Our History

The idea of the re-establishment of the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church is an old one, first suggested in 1866. It came about as a result of enquiries made to the Patriarch of Moscow who in the early 20th century ordained several bishops with the intention that they should remain subject to the Russian Synod until they could form an independent body.

The Western Rite grew steadily, continuing under the protection of the Patriarch of Moscow. In 1944, however, a sad alteration took place between the Metropolia and the Stalinist Government during which it became clear that the Soviet government intended to use the Metropolia for its own political ends. Once this became apparent it became necessary for the Metropolia to disassociate itself from the Patriarch of Moscow, lest it fall into cooperrating the heresy of Sergianism.

Initially the Metropolia placed itself under the auspices of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and later under Archbishop Auxentios of Athens, the primate of the True Orthodox Church of Greece, then the preeminent Old Calendarist jurisdiction of the Eastern Church.

In 1984 the Metropolia was granted self-governance, and issued with its Tomos in 2011.

Following the end of the Cold War, the Metropolia chose to strengthen ties with its sister churches in the IUGOC, rather than attempting to re-unite with the still politicised Moscow Patriarchate.

We work tirelessly for the re-unification of the Church after the terrible events of the 20th Century, and have a history as one of the most vocal advocates of a new Ecumenical Council which we hope will heal many of our divisions.

Today the Autonomous Metropolia counts some 12,000 faithful across North America and the UK, as well as an increasing congregation in East Asia, where we have established 16 new parishes and missions and are in the process of constructing new church buildings to serve the faithful. The Diocese of Whithorn was re-established in 2018 in order to bring Western Rite Orthodoxy back to the British Isles.

The Metropolia has gained a reputation among World Orthodoxy as a key advocate of the Western Rite, as well as being a scholarly authority on the practices of the pre-schism English Latin Church, with many of our translations and commentaries having a wide influence both within the Church and beyond.