THE WESTERN ORTHODOX HERITAGE

For a thousand years, from AD37-45 to AD1054-66, the people living in the British Isles and western Europe believed and worshipped God as an integral part of the undivided Orthodox Catholic Church. That Church was governed world wide by five Patriarchs, those of Constantinople (the Ecumenical Patriarch), Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. The Church in the British Isles was a local expression of the common Orthodox Christian Faith held throughout the world. The great saints of the British Isles such as Saint Aidan, Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Alban, Saint Chad, Saint Cuthbert, Saint Boniface, Saint Dunstan etc., were all members of that Orthodox Catholic Church in the British Isles which continued for a thousand years.
The initial split in the world wide Church occurred just after the beginning of the second millennium, when the Patriarch of Rome and his people parted from the majority of the Church led by the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other three Patriarchs. Throughout the second millennium, the church adhering to the Pope (Patriarch) of Rome, continued to split and further split until today there are some ten thousand separate groups or churches.
The original Church, the undivided Orthodox Catholic Church, continues today, still led by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, joined by the Patriarchs of Moscow, Georgia, Belgrade and Bucharest. During the past millennium, the Church has expanded, with Russia and the Slavic Churches having the largest number of Orthodox people in the world today. The Church founded by Christ and spread by His Apostles and Evangelists - the Orthodox Church - numbers hundreds of millions of members today, and is rapidly expanding on all the continents and especially in the western countries.

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