Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and Order of Holy Wisdom – clarification

“As students of Church history are aware, many of the first Jewish followers of our Lord Jesus Christ continued, after their conversion, to worship at Jerusalem in the temple and synagogues; but at an early period many Gentiles were also permitted to join the Church, St. Peter and St. Paul being their leaders, the former becoming first Bishop of Antioch in A.D.38. Because of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70 Jewish followers from Jerusalem sought refuge at Antioch and were taken under the protection of St. Ignatius, then Bishop of that city. We are told in the Acts of the Apostles (xi. 26) that the followers of our Lord were first called Christians in Antioch. There is no doubt that at that time the See of Antioch was the premier See of the whole Catholic Church. Later although Rome, Constantinople and even Alexandria claimed priority, owing to their temporal importance, the See of Antioch was continued as one of the five great Patriarchates of the Church. St. Ignatius is said to have first given the name Catholic to the Church, signifying its universal character, as including both Jews and Gentiles. Unfortunately the Christians adherent to Rome and Constantinople separated from the mother Church, and even appointed rival patriarchs of Antioch. The Christians subject to the original Patriarchate of Antioch became known as “Jacobites”, to distinguish them from the Christians subject to Rome and Constantinople. The name is said to be derived from the monk Jacob (or James) Baradaeus who was zealous in resisting the claims of the Fourth General Council, but is, according to ancient tradition, more properly connected with the idea that the Christian Church is a continuation of the House of Jacob, after whom the apostle James, who held jurisdiction at Jerusalem, took his name. The Christians of Antioch were also called “Monophysites” and there is no doubt that at certain times some of them held the heretical view of the one nature of Christ, thus putting a stumbling block in the way of the Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of the union of God and man in the One Person of Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

However, on the whole, the Christians attached to the See of Antioch maintained for a long time the faith and practice of the Ancient Church in its purest form. They retained the idea of the Kingship of Christ at a time when the Roman power was establishing a worldly empire rather than a spiritual one. The Keltic Church of Britain, founded by St. Joseph of Arimathaea, who brought the Holy Grail to this country, was in communion with this ancient Church of Antioch, as were many others little known at the present day. In Britain the Roman hierarchy was established by St. Augustine, until expelled at the Reformation. Thereafter it did not function again until 1850, and then only as a missionary organization dependent upon the Congregation of Propaganda. About this time the See of Antioch made an attempt to reestablish the Church. A Bishop of Iona, under the name of Julius, was consecrated in 1866 and the present head of the Episcopal Apostolic Church, Mar Jacobus, Bishop of Selsey, was consecrated in direct succession to him.

Owing to the need of Western Christians who were attempting to maintain the Ancient Catholic faith and practice in Great Britain, America, Africa and elsewhere, the original Church of Antioch decided to extend its hierarchy to take in those of other lands who desired to be in communion with the Mother Church. This was done by Ignatius Peter III, 126th Prince Patriarch of Antioch. in direct line of succession from St. Peter. This Patriarch, known as Peter the Humble, started what has been called the reunion movement. He published a patriarchal bull, authorizing the establishment of self-governing churches in various parts of the Western world and elsewhere, and arranged for one of his metropolitans to consecrate an elected head of these Christians. The prelate chosen was Joseph Renatus Vilatte, who was duly consecrated as Archbishop and Metropolitan of North America. From Archbishop Vilatte many bishops in various parts of the world derive their apostolic succession and jurisdiction.

The Patriarch Ignatius Peter III died in 1894 and his successors took less interest in these extensions of the patriarchate. Finally in 1938 the Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem I repudiated all the aforesaid acts of his predecessors, and cut himself off from communion with the groups created by them, in spite of the fact that many of the clergy and laity concerned were anxious to remain under his jurisdiction.

In 1943 Mar Jacobus II, the senior Bishop of these groups derived from the Patriarchate of Antioch, convened the Council of London. At this assembly the following groups were represented (i) the Ancient Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in the British Isles, (ii) the Episcopal Apostolic Church[i], (iii) the Old Catholic Orthodox Church[ii], (iv) the Order of the Holy Wisdom and (v) the Order of Antioch. The acts of this Council are summarized as follows: (i) the Council, embracing steadfastly the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Apostolical Traditions repudiated the heresies of Monophysitism and Jansenism[iii] and all other heresies ; (ii) that in view of Ignatius Ephrem I having disclaimed all connection with the above mentioned extensions of his patriarchate, lawfully made by his predecessor, the said Ignatius Ephrem was no longer recognized as holding office, that in consequence of the Patriarchal Synod and many of the bishops in Syria and Malabar having adhered to the aforementioned the right to elect to the vacant see was declared to be now vested in the Council; (iii) that in order to prevent confusion with the followers of the adherents of the aforesaid patriarch it was provided that the Church within the rightful Patriarchate of Antioch should no longer be called “the Syrian Orthodox” or “Jacobite” Church, but should be hereafter known as “The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church” and by no other name; that the original jurisdiction of the Patriarchate should remain as heretofore, but its extensions in the West were specifically recognized and confirmed in their rights ; that the traditional name “Ignatius” in the official designation of the Patriarch should be abandoned, and the name “Basilius” substituted therefor[iv] ; that the full Patriarchal title should in future be as follows: “His Holiness Mohoran Mar Basilius N., Sovereign Prince Patriarch of the God-protected city of Antioch and of all the Domain of the Apostolic Throne, both in the East and in the West ”; (iv) Mar Bernard, Bishop of St. Sophia (Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Wisdom) was elected to the vacant Patriarchal See of Antioch, under the title of Basilius Abdullah III, to whom all bishops dependant upon the Sec of Antioch were required to make their canonical submission within six months from the date of the Council, unless lawfully hindered ; (v) the Council supported all legitimate measures for Christian re-union and exhorted the faithful to pray to this end. (vi) The Council protested against resolutions 27 and 28 of the Lambeth Conference of the.Anglican Church 1920, which it negarded as an unwarranted attack upon the validity of the Episcopal Orders of many Catholic and Orthodox autocephalous Churches and a hindrance to the re-union of Christendom. These acts were duly signed and sealed by the authorized representatives of the aforementioned ecclesiastical organizations.”

The above text is taken from the explanatory pamphlet issued by the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church in 1943.[v]

What had effectively happened was that the Syrian Orthodox Church, having created two distinct Western missions (that of Mar Julius of Iona (Jules Ferrette (1828-1904)) in 1866 and of Mar Timotheus (Joseph René Vilatte (1854-1929) in 1892) with deliberate autocephaly, had also compromised its organisational integrity in so far as those missions were deliberately affiliated to the church, and to that extent a part of it, but under a deliberately loose control, and without the usual staticons limiting jurisdiction. Nor did those missions profess the same faith as the Syrian Orthodox Church. This gave these missions the potential to continue to claim to be a part of the Syrian Orthodox Church without actually being directly subject to it. They were, indeed, no less a part of that church than any other parish or mission, but the mother church had placed itself in a position where she was effectively being held responsible for something over which she had less and less control. Perhaps this status quo could have continued indefinitely, but the political situation (in this case occasioned by Anglican interference) would more likely have induced a crisis point sooner rather than later. This would inevitably lead to schism, with two groups each claiming validly to represent the Syrian heritage, but independent in their governance, and each (unsurprisingly) repudiating the other.

