Orthodox America

  In Memoriam - Archbishop Antony of Geneva and Western Europe

On Saturday, October 2 (NS) [1993], while the choir in the Cathedral was singing the Matins of the Resurrection, Archbishop Antony of Geneva and Western Europe reposed in Christ.

Born in St. Petersburg in 1910, then moving to Kiev, Andrei Bartoshevich left Russia after the Civil War for Serbia, where, under the influence of Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky, he was to embark on theological studies in Belgrade.  He became priest in 1941, bishop in 1957 and in 1963 he became ruling bishop of the Western European diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Known and loved for his wisdom and openness to others, Archbishop Antony played a key role in preparing the glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.  When, after the repose of Metropolitan Philaret, he received a majority of votes in the election to find a new metropolitan, he asked that lots be drawn to choose between himself and the second candidate. To his great relief, Metropolitan Vitaly was elected.

Vladika had an extraordinary sense of humor and forthrightness. When I once asked him how it was that a Russian could have an English sense of humor, he looked at me in rather a puzzled way but gave a broad smile when told by a French priest that this was the greatest compliment an Englishman could pay!

All four ROCOR hierarchs of the two dioceses in Western Europe concelebrated at the funeral: Archbishop Mark of Germany and Great Britain, Bishop Seraphim of Lesna, Bishop Barnabas of Cannes and Bishop Ambrose of Vevey.  They were assisted by twenty-two priests and nine deacons. Present but not concelebrating were Metropolitan Damaskinos (Patriarchate of Constantinople in Switzerland) and Bishop Guri (Moscow Patriarchate in Paris).  At the end of the six-hour long funeral liturgy and service, the heavy, zinc-lined coffin with the remains was carried along the streets around the Cathedral three times under the Geneva rain by shifts of eight priests and deacons.  Traffic was stopped but nobody was surprised since Vladika was a well-known personality in Geneva and the local press had carried articles about his repose.  The Mayor of Geneva attended the service.  The Archbishop was laid to rest inside the Cathedral next to his brother, Archbishop Leonty, who reposed in 1956 when still quite young. Now the two brother-hierarchs lie together in their Cathedral.

A year ago the Archbishop had said that he had one year to live.  Weak since April and knowing that his soul would soon part from his body, Vladika consecrated two vicar-bishops for his diocese just two weeks prior to his repose.  And just days before he died he had asked Archbishop Mark to reprint a booklet he had written, "Life After Death", to be distributed in Russia.

Vladika Antony will be remembered for his faithful service in his diocese, his wisdom, his love for the young, his personal generosity, warmth of character, humor, pastorship, his love for his homeland, and his efforts to rekindle the fire of uncompromising Orthodoxy there.  He often spoke of his desire to visit Russia and Kiev where he had relations, but he never was able to return.  He will be especially remembered in our prayers for his missionary efforts in Western Europe.  In spite of his limited linguistic abilities, Vladika had many Swiss converts whom he attracted by his piety and personal warmth.  Perhaps his missionary consciousness was due to the fact that he himself came from a "convert" family: his grandfather was a Roman Catholic.  Bearing witness to his missionary efforts was the presence of ten different nationalities among the twenty-two priests who served at his funeral: Russian, French, Swiss, Austrian, Serbian, Romanian, Dutch, English, Spanish and Slovak, most of whom he had ordained.

To the Most Reverend and Ever-Memorable Antony, Archbishop of Geneva and  Western Europe: Eternal Memory!

Priest Andrew Phillips