1. Could you please clarify the basic history of the BOC and their relationship with the so-called 'Celtic Orthodox Church'? I here proffer for your review and comment a summary of my personal understanding of the relevant issues:
Better late than never...
I was browsing the Celtic Lists which I run and came upon some information. There is probably quite a lot more there because at one time Fr Peter Farrington was a very active contributor to the Celt List. The articles are lengthy and so I have just taken out extracts. To see the entire articles and the effect of the union with Alexandria please click on the links. The Celtic Orthodox Church (Eglise orthodoxe celtique)
The Celtic Orthodox Church, largest of St Tugdual's successors, maintains a website here (French Eparchy) with separate websites for the Swiss and British Eparchies. There are also communities in Australia and the USA.
Just as St Tugdual held lines of Apostolic Succession from Jules Ferrette through Mar Georgius, so does the Celtic Orthodox Church, descending via Mar Georgius' second cousin Mar Seraphim (whom he consecrated in 1977) to Paul-Eduard de Fournier de Brescia (Mgr. Mael), its current Primate. I
t was Mgr Mael who was to lead the revival of St Tugdual's monastery. He had founded a monastic community in Montpellier in 1973, the year in which he was ordained priest, and by 1974 it comprised three brothers. The brothers lived lives of poverty, visiting the old people of the district barefoot, and praying in mountain caves. By 1977 the call had come to revive St Tugdual's monastery. Living in the buildings, which had fallen into disrepair, they endured hard winters and built up their community, also encouraging families to settle in the surrounding area and become part of their Orthodox life. They built a new church, dedicated to Notre-Dame du Signe, which was consecrated in 1984.
Mgr. Mael was consecrated bishop by Mar Seraphim in 1980, and in 1995, following Mar Seraphim's decision to unite the Orthodox Church of the British Isles with the Coptic Orthodox Church (whereby it became the present British Orthodox Church), Mgr. Mael was elected head of the Celtic Orthodox Church. Mgr. Mael has since consecrated two bishops for the Celtic Orthodox Church; in 1998, Jean-Claude Scheerens (Mgr. Marc) and in 1999, Stephen Robson (Mgr. Stephen), Eparch of Great Britain. Bishop Stephen has since become a stavrophore monk within the Russian Orthodox Church.http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-archive/message/2808
In 1866, a Bishop [Jules Ferrette] was consecrated by the Old Syrian (non-Chalcedonian)
Orthodox Church and he arrived in Britain assuming the title "Bishop Julius
of Iona" thus affirming, at the start of his Orthodox mission, his spiritual
affinity with the historic centre of Celtic Christianity, Iona, where St
Columba had his monastery. And so, a tiny British Orthodox Church came into
being which sought to recover the ancient Celtic/British heritage of the old
This action of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch did not establish Britain
as a diocese of the Syrian Church, but Bishop Julius, following his
consecration, was left with independent status thus making the British
Church canonical and autocephalous.
Unfortunately, the times were far from propitious for such an enterprise and
Bishop Julius' mission did not flourish. However, it did continue, though in
relative obscurity, into the twentieth century when, despite calumny and
ridicule from without, and ill-judged moves from within, it began to grow
and take on a regular parish life in various centres throughout the British
The British Church maintained its Apostolic Succession of Bishops, and even
added to its succession from other Apostolic lines, thus securing an
authentic and valid episcopal and priestly mission, which continues to this
Quite independently of the quiet revival in Britain, in the 1950's, an
Orthodox priest in Brittany, Father Tugdual, established a little monastery
on the Celtic model near Saint-Dolay. Gradually this monastic settlement
grew and the surrounding area was evangelised by the monks of the monastery.
All this was in the Celtic spirit. Some years later, the British Orthodox
Church, now centred on the ancient Celtic See of Glastonbury, under its
Primate Mar Georgius, made contact with the Breton community and under Mar
Georgius' successor, Mar Seraphim, links with the Breton Church were forged
more strongly. As other similar communities came into union with the British
Church, then known as the Orthodox Church of the British Isles (OCBI), there
came into being what some would term "the Glastonbury Union of Churches".http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-archive/message/1479