It is important to clarify the position on faith held by these bodies. Their parent, the Syrian Orthodox Church, recognizes only the first three ecumenical councils and rejects the remaining four accepted by both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. However, the two consecrations of Mar Julius of Iona (Jules Ferrette (1828-1904)) and Mar Timotheus (Joseph René Vilatte (1854-1929)) were undertaken in the specific context of ecumenical missions to the West. Mar Julius of Iona, progenitor of the British Patriarchate, “acknowledged the seven Oecumenical Councils and was one in faith with the Patriarch of Constantinople”[vi]. Mar Timotheus, meanwhile, professed the Old Catholic position on faith as defined by the 1889 Declaration of Utrecht, likewise accepted the seven ecumenical councils, and was consecrated by a Western Rite church within the Syrian Patriarchate as Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Old Catholic Church of America[vii]. Neither was a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in partibus infidelitum, but rather stood charged with the development of missions that were held to stand within the charism of Western Orthodoxy. Nor did the Syrian Orthodox Church repudiate communion with either prelate during their lifetimes, despite the evident differences in faith. It was only nine years after the death of Mar Timotheus that a formal breach occurred; even then, it had only done so at the behest of certain Anglicans for whom the isolation of the Western Orthodox missions was politically convenient. It should not be thought that these links of intercommunion between the Syrian Orthodox Church and Western churches were merely isolated instances. In 1911 the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain under Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919) was received into union with the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. In 1933 the Syrian Patriarch consecrated Istvan de Nemeth as bishop of the Hungarian National Orthodox Church.

The new Patriarch of Antioch in the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, Mar Basilius Abdullah III (1895-1976), was a distinguished biologist and published a large number of books and research papers in that field; his work in the classification of algae is still referenced today. As Dr William Bernard Crow he had graduated 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 a rare academic distinction awarded in 1928 for a thesis entitled “Contributions to the Principles of Morphology”[viii]. His grandfather, Thomas Crow (1825-86), having once been a Baptist minister, founded and built the Aletheian Church at Park Lane Avenue, Stratford, east London, which carried out a ministry of a Protestant and free-thinking nature. His father, also named William, maintained the church (where the youthful Dr Crow was for a time an unwilling Sunday school teacher) until after the First World War, when it was sold to the Anglicans and then demolished. Dr Crow was educated at the Cooper’s Company School, which he disliked, and then went on to East London (later Queen Mary) College in the University of London, where he graduated in biology in 1915. Thereafter he saw war service in the Ministry of Munitions and undertook top secret research on H.M.S. President III into germ warfare. In peacetime he became an assistant lecturer in botany at University College, Cardiff (1919-23) and lecturer there from 1923-28. In 1923 and 1925 respectively he attended C.G. Jung’s summer schools at Polzeath and Swanage, and published his notes on these privately. Between 1928-38 he was Head of Biology at Huddersfield Technical College and from 1938 onwards he was Senior Lecturer in Biology at the South West Essex Technical College, Walthamstow. After a year of lecturing for the wartime authorities he took up the position of Senior Lecturer in Biology at Leicester College of Technology, which he held from 1945-60. Returning to London on his retirement in the latter year he nevertheless wished to continue working and served as Head of Biology at Davies, Laing and Dick Tutorial College between 1960-69[ix]. Dr Crow was sometime Vice-President of the National Association of Masso-Therapists and was a member of the International Phrenological and Psychological Institute. In 1968, Dr Crow published his book “A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism” which remains a highly readable and comprehensive survey of all the main branches of these subjects. This was followed by “Precious Stones: Their Occult Power and Hidden Significance” (1968), “The Occult Properties of Herbs” (1969) and “The Arcana of Symbolism” (1970). Two journals were also established by Dr Crow: “Proteus: A Journal of the Science, Philosophy and Therapy of Nature” (founded 1931; the sixth edition marked the centenary of the death of Goethe) and “IAO: A Journal of the Mysteries” (founded 1953). Dr Crow was married in November 1934 to Alice Maud (nee Whalley), widow of Captain Peter Welsh, and by her had a daughter. Between 1930 and 1944 his biography was included in “Who’s Who”[x].

During the early 1930s, Dr Crow had met Fr. Alban Willy Cockerham (1888-1975), a priest in the Liberal Catholic Church. Both men had a great interest in the study of non-Christian religions and associated beliefs, including Theosophy, but neither accepted these beliefs as matters of faith, remaining personally orthodox. Dr Crow himself was ordained priest in the Liberal Catholic Church in 1935. It has been asserted that on 29 December 1936 Dr Crow was secretly consecrated bishop in the Order of Corporate Reunion by Richard Jackson (1851-1937), who was the model for Walter Pater’s “Marius the Epicurean”[xi]. By the late 1930s Dr Crow had become friendly with Mar Frederic (Harrington) (1879-1942), Primate of the Orthodox Keltic Church, who on Easter Day, 9 April 1939, granted Dr Crow a charter for the Sublime Order of Holy Wisdom (Ekklesia Agiae Sophiae) that he had previously founded, and whose nature is discussed below. While Dr Crow hoped that Mar Frederic would consecrate him to the episcopate, his death in 1942 prevented this. In that year, Dr Crow happened to notice a letterhead at his printers that belonged to Abbot Hugh George de Willmott Newman (1905-79) of the Order of Corporate Reunion and Old Catholic Orthodox Church, and thus began an exchange of letters. Later that year, Dr Crow introduced Abbot de Willmott Newman to Mar Frederic’s friend Mar Jacobus II (Heard) (1866-1947), Patriarch of the Ancient British Church, who in due course performed the episcopal consecration of Dr Crow on 13 June 1943, designating him as Mar Bernard, Bishop of Santa Sophia. Dr Crow had obtained a release from the ministry of the Liberal Catholic Church in the same month. After the Council of London, Dr Crow’s episcopal designation was changed to that of Mar Basilius Abdullah III, Patriarch of Antioch in the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church.

Following the Council of London, Mar John Emmanuel (Arthur Wolfort Brooks (1889-1948), Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church[xii] and the Old Catholic Orthodox Church), who was Abbot de Willmott Newman’s Ordinary, suggested that Abbot de Willmott Newman should seek election to the episcopate as Archbishop and Metropolitan of Glastonbury. The Abbot was duly elected at a Pro-Synod of the OCOC on 8 October 1943 and a mandate signed by Mar John Emmanuel on 20 December was then sent to Mar Basilius Abdullah III authorising him to perform the consecration. On 23 March 1944, the agreement of Mar John Emmanuel having previously been obtained, a Deed of Declaration under Mar Jacobus II united the bodies known as the Ancient British Church, the Old Catholic Orthodox Church, the British Orthodox Catholic Church[xiii] and the Independent Catholic Church into a single organisation, to be called The Western Orthodox Catholic Church, which was then erected into the Catholicate of the West by Mar Basilius Abdullah III. These constituent bodies were churches that had a continued legal existence from their historic foundations, but at that point very few clergy and no significant lay membership. At a meeting of the Governing Synod of the new church on 28 March, under the presidency of Mar Jacobus II, de Willmott Newman was elected Catholicos of the West; he had also been separately elected to the episcopate by the Pro-Synod of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church. He was consecrated and enthroned as Mar Georgius by Mar Basilius Abdullah III on 10 April 1944, in the Cathedral Church of St Andrew, Stonebridge Road, Tottenham.

