February 24, 2012
An Annual Panihida for Colonel Philip Ludwell III

March 14/27, 2012 will mark the two hundred and forty-fifth anniversary of the repose of the first documented Orthodox believer in the Americas, Colonel Philip Ludwell III of Williamsburg, VA. He converted to the Orthodox faith at the Russian Church in London on December 31, 1738, several days after his twenty-second birthday. He was blessed by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church to return to Virginia with the Holy Gifts and increasing evidence now points to the existence of a lay Orthodox community headed by him in mid-eighteenth century Williamsburg.

Beyond dispute, he brought his three daughters up in the faith, and they were formally received into the Church in London in 1762. Some of their descendants also appear to have remained in the Church for several generations following Ludwell’s repose. He died in 1767 while resident in London. His funeral was served at the Russian Church in London on Monday, March 19/30, 1767 (at that time the calendar difference was only 11 days.)

Whilst still in Virginia, Ludwell translated The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as it is performed without a deacon and The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great as it is performed without a deacon. He also translated The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church, which was published in 1762, and penned what appears to be a short work of his own, entitled How to behave before, at, and after the Divine Service in the Church.

In all of these labors, he demonstrated an evident love for God and the Orthodox faith. He was also known for his cheerful and vivacious disposition, given to hospitality and to contributing to the needs of the poor. He also played a vital role in strengthening the defense of the Commonwealth of Virginia through tireless intercession with the British military authorities in his capacity as a member of the Royal Governing Council.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, has blessed the parishes of the Eastern American Diocese to hold a panihida service each year on the anniversary of Philip Ludwell’s repose. A number of articles with further information and links about the life of Philip Ludwell may be found here.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese