Prince-Abbot Edmond II (H.S.H. The Most Revd. George Arvid Edmond Lyman) was born on 20 January 1938 and died on 28 May 1998 aged sixty. He was the seventh Prince-Abbot and fifth Mukungu of San Luigi, succeeding to office on 16 February 1962.
George Lyman was born in Los Angeles, California, USA, the son of George E. and Ada G. Lyman. When he was aged two, his parents became acquainted with Prince-Abbot Edmond I of San Luigi, and the Prince-Abbot then took an active interest in his upbringing from his infancy onwards. He endured poor health from childhood. In addition, Lyman’s family life was not an easy one, and relations with his mother and his sister became strained. Prince-Abbot Edmond I gave him a number of responsibilities within the administration of the Abbey-Principality and provided discipline and training that eased his transition to adulthood.
He was educated at several universities, earning the degrees of Associate of Arts (El Camino) and then Bachelor of Divinity from the St Louis Seminary, which had been founded in 1935 under the auspices of Archbishop Lowell Paul Wadle. Subsequently he received honorary degrees including Doctor of Divinity (Trinity, Southern, St And.), Doctor of Humane Letters (Reed), Doctor of Letters (National), Doctor of Sacred Theology (St John’s), Doctor of Religious Education (St Olav’s, Sweden), Doctor of Canon Law (St Paul’s), Doctor of Laws (several of the above colleges) etc. In 1959, he was named “Young Man of the Year” by Southside Chamber of Commerce.
He was ordained priest by Prince-Abbot Edmond I on 8 May 1960 and consecrated bishop by him on 29 December 1961 assisted by Archbishop Emile Rodriguez y Fairfield.
Msgr. Lyman was a member of local, state and national associations including the National Society of Arts and Letters, The Mayor’s (Los Angeles) Commission, the Personnel and Industrial Relations Association, and the American Society for Public Administration. He received honorary military ranks of Colonel, Aide-de-Camp etc. from the Governors of several states. He was a member in high rank of several dozen Orders of Knighthood, and was active in Christian causes, social work and the support of the protection of animals. His professional activities were in the field of industrial relations (including as a personnel and administration manager for the Hitachi Corporation) and as a university executive. As of November 1960, he was President of University Parlor no. 272 of the Native Sons of the Golden West, which he belonged to for over forty years. He would later be active in the Ramona Parlor no. 109 which today has named its George A. Lyman Memorial Library in his honour. He was a charter member of Centinela Valley Historical Society and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
In 1959, King Peter II of Yugoslavia visited Los Angeles, and Dr Rufus B. KleinSmid, retired President of the University of Southern California and a member of the San Luigi Orders, gave a reception in his honour. At this reception, Msgr. Lyman met King Peter for the first time and the two men (photographed left) developed a friendship. As a result, King Peter graciously accepted the High Protectorship of the Order of the Crown of Thorns. King Peter also gave Msgr. Lyman a statue of the Infant of Prague and the King Peter Cross.
Msgr. Lyman was an active member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association from its foundation in 1959. In 1961, he acquired a sword that had been used at the battle of Gettysburg and used this at all subsequent San Luigi ceremonies. It had earlier been proposed to him that a Masonic sword might be used, which suggestion he rejected definitively in a letter of 20 November 1961, stating that, “I WILL NOT have anything to do with the use of…anything connecting us with the Masonic Order.”
In October 1960, in a ceremony in Los Angeles, by commission of Prince-Abbot Edmond I, Msgr. Lyman conferred the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns upon H.M. King Frederik IX of Denmark. The photograph to the right, taken at the ceremony, shows the King (left) with Msgr. Lyman (third from left), Postmaster Otto K. Olson (member of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, second from left) and Dame Patricia Barham (member of the San Luigi Orders, right). In the same year Msgr. Lyman was elevated to the rank of Count within the Abbey-Principality.
In 1961, conscious of his failing health, Prince-Abbot Edmond I (pictured below, centre) appointed Msgr. Lyman (below right) as Grand Chancellor of the San Luigi Orders, and late that year designated him as his co-adjutor with right of succession. On 16 February 1962, at the Danish Nursing Home in Atascadero where he now resided, and with full approval of the Supreme Council, Prince-Abbot Edmond I resigned from his offices and appointed the twenty-four-year-old Msgr. Lyman in his place. He wrote, “Msgr. Edmond II is a much younger man, and while Grand Chancellor showed good signs of the ability to obtain the adherence of people of standing and repute.” In a letter of 7 November 1961, he had described him as “a fine, devoted young man…[who] with more experience should turn out really good.”
Prince-Abbot Edmond II’s most important achievement was to obtain full recognition of the title of Prince de San Luigi from King Peter II of Yugoslavia on 22 March 1962. In seeking such recognition from an unquestioned sovereign who had never abdicated and preserved his rights in full, Prince-Abbot Edmond II doubtless sought to draw a line under the French controversy that had beset San Luigi in the early years of the century, and which had occasionally resurfaced among those with axes to grind. Significantly, King Peter II did not create a new Royal Yugoslav title of Prince de San Luigi, but recognized Prince-Abbot Edmond II as the existing holder of the Principality, also conferring upon him the additional title of Marquis de Valjevo. Such an act of recognition has historically been common practice for titles with a feudal or obscure foundation.
