On Monday, August 4, 2003, the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America was notified that His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony [Bloom] of Sourozh, the 89 year old head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, passed away.
Upon learning of Metropolitan Anthony’s death, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent a message of condolence to His Grace, Bishop Basil of Sergievo, who just days earlier had been named Administrator of the Sourozh Diocese by the Moscow Patriarchate.
The text of Metropolitan Herman’s message reads as follows.
“On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, please accept my prayerful condolences on the falling asleep in the Lord of His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony.
“The life of Metropolitan Anthony and his witness to the Gospel as an Archpastor and theologian have left an indelible imprint on the spiritual life not only of the Diocese of Sourozh but also around the world through all who read his many works and were inspired by his deep humanity and peaceful witness of the Orthodox faith. Through his writings and his memory living in us, his ministry of love and hope will be passed on from generation to generation.
“Please know that the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America will keep in prayerful remembrance the memory of Metropolitan Anthony during these 40 days of commemoration. We will do so with joy in the hope of the resurrection and in gratitude for his life and contributions to Holy Orthodoxy. May his memory be eternal!”
Born in Lausanne in 1914, Metropolitan Anthony spent his early childhood in Russia and Persia, his father being a member of the Russian Imperial Diplomatic Corps. His mother was the sister of Alexander Scriabin, the composer. During the Russian Revolution the family had to leave Persia, and in 1923 settled in Paris, where the future Metropolitan was educated, graduating in physics, chemistry and biology, and receiving his doctorate in medicine, at the University of Paris.
In 1939, before leaving for the front as a surgeon in the French army, he secretly professed monastic vows. He was tonsured and received the name Anthony in 1943. During the occupation of France by the Germans he worked as a doctor and took part in the Anti-Fascist movement of the Resistance. After the war he continued practicing as a physician until 1948, when he was ordained to the priesthood and sent to England to serve as Orthodox Chaplain of the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius. He was appointed vicar of the Russian patriarchal parish in London in 1950, consecrated to the episcopacy in 1957, and elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1962 with pastoral oversight of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland. In 1963 he was appointed Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe, and in 1966 was raised to the rank of Metropolitan. At his own request he was released in 1974 from the function of Exarch, in order to devote himself more fully to the pastoral needs of the growing flock of the Sourozh Diocese and all who come to him seeking advice and help.
Metropolitan Anthony received honorary doctorates from Aberdeen University, the Moscow Theological Academy, Cambridge University, and the Kiev Theological Academy. His first books on prayer and the spiritual life—“Living Prayer,” “Meditations on a Theme,” and “God and Man”—were published in England, and his texts are now widely published in Russia, both as books and in periodicals.
Funeral services will be held at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition and All Saints, Ennismore Gardens, London, on Wednesday, August 13. Interment will follow at Old Brompton Cemetery.
May Metropolitan Anthony’s memory be eternal!