From the archives: A photograph of Archbishop William Bernard Crow

This photograph of the future Archbishop William Bernard Crow (Mar Bernard, subsequently Mar Basilius Abdullah III) (1895-1976) has recently been shared with us by his family. Dr Crow is shown here in the full dress robes of a Doctor of Science of the University of London.

Dr Crow held the degrees of Associate of Arts (University of Oxford), Master of Science (University of Wales), Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science (University of London). This last degree was a rare academic distinction awarded in 1928 for a thesis entitled “Contributions to the Principles of Morphology” At that time, the higher doctorate of Doctor of Science from a British university was so prized that a university professor who had been awarded the degree would be called Doctor rather than Professor. Dr Crow was aged 33 in 1928 and so would have been one of the youngest persons ever to be awarded this degree.

At the University of London, the Doctor of Science degree by examination was withdrawn on 30 September 2001 and is no longer awarded.

Dr Crow’s published D.Sc. thesis (1929) – a signed copy preserved in our archives.

The academic robes for the Doctor of Science degree worn by Dr Crow in the photograph were of scarlet cloth, faced and the sleeves and hood lined with faculty silk, which for Science was gold.

Dr Crow was Grand Master of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom (which includes the Ancient Catholic Orthodox Church). This has since 2015 been united with the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, which continues its work.

Notice of dissociation and fraudulent imposture: “Ecclesia Antiquitus Catholicus” and Fabrizio Rovello

The Abbey-Principality of San Luigi wishes it to be known that it has no connection whatsoever with an entity called “Ecclesia Antiquitus Catholicus”. This entity has established a website at https://patriarcatoditerrasanta.jimdofree.com which consists almost entirely of the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted content stolen verbatim from this website and translated into Italian.

At the sole original page of this website (https://patriarcatoditerrasanta.jimdofree.com/sua-santita-santo-padre-generale-patriarca-primate-di-u-nita-benedetto-xvii/) is contained a proclamation by “Patriarch General Benedict XVII IN MYNDO FABRIZIO ROVELLO”. This individual is unknown to the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, is not a member of the San Luigi Orders or of any dependent community under our aegis, and so far as we are concerned, is a fraudulent impostor.

The imposture of Fabrizio Rovello extends to his baseless and impertinent pretence to the titles of San Luigi. By these actions in bad faith, devoid of any credibility or the slightest attempt at justification, he shows himself to be a liar and a man without any sense of honour or Christian morality. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). Accordingly, we have taken the measure of declaring Fabrizio Rovello vitandus, one who is to be avoided by the faithful.

We note that the links in Rovello’s pages have not been edited and continue to point to this website, which may at least succeed in informing some visitors that he is not what he claims to be.

The Abbey-Principality condemns this behaviour in the strongest terms, believing that it constitutes fraud, theft and the deliberate deception of the public. It has made an official complaint to the free webhost Jimdo, seeking to have its copyrighted material removed. The Abbey-Principality reserves all its rights in law and will pursue this matter further through legal action if necessary.

The only official website of the Abbey-Principality is and remains https://www.san-luigi.org and no other website has ever been authorized to promulgate information on our behalf save the websites of our dependent churches and related organizations, all of which are linked from this site.

Clergy of the Ancient Catholic Church: Mar Lukos of Lagos, Accra and Trinidad

Mar Lukos (Davison Quartey Arthur) was a bishop of the Ancient Catholic Church, appointed in 1951.

Davison Quartey Arthur was born in Ethiopia, but travelled to the United States as a young man, where he worked with Bishop St-John-the-Divine Hickerson (sometimes rendered Hickersayon, or referred to as St-John-the-Vine) of the Malankara-Syriac Vilatte succession in an evangelical mission called the Church of the Living God. In 1942, the two prelates established the Coptic Orthodox Church Apostolic Incorporated in Harlem, New York, and Hickerson consecrated Arthur as Mar Lukos, Bishop of Lagos, Accra and Trinidad.

This church adopted the Coptic rites and traditions familiar from Mar Lukos’s youth, and found a following among Black African-Americans who, influenced by the teachings of Marcus Garvey, were looking to connect with their roots and heritage in Africa. Hickerson corresponded with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, hoping for a formal church relationship to be established, but this was not forthcoming.

