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

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Parish of Saint Martin the Merciful in Tours

In April 1944, the wooden church of the Orthodox parish of the Holy Trinity, founded by Metropolitan Euloge was completely destroyed by the American bombardments which targeted the station of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. Only gold was found from liturgical vessels which had melted in the fire. Housed in a room next to the Basilica of Saint-Martin, the parish survived for a few years around its priest, Father Barnabé. Thereafter and until 1987, the Orthodox families living in Tours united in the Western Orthodox Fraternity, around Father Pierre Tchesnakov.

But it should be remembered here that Father Jean-Marie Arnould (+ 2004) was with Father Gabriel Henry (+ 1988) among the first priests who served the West of France from the 1970s.

July 1986: Feast of "Saint Martin d´Eté" (memory of his episcopal consecration). Orthodox pilgrimage to the Abbey of Marmoutier, founded in the 4th century by Saint Martin himself near Tours. Meeting of some members of the local Orthodox community (West Brotherhood) with the Poitou Orthodox and some people who are considering leaving the E.C.O.F. It is through them that we learn that part of their community, including a priest, asked to be received by Bishop Georges (Wagner) in our Archdiocese.

November 21, 1986, feast of the Entrance to the Temple of the Mother of God: Father Pierre Tchesnakov comes to celebrate in Tours. The small group which recently asked to be received in our archdiocese with its priest, Father Jean (Catteloin), joins the local community for a first contact; the creation of a parish is planned.

1987, Palm Sunday: Father Pierre comes to celebrate, with Father John as concelebrant; he and his community were received into Orthodox fellowship. At that time, the community attached to the Fraternity was hosted for the celebration of offices four times a year by the Protestant community of Tours.

Pentecost 1987: with the blessing of Bishop Georges (Wagner), celebration of the first Liturgy of the parish of Saint Martin the Merciful, in the chapel of the Abbey of Marmoutier.

In the following months, the parish leads a nomadic liturgical life: during the summer, the chapel of a small Catholic school, then, after the start of the school year, that of a private high school, accommodates us on Saturdays and Sundays. From the new liturgical year, having a priest on site makes it possible to celebrate three Sundays a month and major feasts. With the Lent of the Nativity, the custom of celebrating Vigils on Saturday evenings was established, which at the time was infrequent in French-speaking parishes in the provinces.

The statutes of the Association Cultuelle Orthodoxe Paroissiale Saint Martin le Miséricordieux were deposited in the prefecture of Indre-et-Loire on March 21, 1988 and the Archdiocese acquired a small house at 6 rue Eupatoria in Tours; the most urgent development works are carried out in record time, and the parish can celebrate the office of the Twelve Gospels within its walls (at the beginning completely decrepit and hung with white sheets to hide the misery ...).

From the outset, services are celebrated in French. Ectenias and troparia of the great feasts are also sung, as much as possible, in the languages ​​of those present.

Living conditions changed at the end of 1992, with the departure of Father Jean and his family, forced to leave Tours for professional reasons. From Theophany 1993, we have a new rector, Father Nicolas Cernokrak, appointed by Monsignor Georges shortly before his death. From now on we will only have liturgy once a month.

In May 2001, after the departure of Father Nicolas Cernokrak, who could not continue to assume responsibility for two parishes, Monsignor Serge asked Father Philippe Maillard, until then substitute priest for Tours and Poitiers, to take over provisionally.

We can say that between 1993 and 2004 our parish maintained itself in a kind of precariousness, with monthly services (even we have frequently celebrated Saturday evenings without a priest). This was made possible thanks to an incalculable number of priests who came to "help out" us, the priests officially in charge having no gift of ubiquity, especially for major festivals. As one of us said, you better not risk listing them, you might forget! In any case, they and their families can be assured of our gratitude and our prayers: we owe our survival to them.

In 2002, for the feast of Saint Martin, we had the joy and the emotion to welcome Monsignor Serge with blessed memory. It was not his first pilgrimage to Tours, but this was his last. Vladyka was clearly exhausted from the illness that was to kill him just over two months later. We cannot forget with what fatherly solicitude he expressed to us his determination to find without delay a viable solution for our parish.

It is with the same solicitude and as much determination that Monsignor Gabriel came to us in 2003. He encouraged us to hold on for another liturgical year, with Father Vladislav who supported and accompanied us as much as he had. the possibility.

In 2004, the parish included about twenty families and welcomed about as many who came to services intermittently. The celebrations could be resumed twice a month.

From November 2004 to December 2006, the parish was served by Father Nectaire (Mocanu). From December 2006 to the Nativity 2010, Father Laurent (Baron) took over, the Rector of the Parish being Father André Fortounatto. From January 2011 to the end of November 2014, our rector was Father Pascal Otabela, since on leave for health reasons.

For several years, we then again went through a period of uncertainty, without a rector, under the deanery of Father Syméon (now Mgr Syméon), then of Father Philippe Maillard, the lack of priests having been filled by several outside priests. at the Archdiocese, including Father Ioan Popescu (from the Greek metropolis), then replaced almost permanently by Father Philippe Maillard.

Since March 2018, we have as a celebrating priest Archimandrite Amfian (Negrut), who was appointed rector of the parish in May 2019.

At its general assembly on October 27, 2019, the general assembly of the Parish approved by 93% of the votes cast the act of joining the Archdiocese to the Moscow Patriarchate.

During our patronal feast on November 11, 2019, we were the first parish of the Archdiocese to receive a visit from Monsignor Jean after his elevation to the dignity of Metropolitan.

Today the parish is made up, almost in halves, of faithful of French origin and of families who have come in recent years from Slavic countries and fully integrated. It continues to welcome new arrivals, mainly from Eastern Europe, as well as native French people.

Liturgical services follow the revised Julian calendar (known as the new calendar) and are mainly sung in French, with some chants and ecténies in Slavonic or Greek.

Due to structural problems in the building, the parish will soon move to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps for a larger building to accommodate the growing number of faithful under the best possible conditions.