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Tuesday 21 August 2007, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has
officially recognized the Feast of the Saints of the Isles. (See our Service to
these Saints on this website under ‘Hisperica Liturgica’ – Western Liturgica).
This Feast is in honour of the Saints who lived in Great Britain and Ireland
before the Western Schism of 1054. This was when most of Western Europe
tragically split off from the Church, thus founding Roman Catholicism and later
the myriad of sects which grew up from this.
The Feast will be observed, as it already has been for many years in parishes
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and elsewhere, on the third Sunday
after Pentecost. The Synod has also decided that these Saints’ names should be
included in the Church Menologion, once their lives and exploits have been
The Synod’s decision follows the appeal of 3 March 2007, when the Russian
Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland of the Diocese of Sourozh,
petitioned His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II and the Holy Synod of the Russian
Church to give official recognition to the Feast of the Saints of the Isles.
Once again, we see how the work begun by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in New York is being completed in Moscow. First,
in 2000, His Holiness and the Synod in Moscow recognized and completed the ROCOR
canonization of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia of 1981. Now it is
recognizing the Local Saints of the Western Lands, who previously had not been
known or venerated in Russia, but had been venerated since the 1970s in ROCOR.
This decision is clearly a historic turning-point. The Local Saints of the
Western Lands now begin their entry into the calendar of the whole Russian
Orthodox Church. This is a sign of the universalism or catholicity of the
Russian Church. It is also, we must add, the recognition of our thirty-three
years of unceasing struggle against both the forces of ecumenistic modernism and
ritualistic conservatism. We well remember how the persecution and mockery that
we faced from both extremes in the 1970s, when there was virtually no sympathy
for our cause. Later we recall how our writings on them had to be published at
personal sacrifice, in order to make these Saints of God known. This is once
more the victory of the royal path of moderation, victory over the spiritual
death of extremes. We pray and hope that the Local Saints of other Western Lands
will now also make their entry into the consciousness and calendar of the whole
Church of Rus.
God is wonderful in His Saints! Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee!