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First Exarch of the Russian Catholic Church
By the inscrutable designs of divine providence, during the fateful year of 1917, when Our Lady appeared at Fatima, there were two events that also occurred in Russia. The very first Catholic Exarch (a bishop approved by, and under the direct jurisdiction of, the See of Peter) for the Russian Catholic Church was named. He was Blessed Leonid Feodorov. The other event was of course the Revolution, accomplished by Kerensky and Lenin in two stages, that turned over the vast Russian Empire of the Romanovs to a clique of anti-Christian persecutors. Holy Mother Russia (and the whole world) has suffered greatly from this Revolution, and both still suffer from the scars and effects of it.
The message(s) of Fatima, given both in 1917 and in subsequent apparitions to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, show Heaven’s concern with Holy Mother Russia and her errors and her coming conversion. The conversion refers of course to the end of Russia’s first and most fundamental “error”—her separation from the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church under the Vicar of Christ. The holy reunion that the Mother of God desires (and demands) is the perfection of the Orthodox Church of Russia that is to be accomplished by a miracle of Grace resulting from the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the Pope and all of the Bishops in union with Peter.
The erection of the Exarchate by Pope St. Pius X and Pope Benedict XV set the pattern for proper and fruitful reunion of the Orthodox. The holy life of the first Exarch, Blessed Leonid Feodorov (and his only successor Blessed Klymentiy Sheptytskyi, who died in 1951) established the norm that all should look to who pray and work for the successful reunion of the two Churches as Heaven wishes.
The Exarchate has been extinguished since 1951, but we believe that its resurrection is only a matter of time, and that its previous existence, and the life of Blessed Leonid, remain as divine signposts on the path of the most glorious and fruitful reunion that is to come.
Paperback, 278 pages
Paul Mailleux, S.J. is a native of Ouffet near Liège, Belgium, and entered the Society of Jesus at the age of eighteen. After studies in Ghent, Louvain, and Rome, and a period of teaching in Liege, he became professor at the Internat Russe Saint-Georges, a school for emigré Russian boys which was then located in Namur, Belgium. During the Second World War, as head of that institution, he transferred it to Meudon, near Paris, and remained its Director for almost twenty years. In that capacity he learned to speak Russian as a second mother tongue. Ninety percent of the students of the Internat Saint-Georges were Orthodox; some were the sons of Orthodox clergy and several became Orthodox priests themselves. That position of liaison between Orthodox and Catholics, as well as his travels to the Christian East; his courses and writings on theological problems have given him a unique experience in ecumenical matters. From 1957–1964, he directed the John XXIII Center for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University.
Exarch Leonid Feodorov died on March 7th, 1935 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 27th, 2001.
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