The Holy Patriarchal Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch met near Huddersfield between August and September 1944, and at this time agreed to the division of the Patriarchate into three Catholicates: that of the West (comprising Europe and America), under Mar Georgius; that of the East (comprising Asia), under Mar Basilius Abdullah III, and that of the South (comprising Africa) to which no appointment had yet been made. The Catholicates would in turn be divided into Exarchates; it was stated that “both the Patriarch and the Catholicoi will not interfere in the internal affairs of their respective subordinate jurisdictions, as it is desired to allow the fullest local autonomy and not to imitate the highly centralized Roman system. This principle of local autonomy is of course one of the outstanding features of Orthodoxy.”[xiv] On 29 January 1945, Mar Jacobus II resigned the office of British Patriarch (which originated in the lineage of Mar Julius of Iona (Ferrette)) in favour of Mar Georgius, who thus became the sixth head of the “oldest of all non-Ultramontane Catholic movements, for it was erected as long ago as 1866″[xv]. On 4 February 1945 the name Western Orthodox Catholic Church was relegated to an unofficial sub-title and the new name Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West) was adopted for the body under Mar Georgius.[xvi] As has been previously established, both the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and the British Patriarchate held a common position on faith, accepting the seven ecumenical councils. This was also the position of the Catholicate of the West, which further accepted the Declaration of Utrecht of 1889.[xvii] The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and the Catholicate of the West both rejected Monophysitism as heresy and, as Orthodox bodies, rejected the filioque.

Formal relations between the AEC and the Catholicate of the West were cemented when on 29 June 1944 the Catholicate made Mar John Emmanuel “a member with life seat in the Synod and named Titular Archbishop of Ebbsfleet, Kent,” also constituting him as Exarch of the Catholicate in the United States of America[xviii]. In turn, the AEC on 22 February 1945 appointed Mar Georgius as an Episcopal Member of the Synod, constituted a deputy, and empowered to represent the AEC in the British Isles[xix]. Mar John Emmanuel referred to this position as “the British-American Union of Christians of Orthodox Faith and Order”[xx] and had in 1944 submitted an explanatory memorandum concerning the Catholicate of the West both to President Roosevelt and to the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras[xxi]. Also in 1944, Mar Basilius Abdullah III had conferred upon Mar John Emmanuel the degree of Doctor of Sacred Scripture honoris causa of the Apostolic Academy of St Peter at Antioch, and appointed him a Legate to the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch.[xxii]

However, on 14 July 1945, Mar Georgius by agreement with Mar Basilius Abdullah III ended the ecclesiastical relationship that had existed between the Catholicate of the West and the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and placed the Catholicate of the West in a position of full autonomy[xxiii]. This termination of intercommunion did not involve a repudiation of those authorities previously bestowed on Mar Georgius, but it did mark the severance of ecclesiastical relations between the two jurisdictions. The subsequent vicissitudes of the Catholicate of the West have been discussed elsewhere. The cause for this action was cited as being divergent theological positions. However, this was not to prevent the two prelates from continuing a personal friendship, and for some years Mar Georgius served as Grand Scribe of the Order of the Holy Wisdom.

The actions of Mar Georgius did not affect the position of the Order of Antioch, which after 1945 was the only extant body to have been represented at the Council of London that was not subsequently absorbed into the Catholicate of the West. Although Mar Georgius served as Exarch of Britain for the Order from 1946, following the headship of Fr. Alfred Kaufmann[xxiv], the Order maintained its own government from the United States under Mar Timotheus II (Timothy Howard Ellsworth Mather (1896-1964)) and, from January 1964 onwards, under his successor Prince-Abbot Edmond II of San Luigi (George Arvid Edmond Lyman (1938-98)). The Order remained in communion with both the Ancient Catholic Orthodox Church and the Catholicate of the West, and in view of the resolutions of the Council of London electing him Patriarch of Antioch for the Western missions, Mar Basilius Abdullah III occupied a position of great significance for those of the Vilatte succession.

The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church was defined as the religious section of the Order of the Holy Wisdom. The other two sections of the Order were the Universal Spiritual Kingdom, concerned with the noblesse and with chivalric activities, and the Ancient Universal Rite of Cosmic Architecture, which maintained a planetary and zodiacal temple of the universal religion, and conferred initiation upon suitable candidates. This last section incorporated the Institute of Cosmic Studies, founded by Dr Crow and Major[xxv] E.J. Langford-Garstin, MC, in 1934. The Order of Holy Wisdom was “not a Church, but an organisation within the Universal Church, which seeks to reproduce, as fully as possible within its own sphere, for the benefit of its members and humanity in general, the deep spiritual experience enshrined in ritual and symbols. It is particularly concerned with cosmic symbolism. It endeavours to teach the doctrines and practices of the Ancient Wisdom Religion, and to preserve such knowledge of value which has largely disappeared in the historical development of outer institutions. Being absolutely universal (that is truly Orthodox and Catholic) it has access to the divine wisdom of Theosophy, embodied in the symbols of all nations. It utilizes the knowledge passed on in the great streams of sacred tradition, not excluding those of the Far East, the Brahminic-Yogic, the Ancient Egyptian, Zoroastrian-Magian, Kabalistic, Gnostic-Masonic, Gothic-Rosicrucian, Druidic-Bacchic, Chaldean, Buddhist-Lamaistic, and Islamic-Sufic. It has, however, no connection with any existing Masonic or Rosicrucian fraternity”.[xxvi]

Writing in 1966, Dr Crow defined its objectives further as “to preserve and maintain the symbolism of all the great religions of the world, including those, like the Ancient Egyptian, which are no longer practised. To maintain and promote the titles, rights and just privileges of nobility and chivalry. To cultivate the arts and especially to encourage the crafts in relation to religious symbolism. To study and develop the natural methods of healing. To study heraldry, genealogy, and the arcane sciences. To oppose, by all legal methods, materialism, rationalism, modernism and the mechanisation of human life.”[xxvii] Dr Crow developed his own Mass of the Planets, based upon the Liberal Catholic rite, and relating both planetary and elemental symbols to the Church’s liturgy. The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church was steadfast in its rejection of Monophysitism, which had formed a key pillar of the Council of London, and of its rejection of anti-papal and Jansenist sentiment such as was found in certain Old Catholic groups. The decentralization seemingly heralded by the Second Vatican Council was welcomed, while its modernism was condemned.[xxviii] A page of “Aletheia” is devoted to a rejection of Gnostic heresies, while making clear that, by contrast, St Clement of Alexandria and St Hippolytus were “perfectly orthodox gnostics in the sense that they expounded the real meanings of difficult passages in scripture.”[xxix] A similar rejection of various Rosicrucian heresies occupies a later edition[xxx]. Of the clergy, deacons and priests were permitted to marry, but only before ordination.

