Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

Listes des autres pages paroisses

Page information

Parish of Saint Helena and the Holy Cross of Montpellier


During the year 2000, coming from various horizons (Languedoc region, Paris…), a small group of Orthodox, of French and Russian origins, was gradually formed in Montpellier. Prayers of vespers and matins were then recited, in French, at the homes of one or the other, with the deacon Joseph Fouilleul (then attached to the Patriarchate of Moscow).

For liturgical services, each individual attended the parishes of Avignon or Grammont (Greek Archbishopric in France).

Then, in October 2006, this group wished to place itself under the omophore of Mgr Gabriel (archbishop of the Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition, then attached to the Ecumenical Patriarchate). It was then constituted as a parish community under the patronage of “Saint Helena and the Holy Cross”.

In December 2008, Bishop Gabriel ordained a priest to serve this parish, Father René (deacon Joseph) Fouilleul, who was appointed rector in June 2012.

Initially, liturgical offices were celebrated on the ground floor of the apartment (cf. Photo) of a parishioner (Martine Brisson-Voisin) in a district near the center of Montpellier. Then, during the month of March 2012, the grace of God, the perseverance of a parishioner, and the benevolence of the Catholic archbishopric made it possible to celebrate liturgical services in the Church of the Holy Cross, a church whose foundations are from the 12th century, located in the Celleneuve district, west of Montpellier.

The frequency of the celebrations was twice a month at first, to reach a frequency of three times a month. Then, for several years, from the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican until Pentecost Sunday, offices have been celebrated every Sunday.

Liturgical services follow the new calendar and are sung in French. The choir is directed by Nina Schidlovsky-Martin du Bosc, one of the founders of the parish.

The parish is gradually expanding and, since March 2020, Father deacon Stéphane Sévila, ordained on February 16, 2020 by Bishop Jean de Doubna, comes to concelebrate the liturgy, alternating with the parish of Saint-Hermogenes of Marseille (whose rector is the Protopresbyter Jean Gueit)

History says that the Holy Cross Church begins in 789, when Charlemagne defeated the Moors there, on the feast of the Holy Cross, September 14. In 799, Charlemagne gave the land to his friend Benoît d'Aniane to build a priory "Cella Nova" (new cells), which would become the village of Celleneuve (Montpellier was not born until 989). The monks had already occupied this location for a very long time because, this situation, in the heart of the territory of the bishops of Maguelone, made it possible to control the traffic on the paths which crossed the Mosson (in particular the Via Domitia) at the level of Juvignac, and to perceive taxes.

The church underwent major changes in the 14th century. It was then fortified and raised, which gives it an air of a fortress, in order to contribute to the defense of the village then threatened by the hordes of truck drivers who were devastating the region. This is why the nave and the apse were raised, with the installation of machicolations (openings downwards) from which boiling oil or heavy stones could be thrown at the attackers. Currently it is a simple roof with two inverted sides which has been placed on the rampart walk, of which the only vestige still visible is a stone arch under the rock. Until the end of the last century the church housed the recumbent statue of King James of Aragon.

Today, it is difficult to get an idea of ​​the complete appearance of the church as it is embedded in the houses, otherwise, we would see that it looks like a boat and the church of Saintes-Maries- of the sea. The interior of the church has retained its original Romanesque appearance.

The Church of Sainte Croix is ​​the only Romanesque church in Montpellier still open for worship.