Return to Home Page

A Celebration in London

On Saturday 27 June, the feast day of the holy Prophet Elisha, Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain (ROCOR) brought holy relics of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth and nun Barbara to London. They came from their resting-place at the Gethsemane Convent in Jerusalem to the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition in London. Three Orthodox hierarchs, Archbishop Mark, Bishop Elisey of Sourozh, whose namesday it was, and Archbishop Anatoly of Kerch concelebrated together with the clergy and faithful of both the Patriarchal and the ROCOR dioceses. Afterwards a moleben was concelebrated in front of the holy relics.

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth, born in Germany, was the favourite grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and spent much time in England as a child. Thus, it was significant that her relics were brought to England from Germany by Archbishop Mark. Vladyka Mark remarked how the reliquary, containing earth from the Grand Duchess’ birthplace in Darmstadt and the place of her martyrdom in Alapayevsk, testify to how our common Orthodox Faith is witnessed to in many different lands. Vladyka Elisei remarked how the Holy Martyr Elizabeth, by birth an Anglo-German princess, had become a Russian Orthodox saint. Thus, whatever our nationality, we are united by the Orthodox Faith.

After trapeza there was a meeting of the clergy of the Patriarchal and ROCOR dioceses in Great Britain and Ireland. Here Vladyka Elisei expressed the thought that although the reconciliation of the two parts of the Russian Church was in itself miraculous, the process of unity is not yet complete. All agreed with him. Vladyka Mark expressed the thought that the unity of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe would be greatly helped if a Russian Orthodox Metropolia could be set up in Western Europe. A Metropolia of Western Europe, as suggested in 2003 by His Holiness the ever-memorable Patriarch Alexis II, would allow all to grow in unity.

At 4.00 pm a wonderful concert of Georgian Orthodox music was given by the Georgian Patriarchal choir from Tbilisi. Here the thought was expressed that the Russian and Georgian peoples are brothers and share the same Orthodox Faith and moral values. There should be no feelings of animosity between them and Orthodoxy must be stronger than worldly politics.

The arrival of the relics of the holy martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and nun Barbara to England from Germany, the concelebration of the three hierarchs and clergy, the clergy meeting, the concert of Georgian Church singing, followed by the celebration of the Vigil Service for the Feast of All the Saints who have shone forth in Great Britain and Ireland, all witness to the catholicity of our Orthodox Church and our worldwide unity.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

  to top of page