Sunday, June 21, 2009

The 140th Anniversary of Dr. J.J. Overbeck's Conversion Remembered

According to the Dean of the ROCOR Cathedral in Chiswick, London, today is the 140th anniversary of the conversion of Dr. J.J. (Julian Joseph) Overbeck, the instigator of the modern Western Rite Orthodox movement. Today, his home church is remembering his historical contributions. Fr. Nicholas Savchenko wrote:
Next Sunday there will be a 140th anniversary of doctor Overback [sic.] conversion to Orthodoxy as it is said in our parish registration book (21 June 1869). I'll be making a speach after Liturgy about him. His book was translated to Russian and Holy Synod and Pobedonostsev supported him. He was a member of our parish untill 1905 when he died and his wife and children were members too.

fr. Nikolay
Incidentally, Pobedonostsev was no small supporter and "had connections," as they say. Overbeck pressed for a Western liturgy that resembled that of the Roman Catholic (and, more to the point, Old Catholic) churches of his day, with only the modifications he deemed necessary to bring that living tradition into line with Orthodox theology and practice -- and his plan received widespread support, including that of multiple patriarchates including (temporarily) the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Although his attempts to woo the Union of Utrecht failed, the Orthodox Church accepted the concept of a revived Western Rite, specifically one that began by taking the Roman Mass as its starting point.

The idea of Western Orthodoxy did not come to fruition in his lifetime, but it is unlikely it would have come about at all without his actions, all of which began with his conversion to the Orthodox Church 140 years ago today. Our most profound thanks to Fr. Nikolay and the rest for the remembrance. (Hat tip: Hieromonk Michael, for forwarding it.)

Below are links for further reading about Dr. Overbeck:

Dr. J.J. Overbeck and His Scheme for the Reestablishment of the Orthodox Church in the West
by David F. Ambramtsov.

Catholic Orthodoxy and Anglo-Catholicism, by J.J. Overbeck (1866)

A Plain View of the Claims of the Orthodox Church as Opposed to All Other Christian Denominations by J.J. Overbeck, D.D. (1881)

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