicholas and His August Family, to whom
the lower chapel was dedicated and consecrated this May 29. In February
of this year, the parish council and building committee decided
to begin work on the upper church immediately after the consecration
of the lower sanctuary.
On May 27, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus arrived in London. Greeted
by the Rector of Holy Dormition Cathedral, Priest Vadim Zakrevsky
and the parishioners, His Eminence headed for the Cathedral, where
he venerated the holy icons and addressed those who gathered.
The following morning, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, along with
Archbishop Mark, Bishop Michael and Bishop Agapit, Fr Alexander,
Fr Peter and Fr Serafim Gan, Protodeacon Victor and Subdeacon Nicholas,
the Cathedral's Rector and parishioners visited Westminster Abbey
and other historical sites of the city. Later that day, His Eminence
officiated at all-night vigil at the Cathedral. During the festal
polyeleos, besides the aforementioned bishops and clergymen, Archbishop
Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America and clergymen of the
Diocese of Great Britain also participated: Archimandrite Alexis;
Priest Thomas Hardy; Priest Andew Phillips; Priest Peter Baulk and
Priest Paul Elliot and Hierodeacon Savva. At the end of service,
the sisterhood offered a trapeza in honor of His Eminence the First
On May 29, His Eminence performed the great consecration of the
lower church in honor of the Royal New Martyrs along with the archpastors
and clergymen who participated in the vigil, and then Divine Liturgy
in the upper church, during which His Eminence Vladyka elevated
Fr Thomas Hardy to the rank of protopriest; Fr Thomas has been a
clergyman of the Diocese of Great Britain for many years. Archbishop
Mark interceded for this award before the Synod of Bishops because
Fr Thomas provides invaluable support to the rector of the parish
in providing for its spiritual needs. Fr Vadim is burdened with
ministering to small communities all over England, visiting prisons
and refugee camps, and also tends to the Russian flock in Ireland,
which he visits once a month. All this would be impossible without
Fr Thomas' help in spiritually nourishing the London parish.
Participating in Divine Liturgy were Stavrophor Protopriest Milun
Kostic, a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox Church. As during all-night
vigil, so during Divine Liturgy, a great multitude of people were
present, and many communed of the Holy Gifts. At the end of liturgy,
His Eminence addressed the worshipers with an archpastoral sermon,
saying, in part:
brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen!
am happy to greet all of you with this happy Paschal greeting, heralding
for us the joy of the Resurrected Lord.
these days we rejoice, for we hope, we pray that someday we will
be resurrected for eternal blessed life with the Lord in the Kingdom
Gospel reading tells us that during His earthly life, the Lord Jesus
Christ revealed His divinity in various ways, and rarely spoke directly
of it. Even to His disciples, the apostles, He revealed the mystery
of His Divinity only during the final days of His social work.
this woman of Samarian, despite her sinfulness, was deemed worthy
to hear from the Lord the direct confirmation that He is the Messiah:
'I that speak unto thee am he.'
Samaritan woman, speaking with the Lord at the well of Jacob, recognized
in the Lord an uncommon person, and so decided to ask of Him a response,
clarification of the question which troubled the Samaritans and
led to quarrels with the Jews. The Jews had said that one must only
pray and bring sacrifice in Jerusalem, in the Temple. But the Lord
Jesus Christ said to her: 'Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when
ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship
woman replied: 'I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ:
when he is come, he will tell us all things.' To which the Lord
said: 'I that speak unto thee am he.'
woman was alarmed by this news and immediately went to the city
and told the men of this.
so the woman of Samaria came to Jacob's well for plain water, and
found the Lord, from Whom she received the blessed water.
went to Samaria with the teaching of Christ, and to other countries,
and became a martyr for Christ. May the Lord illumine us with His
grace through the prayers of Holy Martyr Photinia.
we consecrated your lower church. In this way, we invoked God's
grace upon your labors, the church dedicated to the Holy New Martyrs
and all the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia suffered for the Orthodox faith,
for the truth of Christ, at the hands of the atheists. They gained
thereby the grace-filled gifts from Christ our God. The New Martyrs
now help the Russian Orthodox people return to the path of the church
and to live according to the teachings of Christ, they help us in
the path to salvation.
