‘The Church in the British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to again venerate her own Saints’ — Saint Arsenios of Paros (+1877)
Christianity first came to the British Isles in the 1st century, when St Aristobulus — one of the Seventy Apostles, brother of St Barnabas, and a native of Cyprus — became the first bishop of Roman Britain. For the first thousand years of church history, the Christians of the British Isles belonged to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, and produced an array of saints that are venerated by the Orthodox Church.
Countless pre-schism churches, monasteries, holy springs, the dwelling places and relics of martyrs, hierarchs, ascetics, and royals are to be found throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. On the 27th of November 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarchate added to its list of saints Sophrony (Sakharov) the Athonite — founder of the Monastery of St John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex — making him the first Orthodox saint of the British Isles since the Great Schism.
Our Archbishop, His Eminence Nikitas, has stressed the importance of our Orthodox communities tapping into this wellspring of Britain’s Orthodox, pre-schism heritage. In this spirit, we at St Andrew’s hope to arrange regular outings and pilgrimages to Britain’s holy places, around London and further afield. These will be announced in due course, but anyone interested in helping to organise such events are encouraged to get in touch.