John A. Hickerson’s faith journey had taken him from Pentecostalism into the Baltimore African-American movement under the travelling preacher Samuel Morris. Here he met the cleric known as Father Divine. Both Morris and Father Divine asserted that they were divine manifestations of God. In 1912, Hickerson broke with Morris and Father Divine, holding that divinity was in fact present in all mankind (1 John 4:15) and that the two of them did not hold a monopoly on the same.

Hickerson was also an early believer in the ideas of Ethiopianism, which holds that the true Jews are Africans and that Jesus Himself was an African. In 1938 he was consecrated in the succession of the African Orthodox Church, one of the first major Black church movements established by George Alexander McGuire and Mar Timotheos (Joseph-René Vilatte, fifth Prince-Abbot of San Luigi).

In 1950, Mar Lukos relocated from the USA to London, UK, where he was resident in Chelsea. He came to know Mar Joannes I of the Ancient Catholic Church (Harold Percival Nicholson) at the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, then at Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea, and through him Mar Georgius of Glastonbury.

Mar Lukos presented papers relating to his clerical status which, after initial scepticism on the part of Mar Georgius, were scrutinized closely and accepted as fully authentic on account of their Coptic seals. While Mar Georgius accepted that there was a Coptic Orthodox origin to Mar Lukos’s consecration, it is notable that his account in Successio Apostolica (1959) does not trace that succession beyond Hickerson, and the same work refers to his church as an American mission of the Coptic Orthodox Church. This was certainly true in respect of its religious practice and heritage, even if it was not in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. Indeed, in the United States, a tradition of independent Coptic Orthodoxy has continued in New York to this day.

On 19 February 1951, Mar Lukos participated in an episcopal consecration for the Catholicate of the West and the Ancient Catholic Church in the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, Chelsea, London, where he received subconditional consecration for ecumenical reasons from Mar Georgius of Glastonbury assisted by Mar Joannes I (Nicholson). At the same ceremony, Mar Lukos consecrated the two prelates sub conditione. A photograph from the ceremony is reproduced above, in which an English translation of the Coptic Orthodox rite was used. The consecration was reported in the local press.

Mar Lukos was subsequently appointed Archbishop of the West Indies in the Ancient Catholic Church. In 1957, he was further appointed to the Sacred Synod of the Eglise Catholique Apostolique Primitive d’Antioche Orthodoxe et de Tradition Syro-Byzantine under Prince-Patriarch Mar Joannes Maria (Assendelft-Altland).

Although none of the churches to which he belonged was in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, in 1952 Mar Lukos travelled to Ethiopia and was received by Emperor Haile Selassie at the Imperial Palace in Addis Ababa.

Remaining in London, Mar Lukos during the 1950s conducted a correspondence with various members and hierarchs of the Church of England, who were generally hostile to him, and his request to them to use a redundant church for worship was refused. The Church of England would not consecrate a Black bishop until 1985.

Nonetheless, Mar Lukos continued to make a contribution to the London community, and the photograph above, which appeared in the Kentish Mercury in April 1957, shows him with the Mayor and Mayoress of Deptford at a Boys’ Brigade inspection. Of his life after the 1950s, nothing is known.

The Apostolic Succession that was held by Mar Lukos is a branch of the Malankara-Syriac succession from Mar Timotheos I (Vilatte) descending through the African Orthodox Church. This branch is preserved today in the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, and indeed Archbishop Phillip Lewis, one of the consecrators of the present Prince-Abbot and a prelate in the contemporary independent Coptic Orthodox movement, stands in the same succession.

Mar Lukos’ first name is also sometimes mistakenly recorded as Denison, but Mar Georgius’s published references to him make it clear that it was in fact Davison.

Death of Pope Benedict XVI

The Abbey-Principality of San Luigi wishes to express its condolences on the announcement of the death of Pope Benedict XVI.

Ecce sacerdos magnus, qui in diébus suis plácuit Deo: Ideo jure jurando fecit illum Dóminus crescere in plebem suam. Benedictiónem ómnium géntium dedit illi, et testaméntum suum confirmávit super caput eius. Ideo jure jurando fecit illum Dóminus crescere in plebem suam. Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto.

Lectures of Archbishop John van Ryswyck

Archbishop John van Ryswyck (1898-1963), whose biography can be read here, was a senior member of, and British representative of, the San Luigi Orders between the 1940s and 1960. He was consecrated bishop in 1949 by Mar Georgius of Glastonbury, first Catholicos of the West.