During his years of retirement in the 1960s, Dr Crow was able to devote himself more fully to the Order and to his interests, and established the Naos of the Holy Wisdom at his home in Woodford Green. In 1966 he founded the periodical “Aletheia” which acted as an outlet for news and views of the Order. His writing for “Aletheia” is trenchant and expressed with the clarity of the scientific thinker, holding no difficulty in reconciling science and religion. Dr Crow was possessed of an intellectual ability that was far removed from the narrowness of a number of churchmen of his time, and that enabled him to deal in a subtle and nuanced way with diverse beliefs and matters of doctrine that in lesser hands would have become confused and contradictory. He was capable of understanding ideas on their own terms and assessing them in an objective and fair manner, rather than being unduly influenced by intellectual fads or establishment notions of respectability. Not unsurprisingly, his outlook was not always appreciated by those who did not share his breadth of vision, and his enjoyment of administering shocks to the spiritually complacent was not always received in the intellectually playful spirit in which it was meant. We might note the comment with which he introduced a tersely-argued piece, “It is reported that giving honour to certain saints has been abandoned on the grounds they never existed. This is a very narrow-minded attitude.”[xxxi] The pages of “Aletheia” also reveal some notably Traditionalist views; Oswald Spengler is referenced approvingly and in referring to various notices received of events and conferences, Dr Crow says, “Favourite themes are “democracy”, “peace”, “metaphysics”, “planning”, “progress”, “integration”, “unity”, etc. These are all symptoms of intense mental disturbance. The problems which these unfortunates are trying to solve have all been mastered by the theologians and philosophers of the Middle Ages and the early Christian days, not to mention in the profound wisdom of the Orientals.”[xxxii]

Dr Crow’s associates at this time included the jurist Dr Vincent Powell-Smith (1934-97)[xxxiii] and Dr David W.T.C. Vessey[xxxiv]. As of the mid-1960s Dr Vessey was completing his PhD at Cambridge. With their assistance and encouragement, Dr Crow engaged in widespread support for monarchist causes, including contact with a number of descendants of formerly reigning Royal Houses. Through this work, the Order of Holy Wisdom was recognized by H.I.H. Prince Guillermo III de Grau-Moctezuma, pretender to the Mexican imperial throne, as well as the pretender to the throne of Cappadocia-Armenia. A particularly valued alliance was with H.I.M. Marziano II Lavarello of Constantinople, pretender to the Byzantine and Serbian thrones, who was described as “one of our most distinguished honorary members”[xxxv]. In 1968 came a Treaty of Friendship with the House of Paterno, pretenders to the throne of Aragon.

Ecumenical links were also established, and as well as recognition by the Catholicate of the West, the Order maintained relations with the Primitive Apostolic Orthodox Church of the Syro-Byzantine Tradition under Patriarch Mar Joannes Maria (Jan Frederik Nico Blom van Assendelft-Altland) (1923-2008)[xxxvi]. It was Mar Joannes Maria who had presided over the coronation of H.I.M. Marziano II Lavarello in Rome in 1956, with Mar Basilius Abdullah and Mar Georgius among the signatories to the ecclesiastical protocols and all documents authenticated by the International College of Arms of the Noblesse[xxxvii]. There were also connexions with the Indian Orthodox Church (under Bishop Joseph K. Chengalvaroyan Pillai (1901-70), who was in relations with the Catholicate of the West until 1947), the Hungarian Old Catholic Church (through its British Vicar-General, Bishop Rupert Pitt-Kethley (1907-75)) and the Orthodox Old Catholic Church. Bishop Pitt-Kethley was in 1967 appointed by Dr Crow as Hierarch of the Cilician Patriarchate of the Order and a Vartabed of the First Class. In 1972, as a result of an introduction by H.I.M. Marciano II, mutual recognition was established with the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle under its Ecclesiast, the Most Revd. Prince Kermit W. Poling (see below) and the Holy Church of Serbia under Patriarch Peter I (Pierre Pasleau).

However, these links were at all times undertaken within the spirit and mission of the Order. Dr Crow wrote, “On several occasions, our Grand Master, as Patriarch of the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, has been asked to take over the headship of so-called autocephalous rites of what are claimed to be branches of the Catholic Church. He has not accepted these offers for the following reasons: (i) because the Catholic Church is already represented by the Roman Church and various branches of the Eastern Orthodox; (ii) because it is impossible with the small organization which we possess, to deal with the vast problem of control over such bodies, which are best dealt with under the aforesaid branches; (iii) because it would be a waste of time and energy trying to compete with the aforesaid bodies; (iv) because the work of our Order has the very special character of discovering the truth about the Church through the study of sacred tradition, and this can only be done by small groups of dedicated persons who are in a position to devote themselves to this object, without thought of reward in this life.”[xxxviii] There were regular appeals for assistance with the work of the Order from those interested in it, but it was emphasised throughout that its mission was entirely non-material and that donations of money were not welcome.

The Order itself grew through the appointment of chaplains to the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and honorary bishops, generally based overseas. John Trollnas, Exarch of Scandinavia of the the Primitive Apostolic Orthodox Church of the Syro-Byzantine Tradition, was appointed an honorary prelate of the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church in 1968. He was granted a charter by Dr Crow for the Northern Pontifical Academy, a degree granting organisation, in the same year[xxxix]. Within England, there were four oratories attached to the Order in operation by 1969, although the provision of public worship was never a key aim of the Order.

The work and membership of the Order, unlike that of the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, was not restricted to orthodox Christians. A close collaboration was secured with the Druid Order under Dr Thomas L. Maughan (1901-76) and Dr Crow lectured on a number of occasions for the Druids. Between 1944 and 1947, Dr Crow corresponded with the occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), later stating that, according to what Crowley had told him, Crowley’s Gnostic Mass was written “under the influence of the Liturgy of St. Basil of the Russian Church.”[xl] In August 1944, Crowley issued a document to Dr Crow making him a Sovereign Patriarch of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica and Vicar of Salomon “with full right, power and authority to administer the said Church and to consecrate, ordein, appoint hyrarchs, priests, priestesses, deacons and other necessary Officers therein, to work the Gnostic Catholic Mass, and to take charge of all ceremonials, organisational, and financial affairs in connection therewith.”[xli] In the same year, Dr Crow issued a Manifesto for Crowley’s E.G.C. inviting any who were interested to contact him for further information. Crowley wrote to Dr Crow “You might of course start afresh; begin by open-air preachings of Liber Oz; you might find supporters in unexpected quarters, the work and opportunity would grow; in a year you might be standing for Parliament.”[xlii] In a letter of 30 May 1947 Crowley advised Dr Crow (who had in 1945 moved from London to Leicester) to refer his followers in the London district who were ready for initiation in the O.T.O. to the London-based Gerald Gardner, who was to receive his O.T.O. authority from Crowley on 14 June. Writing some years later, Dr Crow would say that Crowley held that his principle “Do what thou wilt’ did not mean ‘do as you please’. He was, he said, trying to teach people to find their true will. In other words he was trying to do what many practitioners of depth psychology are aiming at.”[xliii]

On 16 August 1948, Dr Crow was enthroned as head of the (Masonic[xliv]) Orders of Memphis and Misraim and of the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of Oriental Templars)[xlv]. This followed correspondence with Crowley during 1944-46 in which Dr Crow and Mar Georgius, together with Bishop George H. Brook (1912-88) (who as Mar Adrianus was a bishop of the Catholicate of the West until his resignation in 1948 and would remain an associate of Dr Crow for many years) unsuccessfully requested that Crowley should charter them to confer the Rites of Memphis and Misraim.[xlvi]

The Order had a series of Guilds attached as a means of organizing its work. The Guild of St Pegasius was devoted to providing transport for members to attend meetings and for the transport of objects required for ceremonies or studies. The Guild of St Veronica was open to those working in painting, needlework, embroidery, carving, metalwork, sculpture and architecture. The Guild of St Agatha was devoted to music, while the Guild of St Mercurius formed the Secretariat, concerned with registration and the obtaining of rare books from libraries. Dr Frank Wooldridge served as Secretary-General whilst Dr David Vessey and Ludovic Haber were among those who served in the office of Assistant Secretary.

