FRANCE OF MY HEART
France currently home
to 500-700,000 Orthodox Christians and growing
The Handbook of the Orthodox Church has been published in France, providing comprehensive information and practical information about Orthodox life in France. It presents a detailed map showing the location of all Orthodox parishes, monasteries, and dioceses in France by region, and provides information about Orthodox bishops (members of the Association of Orthodox Bishops), priests, and deacons, and also about clergy who have reposed in recent years. The new publication also contains information on icon workshops, Orthodox choirs, Orthodox periodicals, documentaries and art publications, candle and bookstores, and Orthodox movements in France, reports Sedmitza.
The number of Orthodox is growing steadily in France according to the Handbook, which places it at 500,000. The Catholic publication “La Croix” places the number at 700,000, with a preponderance of Russians and Romanians arriving over the past several years. This number includes the roughly 75,000 who regularly attend services, as well as those who come on major holidays, and all who are baptized into the Orthodox Church, considering themselves Orthodox.
In the late 19th century there were 20,000 Orthodox in France, and 200,000 in the late 20th. There are currently 278 parishes in France (160 in 2000; 238 in 2010), including 21 monasteries, the first of which was founded in 1934, and the majority of which have been founded since 1991.
The number of clergymen has also been steadily growing. According to 2017 information, there are 10 bishops, and 330 priests and deacons (300 in 2010), most of them married with secular professions. The largest number of parishes belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church, with 91. There are currently three Orthodox schools of theology, including the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, founded in 1925, which was the first Orthodox institution in Western Europe.
Until the early 19th century, Orthodox services took place in France only on special occasions, such as the visit of Tsar Alexander I to Paris in 1814. Paris received its first Russian Orthodox chapel in 1816, and the first Greek Orthodox church opened in Marseilles in 1834.
The need for this publication arose from the constantly growing interest in Orthodoxy in France, which has gained more attention lately from the opening of the Russian Orthodox spiritual and cultural centers in Paris and Strasbourg, as well as other recent Orthodox events throughout the country. A considerable role has also been played by the iconography, sacred music, and the beauty of Orthodox rites.
Since 1963, the public information channel on French television has aired a monthly show called “Orthodoxy,” and the Catholic Channel WHO airs a monthly program called “Orthodoxy, Here and Now.” In 1964, a twice-monthly show called “Orthodoxy” appeared on the France-Culture radio station, and a show of the same name airs monthly on the Franco-Belgian Christian radio station RCF. Radio Notre-Dame has had a weekly broadcast “Light of Orthodoxy” since 2012, and the site orthodixie.com has been providing Orthodox news from France daily since 2005.