By Hieromonk Sozomenos Poliviou
GENUINE ORTHODOX CHURCH
HOLY PAN-ORTHODOX SYNOD
In Birmingham of Great Britain, on 19th October 2013 e.c
Protocol number: 657
A SYNODICAL ACT
on the establishment of a common commemoration and gathering for all the Saints who preached, lived ascetically, underwent martyrdom and overall who shone forth in the Isles of Britannia.
In the Name of the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity.
The Holy Pan-Orthodox Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church, having gathered on the 19th October 2013 e.c., the feast day of our venerable Father Frideswide of Oxford and of the Prophet Joel, in Birmingham, Great Britain (ecclesiastical region of the “Old Rome” which shone in Orthodoxy prior to the schism) having convened at the Cathedral of the Holy, Equal to the Apostles, Saints Constantine and Helen, (under the pastoral duty of the Autocephalous Genuine Orthodox Church of Cyprus) and taking into consideration the decisions made at Koropi of Attika, Athens (15.07.2013), and at the Carpathian mountains in the Ukraine (25.07.2013), regarding the establishment of a common commemoration, thus, the gathering for All the Saints who preached, lived ascetically, underwent martyrdom and overall who shone forth in the Isles of Britannia, now addresses via this present Act every member of the Church, joyously proclaiming: “Wondrous is God in His Saints.”1.
Honourable Fathers and beloved brethren and children-in-Christ,
According to Orthodoxy’s great Theologian, the Blessed Damascene, the “living temples of God” and the “living tabernacles of God” are the Saints of the Church, the holy people in whom “God dwelt even in their bodies in spiritual wise”2. In the Synaxarion for the Sunday of the All-Saints we read: that “many people have been well-pleasing to God” and “many lived a God-pleasing life [...]even as far as the British Isles themselves; ”3.
The presence of Orthodoxy in the British Isles covers the entire the first Christian millennium. Christ’s Gospel was preached here very early, even since the Apostolic years, according to authoritative ecclesiastical writers (Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and the Blessed Chrysostom) and three strong traditions of the Synaxarion that make reference to this.
In accordance to the first of them, Saint Peter the Apostle himself, travelled evangelising the word of God to the peoples who laid in ignorance in Britannia, where he was informed by a holy Angel about his forthcoming death and having returned to Rome, he died in martyrdom. 4. According to the second tradition, which is accepted by Saints Theodoritus and Clement of Rome, it was the Apostle Paul who preached in Britain, where he ordained to Bishop, his disciple of Cypriot descent the Apostle Aristobulus 5, brother of the Apostle Barnabas. Finally, the Christian preaching in Britain is enjoined to the burier of the Lord, Saint Joseph of Arimathea who, according to the third tradition, sailed to the Isles bringing with him the Holy Grail and the Crown of Thorns. 6.
Preponderant of these three traditions, is that which sees the Apostle Aristobulus having been ordained by the Apostle Paul as Bishop of the British Isles. In this way, Aristobulus, becomes the first Bishop of this God-saved regional Church, undertaking immense battles against idol-worshipers. The aforementioned tradition is recorded in the Synaxarion of his feast day in which it is stated that, “after the glorious Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, the divine apostle of Christ, followed Paul the Apostle, preaching the Gospel throughout the earth, assisting and working as a genuine and faithful disciple. Having been ordained a Bishop by Paul, he came to the Isles of the Britons, preaching Christ, sometimes beaten, other times dragged inside river beds and mocked, he convinced many to proceed towards Christ and be baptised. Having structured the Church and having appointed Priests and Deacons therein, he reposed.” 7.
No matter, however, the identity of he who sowed the Gospel’s word, God’s blessing had been plenteous and the regional Church of Britain offered her chosen fruit at the altar of the Jerusalem on high. (In one source there are 81 Saints of the British Hagiologion commemorated 8, but many more are recorded in the Roman Martyrologion.9). In accordance with tradition and various ecclesiastical writers, Saint Alban who underwent martyrdom around the 3rd century, is commemorated as the first Martyr of Britannia.
Throughout the 5th century, Saint Germanos, Bishop of the French “Auxerre”,
engages in confronting the heresy of Pelagianism in Britannia; in the course of the 6th century, sent to Britannia by Pope Saint Gregory the Great named the “Dialogist”, is Saint Augustine the first Archbishop of Canterbury and coordinator of the Church in Britannia. Since then a radiant multitude of missionary Hierarchs are accounted in the British Hagiologion, amongst whom is Saint Patrick the Bishop and Enlightener of Ireland whom using the shamrock was teaching the pagans about the Holy Trinity; Saint David the Enlightener of the Welsh, Saints Ninian and Columbas the Enlighteners of the Scots, Saint Kentigern Bishop of Glasgow, Saint Aidan Bishop of Lindisfarne, Saint Ced Bishop of Essex, Saint Chad Bishop of Lichfield, Saints Laurence, Theodore the Greek, Melitus, Justus, Honorius, Dunstan, Alphege Archbishops of Canterbury and others.
Within the British Hagiologion, equally commemorated, is a multitude of ascetics as monasticism peaked on these islands. Indicative of this peak is the reference of the great English historian Saint Bede, whom in his disquisition “Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum”, mentions that in the Monastery of Bangor, “there was so great a number of monks, that the monastery being divided into seven parts, with a superior set over each, none of those parts contained less than three hundred men, who all lived by the labour of their hands.”10.
A great flourishing of monasticism was observed when the aforementioned great Monastic Father, Saint Columbas from Ireland, established the Monastic centre of the Island of Iona, near the Scottish coast. Since then the British Hagiologion has been enriched and included in that are radiant fathers and mothers amongst whom are Saint Cuthbert, Saint Brigid the Abbess, Saint Gildas the Wise, Saint Sadok the Abbot, Saint Alt the Abbot, Saint Liova the Abbess and Saint Edith the Virgin and others.