Chivalric and heraldic work took several forms, emphasising strongly their roots in the traditions of the Church. The Order of Montsalvat of the Holy Grail was a revival of the cult of the Grail limited to twelve members, and part of the Keriat section of Grail-related activities. The Order of the Keltic Cross was also awarded by Dr Crow[xlvii]. The Sacred Antiochene Order of Saints Peter and Paul was otherwise the principal chivalric order associated with Dr Crow’s Patriarchate and he bestowed this on valued associates both at home and abroad. In 1967 it was announced that “the Chevalier William H. Newman-Norton has been appointed Phoenix Herald and Genealogist of our Antiochean Patriarchate”.[xlviii] Another herald was Bruce Senior, former President of the Yorkshire Numismatist Society, who died in 1968. An invitation was sent to members who had not recorded their coats of arms and genealogies to send these in, since “we believe in the variety of individuals and wish to encourage anything that tends to prevent them from being brought to a common denominator.”[xlix]

In 1969, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession as Patriarch, Dr Crow revised the structure of the Order, whereby it was maintained as an independent organisation belonging to the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, and the whole of his organization was now referred to under the title Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom. This was comprised of three sections: (1) Hierurgic, consisting of the Order of the Holy Wisdom; (2) Arcane, existing for the study of myth, legend and symbolism, and the practice of initiation; and (3) Temporal, “this aims at preserving civilising influences of ancient and medieval times, maintaining titles and usages of nobility and chivalry, studying and recording heraldic devices and modes of natural therapy.”[l] To mark the anniversary, a number of prelates were appointed to various offices serving the different divisions of the organization, which included at that time a Catholic Rosy Cross and a Divan of Justice. Some of Dr Crow’s Rosicrucian links were via the Most Revd. the Prince Dupont-de Gols, who was the successor of Sar Peladan who had formed the Catholic Rosy Cross in 1894. The Prince had been admitted to what was now the Apostolate in 1965. In addition, Dr Crow had issued a charter for the Order of Stella Matutina to the Societas Rosicruciana in America in 1951[li].

The Apostolate offered classes in-person to the public under the Institute of Cosmic Studies (the material world), the Institute of Natural Therapy (healing methods of various kinds) and the Institute of Arcane Studies (occult studies). Tuition was free of charge but candidates were asked to cover the costs of providing the talks. In 1973 the three Institutes were consolidated into the Institute of Cosmic Studies.

Dr Crow’s many accomplishments might have made a lesser man insufferably pompous, but by contrast he was modest and unassuming in manner. As age approached he became more frail. Following a fall and some months of illness he died at 1.30 am on 28 June 1976, half an hour after the death of his friend Dr Thomas Maughan of the Druid Order.


Dr Crow’s will was made on 10 April 1963 and left his entire estate to his widow. He had received the Last Rites from a Roman Catholic Priest and directed that he should be buried according to the rites of the Catholic Church, “preferably under the auspices of the Order of Holy Wisdom”. An important provision of the will was his direction that “all my certificates and diplomas shall be burned, or returned to the owners thereof if not my property.”[lii] There were in addition some extraordinary instructions directing that his body should lay undisturbed for three days, and then that two surgeons should independently certify him to be dead. Having done this, the surgeons were directed to perform such actions as would ensure life to become extinct even if he were not already dead. Perhaps in the course of his ritual work, Dr Crow had encountered something that caused him to believe that these provisions were necessary.

After Dr Crow’s death, it was reported by the then-Fr. Seraphim Newman-Norton that on 11 September 1975 Dr Crow had surrendered all his ecclesiastical offices to Mar Georgius, receiving in return the honorary See of S. Sophia in the British Patriarchate with the title of Patriarch ad personam. To Fr. Newman-Norton he passed his secular offices, including the Grand Mastership of the Order of the Holy Wisdom “confident that I would keep them alive in honour of his memory.”[liii]

However, the agenda that soon became apparent was that these “successors” were in fact determined to suppress the Order’s work and to destroy the aims which Dr Crow had stood for. The view might well have been taken that Dr Crow had been deceived and deliberately kept unaware of a number of highly relevant developments. To elucidate this, we will explain further.

The context of this transmission of authorities was not entirely straightforward. In 1967, Mar Georgius had suffered the defection of a number of his clergy, who formed their own communion for a time, and those clergy who remained loyal to him “urged upon me…that our Church would have no future unless it secured communion with and recognition by what they described as a ‘canonical Orthodox church’, and that, to achieve this, certain further reforms were necessary, including the abolition of the [British] Patriarchate and of ‘open communion’”[liv] Mar Georgius writes that “my advisers sincerely held the opinion that unless I acceded to them, their lack of confidence in our Church’s future would cause them eventually, if not immediately, to secede to one or other of the ‘canonical Orthodox churches’ represented in this country. My first inclination was to reject the proposals, and, if necessary, to ‘go it alone’, awaiting further intimation from the Lord as to His will. But…I did not feel that our Church as a whole could survive another split so soon after the [1967] schism. I saw no way of bringing my advisers round to my way of thinking, for my past experience had taught me that when an old man gives an opinion based on years of experience, young enthusiasts will inevitably feel in the zeal of youth that he is merely being obstructive and obstinate. Accordingly, I decided to let them have their way, agreed to the abolition of the Patriarchate, and other items, and to make an approach to Bishop Jean Kovalevsky, Primate of the Catholic Orthodox Church in France.”[lv] Writing in 1970, Mar Georgius spoke of the desire of “arriving at terms of organic unity with the Holy Orthodox Churches of the East, with whom we have always been in full dogmatic agreement. To remove all which might be a cause of offence to our Eastern brethren in the Faith, or an obstacle to our apert unity with them, has necessitated certain drastic actions, as a result of which an entirely new vision of our Church has been erected.”[lvi] This of course was a departure of the most comprehensive kind from the Western Orthodoxy which had been upheld through the Ancient British Church and its sister organizations during more than a century. Although it did not at this stage involve any suggestion of heresy, it was nevertheless a forsaking of the roots of Mar Georgius’s mission that would make that possibility more likely in the future. At the suggestion of Bishop Kovalevsky, the title “Western Orthodox” was abandoned and that of “The Orthodox Church of the British Isles” substituted.[lvii] As of 3 February 1970 a new Trust Deed for the OCBI was drawn up and submitted for registration.

