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185. Sept. 12/25, 1975. Apodosis of the Nativity of the Theotokos

Dear Father George,


Enclosed is a brief report on the Western Saints you asked about. None of them seem to be in the Orthodox Calendar, but with one possible exception (St. Callistus, who should be investigated more fully) there seems to be no doubt that they are legitimate Orthodox Saints of the West.

We ourselves have been gradually compiling information on the Western Saints and coming to some conclusions about the ways by which to distinguish the authentic Orthodox Saints of the West (who are certainly the vast majority of the pre-schism Western Saints) from the few which for one reason or another are dubious or even definitely not Orthodox. Since we simply cannot trust any Western sources of recent centuries, and in fact most Western sources right back to the 11th century (when romance and legend started coming in), the key is to get to the original sources as much as possible, and tie them in when possible with the undoubted Orthodox sources of both East and West. I have tried to do this briefly in the enclosed report, and we will also have an article on this subject in the 1976 Calendar, God willing (for which your order has been recorded). Please pray for us that we will be able to continue this work which Archbishop John gave as his testament to us!

Concerning the veneration of Saints not found in Orthodox Calendars: there have been different approaches to this in different periods and places in Orthodox history, and there is no one rule to guide us. To wait for the official “canonization” of all these Saints would be futile and hopeless (and very discouraging to us who love them!), and in fact has never been done—usually lists of local Saints or Saints from other Orthodox Churches are added to the Orthodox Calendar far less formally. But also it is evident, because there are some questions with regard to at least a few of the pre-schism Saints of the West, that we should not be too free in simply venerating whomever we want. In your case, so that you can avoid any thought that you are doing something irregular or introducing an innovation (and just as important: to avoid baseless rumors that you are doing so), we would advise you to submit this list with a letter of explanation to your bishop (Archbishop Nikon, I believe?), asking his blessing to give veneration to these Saints in your church (i.e., kiss the relics, have icons painted of them, keep their feast days, sing the service to them). You can submit our comments to him, or if you like we could write him a letter in Russian (we know him well) giving our reasons for believing these Saints to be Orthodox. (But a little more research should be done on Callistus before submitting his name with the rest.)

Is there any possibility for us to obtain some relics of Western Saints? We would particularly like to have a relic of St. Scholastica, and would consider it a great mercy of God if we could obtain a relic of St. Martin of Tours, or of St. Gregory of Tours or other Gallic Saints (or actually, any Saints of the West!).

We rejoice in the obtaining of your new church building. May Christ our God’ prosper your parish in true Orthodoxy. But be prepared for severe trials ahead, and don’t let them knock you over!

Please pray for us sinners.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood
Platina, California
Father Seraphim


1. St. Cletus, Pope of Rome, April 26
Evidence: Ancient Martyrologies call him “Martyr,” which should already be sufficient, in the absence of any evidence that he was not Orthodox, to establish his veneration.
Note: Roman Martyrology makes him the third Pope (April 26), and Anacletus the fifth Pope (July 13); but Eusebius thought they were one and the same person, and modern scholars seem to tend to this opinion. Actually, almost nothing is known of either of them, save that they were martyrs.

2. St. Callistus, Pope of Rome, c. 218-222 Oct. 14 (seemingly the date of his burial, with his martyrdom on Oct. 12 according to Buder)
Evidence: Called Martyr by ancient Martyrologies.
Problems: St. Hippolytus of Rome violently attacked him, (1) for being too lenient in the question of repentance (which in itself would not make him un-Orthodox), and (2) for teaching the Partipassian heresy of Noetus (a serious charge).
Conclusion: He should be investigated more fully, for example in the church histories of Socrates and Sozomen (which are in English in the Eerdman’s series, but which we don’t have) and Theodoret (which is probably in English).

3. St. Julius, Pope of Rome, +352, April 12
Evidence: Well known in Church history as a defender of St. Athanasius the Great against the Arians; even sent St. Athanasius back to Alexandria with documents in his favor. In Russian Synodal Life of St. Athanasius, he is called “St. Julius.” There seems to be no doubt of his Orthodoxy and sanctity.

4. St. Scholastica, c. 543, Feb. 10
Evidence: Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, Book II (Life of St. Benedict), chs. 33 and 34, where it is related that she miraculously delayed the departure of her brother by praying for a storm, and that St. Benedict himself saw her enter heaven at her death. This is about all that is known of her; but the testimony of these two Orthodox Saints leaves no doubt whatever as to her sanctity.

5. St. Eugenius, Bishop of Carthage, 505, July 13
Evidence: Well-known in Church history as a defender of Orthodoxy against Arianism; suffered and banished under the Arian Vandals. Gennadius ascribes to him a confession of faith against the Arians; St. Gregory of Tours (History of the Franks) quotes a letter to his flock from banishment. No doubt of his Orthodoxy and sanctity.

6. St. Ursula, 3rd century (?), Oct. 21
Evidence: Large church built over her remains (with other virgin-martyrs) in Cologne, great popular devotion in 7th century and probably earlier; 4th century inscription about virgin martyrs (not by name).
Problems: Her Life is late and includes much speculation and legend; and her name does not appear in texts before 9th century (although veneration of virgin-martyrs of Cologne goes back much farther).
Conclusion: Best not to trust her Life from Catholic sources, but no reason to doubt that she was virgin-martyr from early period of Church, about whom nothing else can probably be known.

7. St. Eligius, Bishop of Noyon, 659, Dec. 1
Evidence; Long Life written by his friend St. Ouen, Bishop of Rouen, 13 years after his death (or according to others, perhaps 50 years). Many miracles, popular veneration. No seeming evidence of non-Orthodoxy.


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