people scattered throughout the world, in building holy churches
and in living their lives must become preachers-missionaries of
the Holy Orthodox faith. Your church, which we consecrated today,
and the upper church, which, God willing, you will complete, preach
Holy Orthodoxy with their magnificent cupola and cross, which can
be seen from afar.
wish you, brothers and sisters, to finish the construction of the
upper church as well, so that it would be painted with holy icons
and consecrated. Then your church, honoring the feast day of the
Holy Dormition of the Mother of God, will not only be an adornment
of this city, but would be a source of gracious gifts for all who
God help you, brothers and sisters. Amen."
At the end of services, Archbishop Anatoly of Kerchensk (ROC/MP)
arrived along with Protopriest Mikhail Gogolev, a clergyman of the
London Cathedral of the Moscow Patriarchate; Archdeacon Makary of
Moscow's Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery; and Archimandrite Emelian,
a clergyman of Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain
(Patriarchate of Constantinople).
Before the kissing of the cross, Archbishop Mark greeted His Eminence
Vladyka Laurus, expressing on behalf of the clergymen and parishioners
of the London Cathedral deep gratitude that His Eminence found the
time to visit London and perform the great consecration and Divine
Liturgy, after which he turned to the parish rector and parishioners
with a word of greeting, wishing them God's help and the speedy
completion of the construction project. Then His Eminence Vladyka
Laurus granted gramatas [decrees of blessing] from the Synod of
Bishops to Priest Vadim Zakrevsky and a series of parishioners and
benefactors. During the trapeza that followed, delivering speeches
were Archbishop Mark, who welcomed the visitors from the other Local
Churches; Bishop Agapit, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff and Priest
Vadim Zakrevsky. For the first time in a long time, all the priests
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in England were
able to meet with His Eminence the First Hierarch and with each
other. This opportunity was appreciated and welcomed by all. The
clergymen and worshipers parted ways with an elevated spirit.
Later that evening, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus visited St
Edward's Brotherhood, dedicated to the Martyr King Edward, whose
relics abide in the monastery church. Here, His Eminence was warmly
welcomed by the Abbot, Archimandrite Alexis and the brethren.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, donning the minor hierarchal vestments,
performed a moleben at the cross erected on the site where the new
monastic residence will be built. During the service, besides the
above-named bishops and clergymen, representatives of other Local
Orthodox Churches, local civil leaders and an enormous number of
faithful were in attendance.
On May 30, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and those with him,
visited Annunciation Convent in London, founded in 1954 with the
blessing of St John (Maximovich) for spiritual-educational purposes.
Then, through the efforts of A and N Samarenko and other parishioners,
a festal reception was offered to honor His Eminence Metropolitan
Laurus. Here His Eminence was given the opportunity to speak with
the parishioners and worshipers of Holy Dormition Parish on various
ecclesiastical and spiritual matters. At the reception, His Eminence
Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishop Mark, Protopriest Peter Holodny,
Priest Vadim Zakrevsky, PM Lisitsyn and others spoke.
In his address, His Eminence Metropolitan again congratulated the
rector and parishioners, calling upon them all to make good use
of the newly-consecrated church, to become part of the church, and,
taking in the salvific mysteries of the Church, to lead their spiritual
lives, for "I have prepared my dinner" (Matthew 22:4),
says the Lord. And so, "Let us accept Him," writes St
Macarius the Great, "and lead Him into ourselves; because for
us He is food, and drink, and eternal life."
On May 31, after thanking Archbishop Mark, the Parish Rector, Fr
Vadim Zakrevsky and the parishioners, who welcomed him so warmly,
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and his co-travelers left for home.
We wish His Eminence Archbishop Mark and his God-protected flock
further successes in the work of the Church, and may the Cathedral
being constructed be a beacon of Orthodoxy placed on high, illuminating
with Divine Truth the hearts of the faithful in Great Britain.