We shall leave for discussion elsewhere the issue of the continuity of the Catholicate of the West and whether the jurisdiction that was under Mar Georgius until 1969 was the same entity as that to which he had been elected in 1944 – our conclusion is that it was not, and that the jurisdiction of 1944 had since 1953 been vested in other clergy. But his Personal Statement leaves no doubt as to the context in which the decisions as to the direction of the last decade of his pontificate were made and it makes explicit that those decisions certainly did not originate with him and were contrary to his own views. Indeed, it is difficult to escape the impression that those younger clergy who were advising Mar Georgius were in fact entirely opposed to the Catholicate of the West and much that Mar Georgius had stood for through the preceding decades. There could certainly be no doubt as to the canonicity of Mar Georgius’s jurisdiction of 1944, and if other Orthodox jurisdictions chose not to recognize it as canonical then that must be accounted as an act of injustice.[lviii]

Against this background, on 25 February 1967, Mar Georgius had initiated a “General Council of the Catholicate of the West, to be called the Second Council of London”.[lix] This assembly in the event did not complete its work until 1975, and its decrees were not ratified and confirmed by Mar Georgius until 30 December 1978.[lx] Moreover, we are told that “out of respect for [Dr Crow], its decisions were not made public at the time.”[lxi] This is significant, for those decisions included the wholesale rejection of the decrees of the 1943 Council of London which had formed the entire basis for Dr Crow’s work as well as that of the Catholicate of the West. We are told that the “Second Council of London” concluded that the 1943 Council of London had “in its enthusiasm” acted “uncanonically” and “clearly exceeded its authority” in deposing the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch for schism and electing Dr Crow to the vacant Patriarchate. The assembly held that he should “correctly” have been merely “Patriarch over the western extensions of the Antiochene Patriarchate”.

From our perspective, these conclusions are not merely to be regretted but should be rejected in a definitive manner. This is not to say that Mar Georgius and his clergy did not have every right to decide for themselves in the 1970s that they wished to repudiate the 1943 Council of London, however belated and even unprincipled such an act would inevitably appear. They could not, however, at once repudiate the Council’s key decisions and yet still claim the jurisdictional authority which the Council had previously bestowed upon their clergy and mission until the termination of intercommunion in 1945, since the latter was entirely dependent upon the former. Moreover, their actions could not bind the Order of Antioch, which was the only body officially represented at the 1943 Council of London that was not subsequently absorbed into the Catholicate of the West. Neither the Order of Antioch, nor, it would appear, Dr Crow and the Order of the Holy Wisdom, were officially represented at the 1967 assembly[lxii].

So far as the basis for Dr Crow’s acts during his Patriarchate is concerned there seems no room for doubt; the authority cited on his official documentation is “the powers vested in Us by the Council of London 1943, by our Charter, Constitution and Official Acts and of all other powers Us hereunto enabling.”[lxiii] None of the available evidence suggests that his position on these matters changed at any point, although in his last years, we are told that he had become “less cogent, forgetful and repetitive”[lxiv]. It is therefore in the light of all the foregoing factors that we should consider his reported decisions of 11 September 1975 and the campaign of falsehoods that we expose below.

Refutation of material on the website of Peter Koenig

The writer Peter-Robert Koenig has authored an extensive research website which is polemical in nature against the “O.T.O. Phenomenon”, Aleister Crowley and his followers[lxv]. Such matters are beyond the scope of this paper, although we note in passing that Koenig’s understanding of theology and ordination in a Christian context is markedly defective. For our purposes, we are concerned only with the comments that are reported by Koenig concerning Dr Crow and the Prince Kermit Poling de Polanie-Patrikios of West Virginia, USA, and in particular with exposing those aspects of these comments that are provably false.

On this website a dialogue between Koenig and David Scriven is reproduced and in the course of this, an email of 31 January 1997 from Fr. Gregory Tillett to Koenig is quoted[lxvi]. Fr. Tillett was at that time both a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Australia and of the British Orthodox Church (then a diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate), which latter body had been under Mar Seraphim as Metropolitan since its union with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate on 19 March 1994. The union between the British Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate was terminated on 5 October 2015, at which point it would follow that Fr. Tillett and the former Metropolitan Seraphim ceased to be in communion with each other. According to Koenig, Fr. Tillett has asserted that he became “Deputy Grand Master of the Order [of the Holy Wisdom] in 1979”.[lxvii]

This email states,

“My comments on Poling come on the basis of a thorough search of (1) the archives of William Bernard Crow and (2) the archives of Mar Georgius. These contain, amongst other things, very extensive and detailed correspondence between Crow and Mar Georgius in which they discuss church matters. The name of Poling does not occur anywhere in the archives. Nor does Mar Seraphim, who was successor to both Mar Georgius in his church and to Crow in the Order of the Holy Wisdom (and was a close friend of Crow in his latter years), know anything of Poling, let alone of his alleged consecration. Crow never travelled to the USA, so presumably the consecration must have occurred in London. If it did so, none of those associated with Crow (including members of his clergy) knew of it, and no record of it appeared in Crow’s papers, his letters to Mar Georgius, or the publications of the Order of the Holy Wisdom (which reported all his other church activities). I suppose such a consecration is possible, but it seems to me very highly improbable, and, unless Poling can produce a convincing document in support of his claim, I would conclude it did not happen.”

A further communication from Tillett is quoted in the course of the same dialogue,

“Dr. Crow conferred no authority on Ronald Powell, nor, it should be mentioned, did he consecrate to the episcopate or confer authority on a man named Polding [sic] who claims to have been consecrated by Dr. Crow. This claim is repeated in a number of books.”

To this can be added Tillett’s statement in a book review in the Glastonbury Bulletin (vol. VII no. 85, October 1993, p.81),

“…a claim made by Kermit Poling to have been consecrated by Crow. Unfortunately for Poling, this is not true and no evidence exists to even suggest such a consecration….Crow’s archives are now in the possession of Mar Seraphim and have been carefully searched for any such reference.”

Let us proceed to examine the truth of Fr. Tillett’s statements with the aid of documentation that is now in the archive of the Western Orthodox University.

Firstly, we should recall that the introduction of Prince Kermit to Dr Crow was made via the Emperor Marziano II, who forwarded a letter from Prince Kermit to Dr Crow enquiring about membership in the Order of the Holy Wisdom. In response to this, Dr Crow wrote to Prince Kermit inviting him to accept the position of honorary bishop. This communication, of which the original is in our archive, is sealed with Dr Crow’s Privy Seal and is reproduced at fig. 1.

Fig. 1: MS letter from Dr Crow to Prince Kermit Poling

The position of honorary bishop in the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom was a means of appointing to that organization those who were already substantive bishops in other churches, and establishing intercommunion with their jurisdictions while respecting their canonical boundaries. Pace Dr Bertil Persson, there is no evidence to hand that suggests that Dr Crow, who maintained an Orthodox theology of Holy Orders, ever purported to “consecrate” men to the episcopate merely by means of a postal ceremony[lxviii]. In the case of honorary bishops in the Order (later Apostolate) of the Holy Wisdom, such as Pierre Pasleau and John Trollnas, these men had already received valid Apostolic consecration before their appointments, and served in other communions. Indeed, in a letter to Prince Kermit that will be reproduced below, Dr Crow states very clearly “We do not confer honorary bishoprics as the episcopate involves long personal training and ordination and consecration…”[lxix] It is perfectly clear from Dr Crow’s address to Prince Kermit in the document at fig. 1 that Dr Crow recognized Prince Kermit’s existing Orthodox episcopal status, which derived from his consecration by H.B. Peter Andrew Zhurawetsky, Patriarch of the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First Called Apostle and of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Patriarchate of America.