Nonetheless Christian missionary work would encounter great difficulties if pious British Kings and Sovereigns had not longed to assist it. Saint Lucius the so called “King of Britannia” is the first King of pre-Saxon Britain to convert to Christianity, after having requested this outcome from Saint Eleutherius Pope of Rome, while, Saint Ethelbert King of Kent, is recorded to be the first Anglo King to convert to Christianity. The list of royal Saints appears to be lengthy and within it shine forth Martyr Oswalt the King of Northumbria, Saint Edgar the peaceful and Saint Elgiva both Sovereigns of England; Saint Edborg of Winchester, martyr Saint Edward the King whose relics are saved and many others. Saint Constantine the Equal to the Apostles and God-Crowned King, before his conversion to Christianity, was coronated as senior Emperor of the western Roman Empire in Eboracum, modern day York, after his father Constantius Chlorus died in 306. By the year 324 he went on to become sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire (east and west), eventually becoming the first Christian Roman Emperor.At the dawn of the second millenium, with the completion of the schism of Rome, the predominance of Papism is observed in the British Isles. In this way, “the special characteristics of the Church of Britain disappear and at the same time, heresy delves in, until the hurricane of Protestantism, with its disastrous consequences, swept through and wiped out everything”.11.
In the course of the 20th century, a small resurgence of Orthodoxy is noted in Britain, under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other regional Churches, unfortunately infused with the ecumenistic heresy. With the Grace of God however, from the decade of the seventies and onwards, a Genuine Orthodox Mission started to develop in Britain, under the spiritual and pastoral duty of the late Bishop of Citium, Epiphanios. This mission having expanded and centred around the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Birmingham, founded by Father Soterios Hadjimichael, who served as the parish Priest for the past four decades, already yields rich fruit and delivers a daily testimony of the genuine Orthodox Faith and life in Christ before a secularised society unconcerned with spiritual things.
Thus, the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church, with great gladness and satisfaction has accepted the proposal of the head of the mission in Britain, Metropolitan of Citium Parthenios and propitiously accepted the comprehensive suggestion of the worker of the British mission, Fr. Sozomenos Polyviou, regarding the establishment of a day of common commemoration for all the Saints of Britain.
therefore, in the Holy Spirit and having seriously taken into consideration that:
a) on the past Sunday, Christ’s Church radiantly celebrated the memory of the God-bearing fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Synod, who having anathematised the iconoclasts and all the heretics, stressed the Orthodox Dogma and endorsed and applauded the decisions of the Synods prior to theirs,
b) the British Isles ever since the time of the papal prevalence are plagued by this very heresy and also the Protestant outgrowths that were created by that heresy which, among others, deny and anathematise as idol worshiping the veneration of the holy icons,
c) the institutionalisation of a feast day, in which we will honour all the saints of Britannia who “were stoned, were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword 12” for the spreading forth of the Gospel’s word and the triumphing of Orthodox Theology, just as the God-Bearing Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Synod did, shall be a strong indication that such triumph will occur for the Church of the British Isles, which is scourged today by similar heresies and, which “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against” as promised by Her establisher our Saviour Jesus Christ,
d) honouring the Saints of Britannia and displaying their lives and examples, shall on the one hand greatly benefit the general missionary efforts of genuine Orthodoxy and on the other hand shall attract, through their God-persuading intercessions, the grace of God and the blessing of the Holy Spirit splendidly on the flock of the Church of Britannia; as kinsmen to the Holy Fathers,
that as of now and for ever all the Saints who preached, lived ascetically, underwent martyrdom and overall who shone forth in the Isles of Britannia upholding the Orthodox Faith, be honoured in the month of October, on the first Sunday following that of the Godbearing Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Synod.
For this cause, a special service was composed and an unprecedented icon was painted, dedicated to the Gathering of All the Saints of the British Isles, which we call upon the Christ-named flock to accept and venerate with great joy and faith.
By their intercessions O Christ God, have mercy on us, Amen.
The Holy Pan-Orthodox Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church having assembled in Birmingham of Great Britain Fervent supplicants to the Lord.
1. Psalm 67, 36.
2 «An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith» (PG 94, 1164B-1168C or Book IV Chapter XV)
3 «Pentecostarion», Synaxarion of the Sunday of all-Saints.
4 «New Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church» June Volume, pg. 344 («Νέος Συναξαριστής τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας», τ. Ἰουνίου, σελ. 344.)
5 «New Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church» Μarch Volume, pg. 158 («Νέος Συναξαριστής τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας», τ. Ἰουνίου, σελ. 344.)
6 «New Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church» July Volume, pages 345-346 («Νέος Συναξαριστής τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας», τ. Ἰουλίου, σελ. 345 – 346.)
7 «Κύπρια Μηναία», March Volume, pg. 42
8 Christopher Commodatos, Bishop of Telmissos, «Οἱ Ἅγιοι τῶν Βρεττανικῶν Νήσων», 1985, pg. 9-11
9 «The Book of the Saints – A Dictionary of Servants of God canonized by the Catholic Church, extracted from the
Roman and other Martyrologies». Compiled by the Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate, London 1946.
10 «Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England», ed. by A.M. Sellar,  Chap. II. §411 Christopher Commodatos, Bishop of Telmissos, «Οἱ Ἅγιοι τῶν Βρεττανικῶν Νήσων», 1985, pg. 28
12 «Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England», ed. by A.M. Sellar,  Chap. II. §4