August 25, 1962, saw the celebrations for the seventieth anniversary of the consecration of Prince-Abbot Joseph III and the coming of the 1891 Order of the Crown of Thorns to the United States. These took place at the Chapel of St Louis the King, Crenshaw, which was inaugurated by Msgr. Lyman and had been opened to the public on Palm Sunday of that year. It seated fifteen and was operative until Msgr. Lyman moved his office from Crenshaw to Carthy Circle in 1963.
The Will of Prince-Abbot Edmond I of 14 March 1963 confirmed the succession and also made provision for the elevation of Msgr. Lyman to the ecclesiastical office of Archbishop of San Luigi. Following the death of Edmond I on 2 April 1963, he was formally consecrated and enthroned for this purpose in a public ceremony on 5 May 1963 in the Crawford Chapel of the Macarthur Community Church of San Pablo, California, by Bishop Robert Schuyler Zeiger of the American Orthodox Catholic Church assisted by Archbishops Emile Rodriguez y Fairfield and Edgar Ramon Verostek.
In a letter of February 13, 1963, the new Prince-Abbot withdrew confirmation from all titles of nobility granted by his predecessor, save those of Count L’Estrange granted to Bishop Hugh Michael Strange, and Baron de Prus granted to Francis de Prus, Prior of the San Luigi Orders for Scotland. He went on to make several grants of titles himself, including that of Count to the Most Revd. Prince Kermit Poling, subsequently Royal Patron of the San Luigi Orders.
Among Prince-Abbot Edmond II’s responsibilities from the early 1960s onwards was the Missionary Order of St Paul, incorporated in 1910, of which he became President and Chief Executive. He appointed Canon George Tull, Vice-President for Europe of the San Luigi Orders, as representative of this order in Great Britain, with the late Fr. Anthony Sayer-Richardson as his deputy.
Prince-Abbot Edmond II was well-connected within California society, and among his friends was E.G. “Pat” Brown, Governor of California 1959-67, who was a member of the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross. In addition to Canon Tull in England and Mother Elizabeth of Mira Loma, his other great ally in church matters was Archbishop Frederick Charles King (1917-85) (pictured right), who served as Vice-Chancellor of the San Luigi Orders for the United States until his death. He was consecrated bishop by Prince-Abbot Edmond II on 24 November 1964 and together with him was responsible for continuing the work of the American Council of Ecumenical Churches; a collection of historic corporations, some of which were extant in name only, which had association with the Free Catholic and related movements. This body, founded by Bishop Frank Dyer OA in the 1940s and conveyed by Dyer to Prince-Abbot Edmond II in 1963, was aimed at unifying the smaller churches in an organization that allowed for mutual recognition while maintaining the independence of each member, but in the event it enjoyed only limited success, since the Archbishops held that much Free Catholic activity in California was of low quality and that most of the men concerned were on various grounds unsuitable partners for collaboration. However, one section of the Council, the United Missionary Army, undertook valuable work in providing Bibles for use in Liberia (described as “the only country [in Africa] that America can COUNT ON when ‘the chips are down'”), and Archbishop King became widely known as a radio evangelist. At Archbishop King’s death, Prince-Abbot Edmond II presided at his Requiem Mass.
The Prince-Abbot noted with strong disapproval the attempts that were made during the 1960s, particularly by persons connected with the Augustan Society, to establish “registers” of chivalric Orders. Referring to one such entity in a letter of 16 July 1970, he described it as “some sort of Gestapo which would pass judgement on ALL orders” and stated “We have never made any effort to received recognization from [X] or his organization. Nor have we gone “out of our way” to get listings. What we have done, as you well know, is to attempt to serve Christ and to award those outstanding citizens of the world who serve the cause of Knighthood in one way or another.” As with his approach to the smaller churches, Edmond II’s disapproval of such self-appointed “commissions” has proved to be well-grounded and continues to influence the position of the Abbey-Principality today.
Prince-Abbot Edmond II arranged for the historic Abbey San Encino (pictured left) to become the home of San Luigi in California, and a number of ceremonies took place there. The building was owned by the Browne family and one of their number, musician Jackson Browne, used it as his studio. On St Louis’ Day 1970, the 700th anniversary of the death of our patron saint, Edmond II appointed Canon Tull as Titular Abbot of San Encino with the title Monsigneur. In addition, Mrs. Patricia Barham, publisher and editor of “Society West”, who had been a member of both the Order of the Crown of Thorns and the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross since 1959, purchased the palatial residence of the former Roman Catholic Archbishops of Los Angeles in 1971. A San Luigi investiture was held there on 25 August 1971 and others would take place in future years, notably on 28 January 1977 when the Mayor of Los Angeles, the widow of a former Governor of California, a leading black attorney and the head of education for the State of Washington were all admitted to the San Luigi Orders.
