The Archdiocese is the successor of the “Temporary Administration of Russian Parishes in Western Europe” founded by the holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and entrusted to Archbishop Euloge (decrees of April 8, 1921, no. 423 & 424) with the agreement of Saint Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd who until then exercised jurisdiction over the religious institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe (letter dated June 21, 1921), which was later replaced by a “Temporary Russian Orthodox Exarchate of the Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople in Western Europe” provisionally opened by Ecumenical Patriarch Photios II.
The latter, deprived of the possibility of maintaining regular and normal links with its historic center (being subject to an atheistic and anti-religious power which had unleashed a bloody persecution against the Church and its faithful), ” set out on this path in order to preserve the integrity of the communities entrusted to him and to maintain their communion with the fullness of the Orthodox Church under the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarch, primus inter pares in the Orthodox episcopate (statute confirmed by Patriarch BENJAMIN, letters of January 23, 1937 and December 22, 1939, as well as by Patriarch MAXIME, letter of March 6, 1947).
The Exarchate having been closed by Patriarch Athenagoras I (letter of November 22, 1965), the Extraordinary General Assembly of February 16-18, 1966 noted that the “provisional” character of its ecclesial structures no longer had any reason to exist, since they brought together members of the third (or even, today, the fourth) generation, resulting from Russian emigrations that permanently settled in their adopted countries, as well as a growing number of Orthodox of Western origins.
After a short period of hesitation following the abolition of the Exarchate, the Archdiocese was reinstated within the Patriarchate of Constantinople as a unified ecclesial body with a special status of internal autonomy (charter of Patriarch Athenagoras I of January 22, 1971).
This statute was confirmed and extended, with restitution of the title of Exarchate by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on June 19, 1999. The “temporary” mention was removed.
The Archdiocese remained under the canonical authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until November 27, 2018. On that date, the Ecumenical Patriarchate abolished the exarchate and decreed that all parishes should place themselves under the omophore of the metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in each of the countries of Western Europe.
An extraordinary general assembly was held on February 23, 2019. It voted at a majority of 93% in favor of maintaining the existence and integrity of the Archdiocese. In September 2019 a request for canonical attachment was addressed to the Moscow Patriarchate in accordance with the hopes of Metropolitan Euloge who had written in 1931 that “when the normal living conditions of the Russian Orthodox Church will be restored, we will return to our previous situation.”. The Patriarchate having accepted this request, the attachment became effective on November 3, 2019 by the granting of the patriarchal and synodal letter (gramot) from the Russian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Our old hierarchs