His Lectures were delivered between 1942 and 1947 and reflect his personal perspectives on a variety of issues that pertain to the more esoteric aspects of the Christian Faith and its history. They were originally collected and placed online by members of his family, and are now reproduced for educational purposes so that they may again be accessible to scholars.

The opinions expressed in these Lectures are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of this jurisdiction.

Index of John Van Ryswyk’s Lectures 1942-47

1-4. Introductory: definitions of religion, science and philosophy.
5. The inner pattern of all religions; the “Heaven-Father”
6-10. Decoding the Genesis story from its Sanskrit origin.
11. J.v.R’s ”Three-in-One Cell Theory” (see 79, 87)
12. The mind analysed in its three parts, or functions.
13. ”Lo-Gos”, the word, from Sanskrit, ”Lo” = ”Sound” ”Gos” = ”Divine” (see 51)
14. God in manifestation: His body, Mind and soul. (see 56)
15. The Invisible: the Comos is finite.
16. Thought-forms; the battle between good and evil.
17. An expanding all-round view, in learning, is superior to a step-by-step method of teaching; The power of thought. Christ the Philosopher.
18. Actuality; the Spirit includes all vibration.
19. The one-ness of all life. (see 52)
20. The law of correspondence; man in the image of God. The Balancing Breath. (see 55)
21. Evolution by re-embodiment, the key to the in-equality of man. All things are living.
22. Evolution continued. The path to perfection at the human stage.
23. Evolution throughout creation. The Ascension of Christ was by de-materialisation.
24. Recapitulation. Morley Martin’s experiment, demonstrating the indestructibility of matter.
25-35. Twelve lectures on the Tao-Teh-King in relation to Christianity.
36. Christianity and Eastern philosophy. The consciousness Exercise.
37. Christianity and Islam.
38. Christianity and Gnosticism. Pt. 1
39. Christianity and Gnosticism. Pt. 2
40. Christianity and Buddhism.
41. The Incarnation of Christ (see 57)
42. Christ and the evolutionary process.
43. The mystical aspect of Sound. (see 63)
44. The entrance of Soul into man. Soul-mates.
45. Karma, the Law of Redemption. (see 47)
46. The Soul and Mind in Time.
47. Responsibility. The Akashic Records.
48. The Spirtual centre within. Christ is within.
49. Further warning against outside control.
50. Stages of Man’s search. The four corner-stones, the four ‘L’s’. (see 53)
51-57. The 12 precepts of John van Ryswyk.
58. The two Wills.
59. The Cosmos is the material (finite) universe, not Reality
60-61. The difference between Mind and Soul. (see 53)
62-63. Awareness. Sound is colour.
64. Thought – how it comes into being
65. More about sound. Lucifer (see 43)
66. The continuity of the picture. The Jig-saw.
67. Everything in life has something to tell us of the spiritual.
68. Finding one’s own centre.
69. True measurement. The ”Sacred Inch.” Go’s Aura.
70. The finite is part of the Infinite: everything is threefold.
(71. Not Available)
72. Sound, contd. The conversion of mind into soul.
(73. Not Available)
74. The Positive and Negative in all Religions. Woman – the ”Power behind the Throne”.
75. Practise contact with all life.
76. The Transformers. Don’t expect a spiritual cup of tea!
77. The path of Evolution is circular.
78. Power is within.
79. The Three-in-One Cell and pre-natal influence.
80. We cannot picture God-the-Father.
81. More about the Three-in-One Cell. God, the germ within the egg. Thought is colour.
82. On ”Precept 7.” (No.53). ”Learn to differentiate between Mind and Soul….”.
83. The Inequality of Man (see 55)
84. Mind control.
85. Hades, a state of consciousness. (see 54)
86. St. Augustine.
87. The Quest. Thoughts from various philosophers.
88. The child is not merely an infant. The importance of the mother’s attitude during pregnancy.
89. The theories of Plato and of other ancient philosophers. (see 51, part 2) Christ-ianity and Christian-ism
90. More about the theories of philosophers.
91. How to develop awareness.
92-95. The Palaeosophic treatment of disease. (see also 20)
96. Introduction to the study of Christian philosophers.
97-105. The philosophy of Jacob Boehme.
106-112. The philosophy of Descartes.
113-116. The philosophy of Roger Bacon
117. The most wonderful journey of the soul.
118. The power of thought.

The complete Lectures listed above may be downloaded in pdf format at this link:

>>The Lectures of Archbishop John van Ryswyck, 1942-47