In January 1964 Prince-Abbot Edmond II succeeded to the legal title of the Order of Antioch following the death of Exarch Timothy Howard Ellsworth Mather (Mar Timotheus II).
In late January 1972, just before his tenth anniversary, Prince-Abbot Edmond II was among those honoured for his service to the state of California at a reception at the home of the actress Elke Sommer in Beverly Glen. The photograph shows him (far right) with Ms. Sommer, Countess Patte Barham and other guests.
On 3 July 1976, an investiture of the San Luigi Orders took place at Hollymont House, Hollywood. This had previously been the home of Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck; by the time of the investiture it was the home of the Most Revd. Dr. Donald Jolly, a bishop in the Free Protestant Episcopal Church and a banker. He was admitted to the San Luigi Orders at the investiture along with ten other new knights. This event marked the one hundredth anniversary of the arrival in the New World of Prince-Abbot Joseph III. In the following year, the “Brief History of the San Luigi Orders” appeared under the authorship of Archbishop Paul G.W. Schultz, who worked closely with the Prince-Abbot at this time.
A notable factor in Prince-Abbot Edmond II’s life was his insistence upon preserving his privacy. He kept an extremely keen eye upon the activities of other chivalric Orders and the smaller churches within California and studiously avoided contact with those cranks and gadflies whose purpose in seeking him out was to prevail upon him to grant undeserved honours or to seek his involvement in schemes of which he would not have approved. Except for a few friends (including Canon Tull) who were given his home address, all letters were routed through a Post Office Box and he maintained no directory-listed telephone number. Nevertheless, he received a voluminous correspondence from all over the world, although, not being an eager letter-writer, he responded only to those items he considered important. This situation gave rise in the early 1970s to a wholly unfounded rumour that he was dead, which led to the formation of a schismatic and unauthorized Irish Priory of the Order of the Crown of Thorns and the appearance of several rival claimants to the San Luigi titles. All of these were strongly condemned both by Prince-Abbot Edmond II and Canon Tull.
All of the bishops consecrated by Prince-Abbot Edmond II predeceased him. On 15 November 1963, he consecrated Harry Brewster Carpenter (d. 1986), known in religion as Mar Veritas. His signature appears on a number of San Luigi archive documents of the 1960s as secretary. On an unknown date, Edmond II consecrated Andrew Newman, known in religion as Bernard, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who died in September 1973. On 18 May 1975, Edmond II and Archbishop King consecrated Archbishop Paul Christian G.W. Schultz (1931-95) of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Order of Corporate Reunion. On an unknown date, Edmond II exchanged consecrations as a means of additional commissioning with Archbishop Homer Ferdinand Roebke (d. 1975). Of the bishops consecrated by Edmond II, only Schultz and Roebke left a succession. The present Prince-Abbot is in succession from both of them.
Prince-Abbot Edmond II’s enthusiasms included in particular the theatre, which he often visited, though he was critical of the dearth of quality among young actors. He was also enthusiastic about art, owning several original paintings, and enjoyed wine. Heir to the San Luigi archives, he assembled a large collection of relics, liturgical items, church vestments, and a considerable ecclesiastical library.
Prince-Abbot Edmond II was twice married. By his first marriage in 1977 he gained four stepchildren, one of whom would die prematurely in violent circumstances. During the following years, the Prince-Abbot’s mental health, which was always fragile, began to break down and his behaviour became erratic, leading to major difficulties. His marriage was unhappy and ended in divorce in 1986. Eventually he was certified a mentally incompetent patient by the Superior Court of California, and in consequence the government of the Abbey-Principality reverted to the Supreme Council under the fifth provision of the Declaration of Prince-Abbot Edmond I of 22 June 1954 (clause relating to incapacity by reason of sickness or infirmity).
Subsequently, Prince-Abbot Edmond II recovered to some extent and began to resume normal life, though now retired on medical grounds. Upon the reunification of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, he was recognized as Bishop of the Province of the West, though was not able to take up this office actively. He married his second wife Lillia in 1997; by this marriage he gained a further two step-children. By 1997, however, he was suffering the effects of upper colon cancer and underwent chemotherapy; he was also enduring episodes of severe depression. Two days before his death, he was admitted to hospital and whilst there, was successfully prevailed upon to sign away the rights to his corporations; this brought about the effective end of the American Council of Ecumenical Churches and caused the Abbey-Principality to withdraw representative rights from any such remaining active United States corporations in its Notice no. 2012/01. The Prince-Abbot left hospital, but a day later suffered a brain haemorrhage that caused his death. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.
At no point during his time of competence (or indeed subsequently) did Prince-Abbot Edmond II designate a successor, and as a result the succession to San Luigi reverted to be determined by the Supreme Council under the same provision of the 1954 Declaration as was cited above. The only member of Supreme Council to survive him was Canon Tull, who with his appointed successor Msgr. James Phillips ensured the survival of the Abbey-Principality through the period of interregnum until the election of the present Prince-Abbot in 2011. This, however, was undoubtedly a period of decline and inactivity for the San Luigi Orders, and left a considerable work of revival to be done in order to regain the previous position of strength.