Prince Kermit accepted Dr Crow’s invitation. However, it was also arranged that he would be consecrated sub conditione by Dr Crow for the purpose of additional commissioning and accorded the designation Mar Titus. This consecration took place on 11 April 1972, at Dr Crow’s domestic oratory of the Holy Wisdom, located at 78, Broadmead Road, Woodford Green, Essex, and was witnessed by Dr Frank Wooldridge, whose signature appears on the Instrument of Consecration. A photograph of Dr Crow and Prince Kermit was taken and this, together with a photocopy of the Instrument of Consecration, was reproduced in the journal of the House Polanie-Patrikios, “The Excubitor”.[lxx]

Fig. 2: Reproduction of photograph of Dr Crow (left) and Prince Kermit Poling and Instrument of Consecration of Prince Kermit by Dr Crow, as published in “The Excubitor”

A clear and legible replica copy of the above Instrument of Consecration, which bears Dr Crow’s Great Seal, is given below.

Fig. 3: Replica copy of the original Instrument of Consecration of Prince Kermit Poling by Dr Crow.

On 19 September 1972, Dr Crow wrote again to Prince Kermit further clarifying matters concerning his status:

Fig. 4: MS letter from Dr Crow to Prince Kermit Poling, 19 September 1972.

This letter, which addresses Prince Kermit by the designation Mar Titus that had been bestowed on him by Dr Crow, makes clear that Prince Kermit was also an Honorary Member of the Order of the Holy Wisdom. Having been offered membership in the Sacred Antiochene Order of Saints Peter and Paul, Prince Kermit accepted and was then admitted on 7 October 1972.

Fig. 5: Instrument of conferral of knighthood in the Sacred Antiochene Order of Saints Peter and Paul by Dr Crow upon Prince Kermit Poling, 7 October 1972.

The Christmas 1972 edition of the official bulletin of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom, “Aletheia”, records the mutual recognition between Dr Crow and Prince Kermit and their respective jurisdictions:

Fig. 5: “Aletheia”, no. 15 (no. 3 2nd Series), Christmas 1972, pages 1 and 2.

We note also that the OCBI is included in the list of jurisdictions in intercommunion published above, which would appear to indicate that the 1945 breach with Mar Georgius had been healed at some point, at least so far as Dr Crow was concerned.

Nor are these the only items of evidence germane to the relationship between Dr Crow and Prince Kermit. Dr Crow also carried out a correspondence with Prince Kermit’s father-in-law, Count Dorsey P. Groves, and a letter from him with its envelope is preserved in our archive:

Fig. 6: Letter and envelope from Dr Crow to Count Dorsey P. Groves, postmarked 10 May 1972.

When Prince Kermit’s son Prince Mikael Erik was born, he was the recipient of a card conveying Dr Crow’s Apostolic Benediction:

Fig. 7: Card of Dr Crow on the birth of Prince Mikael Erik Poling, donated to the WOU archive with the kind agreement of the Prince.

Nor have the institutions to which Dr Crow appointed Prince Kermit been idle. The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church continued under his aegis as a private dynastic communion based in West Virginia, USA, merging with the Christian Orthodox Church (a dynastic ekklesia of the Byelorussian nobility), while the Order of the Holy Wisdom maintained a Grand Circle in America, perpetuating the degrees of the Order and admitting new members. Some of the documentation concerning these activities is reproduced below:

Figs. 8 and 9: Informational publications of the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church and the Order of the Holy Wisdom – Grand Circle in America

Prince Kermit reported that he received a communication from England after Dr Crow’s death purporting to suppress the Order. This he rightly ignored. When in 1994 the Orthodox Church of the British Isles entered into union with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, it thereby formally repudiated the Eastern Orthodox position on faith of the Ancient Catholic Orthodox Church and, from the position of that latter church, lapsed into heresy. It will be obvious that under these conditions, the clergy and laity concerned had through their actions abandoned any purportedly valid claim to the patrimony or representation of the Ancient Catholic Orthodox Church and to its dependent Apostolate and Order of the Holy Wisdom. Eventually, Prince Kermit was left as the only remaining member of clergy of the Apostolate and Order of the Holy Wisdom and as the de facto Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Wisdom, having carried on its work uninterrupted for some forty-three years.

Since the death of Prince Kermit Poling in March 2015, the aforementioned organizations have been in union with the Catholicate of the West, thus restoring the position of some seventy years previously. They have continued their work under the aegis of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, serving their small but select existing membership and appointing new members, with the support of Dr Crow’s family. History will record that the attempt to suppress the Order and destroy Dr Crow’s work was a miserable failure, miring those involved in a series of lies and deceptions that are hardly befitting the office of the clergy.


[i] This body, although similarly named, was not historically connected with the Apostolic Episcopal Church and was instead a reformed continuation of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church.

[ii] The Presiding Bishop of this body was Mar John Emmanuel, Founder and Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. It was derived from that portion of the church established under Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew that had rejected the new ultramontane constitution promulgated by his successor Archbishop Bernard Mary Williams (1889-1952) in 1925.

[iii] Jansenism was specifically mentioned as it appears to have affected certain groups in this country claiming to be Old Catholic or Old Roman Catholic. It may be that the Old Roman Catholic Rite under Archbishop Bernard Mary Williams was particularly intended here.

[iv] “The name was chosen to commemorate the Kingship of Christ. St. Ignatius continues, of course, to be held in high honour.”

[v] Patriarchate of Antioch: Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, 1943.

[vi] Mar Seraphim, Flesh of Our Brethren, London, The British Orthodox Press, 2009, p.83. See also Mar Seraphim (as Seraphim Newman-Norton), Fitly Framed Together, Glastonbury, Metropolitical Press, 1976, p.5 “Although the Jacobites were alleged to accept the Monophysite heresy, Bishop Julius stood by the faith of the seven oecumenical councils.”

[vii] Copy of (second) Instrument of Consecration in the Archive of the Western Orthodox University.

[viii] An autographed copy of this thesis is today in the Archive of the WOU.

[ix] The present Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church taught briefly at the same institution many years later, though none of the staff there then had known Dr Crow.

[x] It was removed from that work in the latter year as a result of Anglican pressure.

[xi] This information is to be found in a table of succession in the archive of the WOU.

[xii] Based in New York and recognized by legislative charter of the State there in 1932.

[xiii] This church was the portion of the movement founded by Archbishop Churchill Sibley that was subsequently presided over by Mar Frederic (Harrington), until his death in 1942.

[xiv] Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 5, Aug-Sept. 1944, p.24

[xv] However, this canonical act was not made effective within the Catholicate of the West until ratification by its Holy Governing Synod on 11 April 1946.

[xvi] Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 nos. 7&8, Feb. 1945, p.33

[xvii] Glastonbury Confession, Glastonbury, Catholic Apostolic Church, 2nd Edition, 1960, pp.15-16.

[xviii] See, inter alia, Hieratica, October 1947, p.11

[xix] Document of appointment in the archive of the WOU.

[xx] Letterhead of Mar John Emmanuel in use during 1945.

[xxi] Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 5, Aug-Sept. 1944, p.26

[xxii] See announcement of the former in the Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 3, June 1944, p.13

[xxiii] Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 10, June-Aug. 1945, p.41

[xxiv] Fr. Kaufmann had been appointed Archpresbyter and head of the Order in Britain by Exarch Mar Timotheus II on 21 March 1939. He subsequently left Britain to live in his native Australia.

[xxv] Then Captain.

