A Brief Timeline of the Western Rite
604 AD – Western liturgical forms set by 6th Century and codified by Pope St. Gregory the Great (Diologus)
c. 860 AD – Sts. Cyril and Methodios arrive in Moravia and begin their mission using a Western liturgy there. They essentially used the Western (Latin) liturgy translated into Slavonic in Dalmatia.
985 – 1287 AD – Western Rite Benedictine Monastery founded and running on Mount Athos.
[NOTE: This is of note because the WR Monastery existed after the Schism in 1054 and the Sack of Constantinople in 1204.]
(Approximate 578 year gap)
1865 – Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Overbeck; a priest of Rome and theology professor at Bonn, living in London converted to Orthodoxy and petitioned the Russian Holy Synod at St. Petersburg for permission to use the Latin liturgy.
September 1869 – The Russian Holy Synod authorized the use of the Latin liturgy and Benedictine offices.
1870-71 – The Old Catholic Schism occurs after the “reforms” of the First Vatican Council. Russian Orthodox Church openly courted Old Catholics in France and Germany
August 1879 – Dr. Overbeck went to Constantinople to request their approval to use the Latin liturgy and Benedictine offices.
1882 – The Patriarch and Synod of Constantinople approved the use of the Latin liturgy and Benedictine office as had Russia, but with the provision that other Orthodox Patriarchs needed to approve as well. The Church of Greece contested this. The plan was dropped in 1884, probably because of English political interference in the Greek Synod (Overbeck had many powerful enemies in the Church of England and Britain was a strong supporter of Greece in dealings with the Ottoman Empire).
1890 or early 1891 – Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky) of Alaska, the American representative of the Moscow Patriarchate, formally received a parish of Swiss Old Catholics at Dyckesville, near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, as Western Rite parish.
Spring 1892 – Bishop Nicholas (Ziorov) the new successor to Bishop Vladimir made a pastoral visit to the Dyckesville/Fond du Lac parish.
1898 – A Western Rite Diocese was organized in Czechoslovakia under the Russian Synod. After the World War I, Bishop Gorazd Pavlik was received into Orthodoxy in Prague and headed up that diocese until its destruction during World War II by the Nazis. (Bishop Gorazd is commemorated as a martyr—September 4, 1941—on the Western Rite calendar)
1904 – Saint Tikhon (Bellavin), head of the Russian mission in America had sent the 1892 American Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for examination. In 1904 the Holy Synod published Observations on the American Prayer Book. These observations, with extensive additions from the 1869 Gregorian Rite liturgy, have been the basis for all subsequent Orthodox revisions of BCP Holy Communion services. These additions to the Liturgy were by in large the same as those incorporated into the Anglican and American Missals by Anglo-Catholics.
1911 – Bishop Arnold Harris Matthew, the Old Catholic Bishop of London, was received into Orthodoxy along with his entire diocese, by Metropolitan Gerassimus (Messara) of Beirut, acting on behalf of the Patriarch of Antioch. The Patriarch of Alexandria also formally recognized Bishop Matthew and his diocese.
1912 – The corrected Gregorian Liturgy and Formulary for Sacraments (other than Ordinations), Rites and Blessings of the Church as derived from the Rituale Romanum, are blessed by Metropolitan Gerassimos (Messarah) of Beirut for English use in 1912.
1922 – Metropolitan Gerassimus (Messara) came to America with his Archdeacon Anthony Bashir.
August 8, 1926 – Bishop Alexis of Grodno was received, along with several parishes, in Poland. This group was extinguished during World War II and the bishop martyered
February 2, 1927 – The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in America authorized the formation of the “American Jurisdiction” which included a Western Rite missionary outreach. This work was under the direction of Archbishop Aftimios (Ofeish) of Brooklyn.
September 29, 1932 – Bishop Ignatius (Nichols) consecrated by Archbishop Aftimios (Ofeish), Joseph (Zuk), and Sophronios (Beshara) in New York. Bishop Nichols, an ex-Episcopal minister was titled “Bishop of Washington” and given oversight of the Western Rite parishes, and founded the Society of Saint Basil, a devotional society for clergy and laity based on the daily recitation of the Western Breviary.
1933 – Bishop Joseph and Bishop Sophronios died. Cleveland Sobor separated the Russian Church in this country from Moscow formally. The Western Rite Diocese was de facto independent as a result.
1933-34 – Archbishop Aftimios retired.
