Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Dunstan in the West, Romanian Orthodox Church

St. Dunstan in the West is a beautiful church in Fleet Street, being a Neo-Gothic building on the outside but yet octagonal inside. 

St. Dunstan was born in 909 A.D.. He was taught by Irish monks at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, where he developed a reputation as a formidable scholar. Dunstan became a companion to the King Aethelstan's stepbrothers, Edmund and Eadred, although being banished after the king's death in 939. He after lived at Glastonbury as a hermit. Eventually he was appointed Abbot there in 945. He was appointed as the Bishop of Worcester, then Bishop of London and finally he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury in 960. Dunstan endeavoured peace with the Danes, promoted monastic life and established the library at Canterbury cathedral, where he was, in 988, buried. 

The original church stood at the same sight as the one found today. The exact date it was built is unknown to us, however we are sure it was between 988 and 1070 A.D. It is probable that Saint Dunstan himself, or priests who knew him quite well, decreed that a church was needed here. The church was nearly destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666), however the Dean of Westminster saved the church by rounding up forty scholars from Westminster School to help him extinguish the flames with buckets of water. 

St. Dunstan was rebuilt in 1831. The tower was extremely damaged by German bombers in 1944 and was rebuilt in 1950. St Dunstan in the West became a Guild Church in 1952.

One great fact concerning this specific church is that it is home to the Romanian Orthodox Church in London. The beautiful altar screen, also known as iconostasis, was brought from a monastery in Bucharest (the capital of Romania) in 1966. It is a centre for the growing Romanian community in the U.K. emphasising how Orthodoxy benefits from the relationship and contact with the Anglican Church, which has in numerous instances accommodated the Orthodox church establish itself in Gr. Britain, as seen in the history of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Gr. Britain and the history of the establishment of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius.  

St. Dunstan in the West is also home to the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association (AECA), making St. Dunstan a centre for Christian Unity. The side chapels within the church contain altars dedicated to different traditions, i.e. the Lutheran Church in Berlin, Oriental Churches (Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, Syro-Indian) and the Lutheran and Reformed Churches.

Although many in the Eastern part of the Christian world might see this negatively, it is a great example of how various Christian denominations can co-exist in one Church, preserving of course their traditions respectively. It is vital to remember that the Anglican Church has nourished and serviced the establishment of the Orthodox Church within the U.K. and it is still promoting this spirit even today.  

1 comment:

  1. Polu endiaferon 8ema dhmhtrie.. Na baleis k tpt Gia ton agio Nikolao ton mega..opws les k esy.. Tou Nikolaou !!!