[xxvi] Order of the Holy Wisdom (Ekklesia Agiae Sophiae), Order of the Holy Wisdom, 1943.

[xxvii] Aletheia, no. 1, Christmas 1966, p.4

[xxviii] Pastoral letter of the Ordo Sanctae Sophiae, Easter 1966. Particular objection was made to compromise with Anglicans, since it was held that they had lost the Apostolic Succession and that certain of the Thirty-Nine Articles were “obnoxious and doubtful in varying degrees”.

[xxix] Aletheia, no. 10, Feast of All Saints, 1968, p.2

[xxx] Aletheia, no. 11, Candlemas 1969, pp.2-3

[xxxi] Aletheia, no. 1, 2nd Series, Feast of the Holy Wisdom, 30 September 1971, p.2

[xxxii] Aletheia, no. 7, Easter 1968, p.2

[xxxiii] He was the protegé of Mar Marcus Valerius (John Edward Bazille-Corbin) (1887-1964), sometime founder of the Monarchist League, and later became a deacon under Mar Georgius.

[xxxiv] An Old Etonian who was both a distinguished classical scholar and for a time a priest in the short-lived Old Catholic Rite (Great Britain and Ireland). He died in 2008.

[xxxv] Aletheia, no. 1., Christmas 1966, p.2

[xxxvi] In 1974 he was received as a bishop into the Coptic Orthodox Church and subsequently became Metropolitan of France in that church.

[xxxvii] This was established as a body asserting its inheritance of the rights of the French-Canadian nobility at the 1925 International Convocation of the Noblesse de Race and had previously been incorporated into the Catholicate of the West. In 1953 its heirship had correctly devolved upon the heirs to the Catholicate of the West in India and the United States of America, but Mar Georgius nonetheless established a new organization under the same name. As of 1968 Mar Georgius was its Supreme Herald Marshal and the Chevalier William H.H. Newman-Norton G.C.T.L. (this postnominal presumably refers to the Grand Cross of the Teutonic Order of the Levant) was Registrar.

[xxxviii] Aletheia, no. 8, Feast of the Holy Grail, 1968, p.1

[xxxix] Copy of Charter in the archives of the WOU.

[xl] W.B. Crow, A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism, London, Aquarian Press, 1968, p.289

[xli] Copy of document at

[xlii] Quoted in Hymenaeus Beta, The Magical Link, Official Bulletin of the O.T.O., vol. 3 no. 4, Winter 1990, pp.25-30.

[xliii] Aletheia, Second Series, no. 2, Christmas 1971, p.3

[xliv] These Rites were under the aegis of John Yarker (1833-1913) and his associate Theodor Reuss (1855-1923), who succeeded as Grand Master in 1913. They are considered clandestine by mainstream Freemasonry. Reuss was founder and head of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Crowley proclaimed himself head of the O.T.O. on 27 November 1921 in contravention of Reuss, who had become antipathetic to Crowley and Thelema in his last years.

[xlv] See copy of document at “On 16th August, 1948, the Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Wisdom, having previously been duly elected in accordance with the constitution and regulations was enthroned and crowned as Grand Hierophant of the Rite of Memphis, Absolute Grand Sovereign of the Rite of Mizraim, Supreme Power of the Order and of all Rites included therein and allied cognate affiliated Orders and Rites in a Temple near London…All the rites in question have been placed under the sub-division of the Arcane section of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom, known as the Ancient and Universal Rite of Cosmic Architecture, which previously included material of this type, but which is now established on an impregnable basis and can be worked in a vastly fuller range than heretofore.”

[xlvi] These letters are in the Gerald Yorke collection at the Warburg Institute in London.

[xlvii] The Surrealist painter and author Ithell Colquhoun (1906-88) was among its members.

[xlviii] Aletheia, no. 3, Pentecost 1967, p.1

[xlix] Aletheia, no. 4, Feast of the Holy Wisdom 1967, p.1

[l] Aletheia, New Series no. 1, Feast of the Holy Wisdom, September 1971, p.9

[li] Archbishop Francis C. Spataro of the Apostolic Episcopal Church remembers this charter being displayed on the wall at the former S.R.I.A. headquarters, 321 W. 101st St., New York, by Mother Serena (Gladys de Witow Plummer), then-head of the S.R.I.A.

[lii] Copy of Will in the archive of the WOU.

[liii] Fr. Seraphim Newman-Norton, Obituary of Dr Crow in Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 43, July 1976, On 28 February 1979, Mar Georgius died and Fr. Newman-Norton, who had on 9 July 1977 been episcopally consecrated as Mar Seraphim, succeeded him. Previously, in Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 28, 27 Sept. 1973, p.101, Fr. Newman-Norton had authored an article highly critical of chivalric orders, concluding that “we cannot but regret the time and money devotedly poured out on such enterprises while the activities of the Church are still poorly subsidised or supported.” But see note xxxvii above.

[liv] Mar Georgius, A Personal Statement, Metropolitical Press, Glastonbury, 1971, pp.9-10. Note also Judith Pinnington, Heir of Mar Georgius and Servant of God’s Future (a profile of Mar Seraphim) in Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 54, July 1979, p.73 “Thus he found himself drawn into [Mar Georgius’s] church at a time when his predominant intellectual interests might otherwise have drawn him to the Rome of Vatican II. The friends whom in turn he introduced to Mar Georgius’ circle were of the same cast of mind…”

[lv] Ibid.

[lvi] Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 1, 12 March 1970, p.1

[lvii] Ibid.

[lviii] In the event, the changes agreed during the late 1960s did not solve the problem of recognition, and in 1980 the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church ordained to the diaconate in unconditional form a former priest of the OCBI, bringing forth significant protest. See Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 57, June 1980, p.151 and pp.141-147. Nor did these changes avert further schism, for in 1967 they had caused the Archdiocese of Antwerp under Archbishop Thomas-Mary Lutgen to secede from Mar Georgius’s jurisdiction, and that body remained in schism for almost ten years before eventually being reconciled on 20 April 1977.

[lix] Mar Georgius, ibid., p.8.

[lx] See copy of Memorial of Ratification published in Mar Ignatius Peter (Smethurst), Ignorance is Bliss, Metropolitical Press, Glastonbury, 1985, p.9.

[lxi] Mar Seraphim, Obituary of Mar Georgius in Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 53, May 1979, p.63.

[lxii] Prince-Abbot Edmond II de San Luigi (Lyman), who succeeded Exarch Mar Timotheos II (Mather) as the legal and canonical head of the Order of Antioch on the latter’s death in 1964, did not renew the majority of appointments made under his predecessor, and there is no evidence from his archives or correspondence that Mar Georgius ever held any authority on his behalf. The Prince-Abbot’s British representative throughout his reign was Canon George Tull of the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain.

[lxiii] See the Instruments of Consecration and Appointment reproduced in this paper.

[lxiv] Fr. Seraphim Newman-Norton, ibid,

[lxv] Koenig discusses his motivation and modus operandi in an interview at



[lxviii] See Bertil Persson, ed. Karl Barwin, An Apostolic Episcopal Ministry, second revised ed., St Michael’s Press, Arizona, 1992, p.82, note 20.

[lxix] MS letter from Dr Crow to Prince Kermit Poling, 19 Sept. 1972, in the archive of the WOU (reproduced subsequently in this paper).

[lxx] The Excubitor, issue 206, March 2007, p.8