Russian Diaspora Is Witnessing for Christ, Conveying Culture and Beauty to the West

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

One hundred years ago Russian Orthodox refugees formed an ecclesiastic entity, later transformed into the in the Western European Orthodox Archdiocese of the Russian tradition. For decades, due to the political circumstances, the Archdiocese remained separated from the Russian Church, until it has finally been re-united with the Moscow Patriarchate.

On account of the Archdiocese centennial, Patriarch Kirill sent his congratulation to its Head Metropolitan John, clergy and laity:

- The social upheavals that befell Russia in the early twentieth century forced millions of our compatriots to seek refuge in other lands, including Western Europe. In foreign lands, in toil and hardship, our people cherished the Orthodox faith, drawing spiritual strength and consolation from it, knowing that the hope that comes from experience of enduring tribulation is not ashamed (Rom. 5:4).

Life in a foreign culture encouraged Russians to take a fresh look at their fathers' rich heritage and helped them to discover deep meanings in it that they had not previously grasped. For example, one of the most striking spiritual and cultural phenomena of those years in Europe was the Paris Theological School, which influenced the minds of its contemporaries and the development of Orthodox ecclesiology in general.

Witnessing to the Western world the true beauty of the Eastern Christian tradition, Russian diaspora created parish communities, built churches and established theological schools, Orthodox fraternities and sororities... Over the past century, the Archdiocese of Western Europe's parishes has undergone a difficult journey. But the awareness of its responsibility for the preservation and development of the Russian spiritual and cultural tradition remained the key to its long-awaited reunion with the Mother Russian Church.

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