1934 – Bishop Nichols was made Archbishop by a decree of the Holy Synod of Moscow.
1936 – The Western Rite Ukase of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Moscow was issued in response to pleas from an independent Catholic prelate, Louis-Charles (Irenaeus) Winneart, who was received into the Church in France with 1,500 French Western Rite faithful.
March 6, 1936 – “Holy Orthodox Church in America” was incorporated in the State of New York by Archbishop Ignatius in order to provide for the security, preservation, and continuance of the parishes.
November 12, 1936 – Archbishop Ignatius consecrated Alexander Tyler Turner as assistant Bishop for the diocese.
1937 – Lucian (Dom Denis OSB) Chambault was received and he began a small Orthodox Benedictine priory in Paris, using the Roman Mass and Benedictine Office translated into French. Beginning in the 1940s American Orthodox clergy , such as Frs Meyendorff and Schmemann gained a working knowledge of the Western Rite through Chambault’s Paris priory. Archbishop Peter (L’Hullier) and Fr Schneirla , also frequent visitors at the priory, were already conversant with the Western Rite.
February 6, 1947 – Archbishop Ignatius (Nichols) died and was succeeded by Bishop Alexander (Turner). Turner began looking for a way to bring his Western Rite back under the jurisdiction of a canonical Church.
1952 – Bishop Alexander (Turner) with the assistance of Father Paul Schneirla began conversations in 1952 on canonical regularization by Metropolitan Antony Bashir in the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York.
1953 – Bishop Alexander (Turner) and three parishes of this Western Rite received “on probation” by Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir) of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
May 1958 – Patriarch Alexander II of Antioch requested that Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir) welcome these parishes into the Archdiocese. He forwarded instructing Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir) to “take this same action.”
August 1958 – Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir) issued his “Western Rite Edict” to the Antiochian Archdiocese.
1961 – During Holy Week, the Society of Saint Basil (SSB) was received through chrismations and ordinations into the Antiochian Archdiocese on the basis of Metropolitan Antony’s edict of 1958. This Society had its origin in the work of Bishop Aftimios (Ofiesh) in the 1930’s. Fr Alexander Turner served as Vicar General of the Western Rite Vicariate until his death on September 27, 1971.
1961 – The Western Rite Commission was appointed: Very Rev. John Meyendorff, Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann, Very Rev. Paul Schneirla (all St. Vladimir Seminary faculty) and V. Rev. Stephen Upson. This Commission reviewed Orthodox corrects to the Eucharistic texts and the other sacraments from the Rituale Romanum. This has been the basis for Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate usage and provided the working basis for the Western Rite Directory of 1962.
October 1962 – The Western Rite Directory was issued, “establishing liturgical usages, customs and discipline,” based on western liturgical practices in concurrence with the theological principles from:
1. The 1868 Moscow and 1882 Constantinople approved Overbeck Gregorian Rite. Liturgia Missae Orthodoxo-Catholicae Occidentalis
2. The 1904 Moscow Notes on the American Prayer Book.
3. The 1912 authorization of formulary for the other Sacraments, Rites and Blessings of the Church as derived from the Rituale Romanum, and blessed by Metropolitan Gerassimos (Messarah) of Beirut for English use. The one exception to this is that all ordinations follow the Orthodox formulary.
4. The 1932 Russian Ukase of Metropolitan Sergius.
5. The Antiochian WRV’s liturgical and para-liturgical life, while wholly Orthodox, is entirely Western in presentation as it includes translated and adapted Latin liturgical texts for the Benedictine Divine Office, the Mass, other Sacraments, and various Blessings; observes the Western Church Year and the old Roman sanctoral calendar; the use of Gregorian chant as well as other forms of traditional Western church music and hymnody; ceremonial acts, vestments, architecture, ecclesiastical arts, popular piety and ethos.
1977 – Incarnation Parish (Episcopal) in Detroit received into the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate. This was the first parish ever to use a Eucharistic liturgy based on additions of the 1869 Overbeck Gregorian and 1912 Gerassimos Gregorian Liturgy plus corrections of the 1892/1928 BCP Holy Communion Service as called for in 1904 findings of the Holy Synod of Moscow. All Western Rite parishes up to this point in time had used the Latin Rite (Liturgy of St. Gregory).
1977-Present – Rapid growth in the Antiochian Archdiocese in the U.S. (2 Rites approved & used: Gregory & Tikhon). Parishes now exist in Australia, New Zealand, France and England.