ForewordWho are the great historical figures of Western Europe who define its identity? The answers of the secular world to this question are quite different from those of the Church. The Western secular world exalts secular figures like Charlemagne, Charles V, or Napoleon as “great Europeans”. But all three of these left Europe full of graves. Indeed, Charlemagne and Charles V were renowned for their massacres and, as for Napoleon, he declared that he would have had Christ hanged as a fanatic.
|Crowd before an illuminated Santiago
cathedral during the festivity of |
Saint James the Apostle.
Santiago de Compostela, Photo: A Coruña,Turgalicia
Here we have no space to mention the many amongst them who achieved only local fame, but we can at least mention some of the greatest, who obtained international honor.
These Apostolic figures were to inspire countless others, who were to set out in later centuries as local Apostles, to enlighten the different regions and provinces of Western Europe. In the third and fourth centuries such saints established the Church in south-western Europe, in Italy, the Iberian Peninsula and Gaul, in the fifth and sixth centuries in the Celtic West, in the seventh century in England, and in the eighth to eleventh centuries in the Germanic north-west.
In other parts of the Empire there were others who also helped shape the spiritual identity of Europe. In Northwest Africa also there were many martyrs, for instance, St. Perpetua and St. Felicity († 203), and St. Cyprian of Carthage (# 258). In other parts of the West there were many other martyrs, still relatively little known outside their homelands, for example, St. Maurice of Agaunum in Switzerland († c.287), St. Eulalia of Merida († 304), St. Vincent of Spain († 304), St. Alban the Protomartyr of Britain († c.305), or St. Ursula in Germany (5th cent).
|St. John Cassian|
|St. Anschar (Ansgar).|
AfterwordAfter a thousand-year-long apostasy and as, seemingly, we re-enter pagan times, there are those who consider that the Christian history of Western Europe is a thing of the past. This is a negative and fatalistic viewpoint. The spiritual identity of Western Europe is not beyond recovery. The final word in history has not yet been spoken. However, if Western Europe is to be recovered for Christ, this will only come to pass through the pure seeds of its Conversion, on the foundations laid by the above Great Europeans.
From Orthodox England, 2004
29 / 09 / 2013
 The evil of Napoleon is reflected in that of Lenin who, in the twentieth century, desired to erect a statue in honor of Judas on Red Square in Moscow. Eventually, instead of this, a miserable tomb was erected to contain Lenin's own putrefied corpse.