Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (1934 2022) and St Theosevia House, Oxford

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (1934 – 2022) and St Theosevia House, Oxford

In 1983 at the initiative of Militza Zernov, an ecumenical St Theosevia Trust was created to buy and own No 2, Canterbury Road, Oxford.  A seven-bedroomed Victorian North Oxford house, it stands next door to No 1, the House of St Gregory of Nyssa. St Theosevia is understood to have been St Gregory’s wife. His sister St Macrina is commemorated in the house that  stands in Banbury Rd on the other side of, and adjacent to, No 1.

St Theosevia House was established as a Centre for the Study of Christian Spirituality, with the aim of increasing ecumenical understanding between Christians of different traditions and particularly those of East and West. The House hosts seven residents who are graduate students or senior scholars. A Director and/or Warden takes immediate responsibility for the smooth running of the House and for the study programme. The first Director was the Revd Canon Donald Allchin, who was first assisted and then succeeded, when he moved to Wales in 1994, by  Dr WSF ‘Bill’ Pickering and his wife Carol (resident co-Wardens), by the Revd Dr Ann Shukman (Warden 1998-2001), and Margaret Hollis (Warden 2001-06), and by Bishop Kallistos as Director (1998-2007).  Bishop Kallistos, when appointed Metropolitan in 2006, invited  me to assist for a year and then succeed him as Director, with residents assisting in various capacities. He presided as Chair of the Trustees from 1983 to 2010 and thereafter remained a constant source of wisdom as a Trustee,  and a frequent contributor to the study programme.  

The study programme has occasionally included an evening lecture series, but the staple offering consists of open Study Days which take place on two or three Saturdays during each university term. Each Day explores some aspect of Christian life, thought, and spirituality, ancient and modern, including sacred music, art, and architecture. The first Study day took place on 24 October 1987 on ‘Icons and their Spirituality’, with a day on ’The Mystical Theology of the Church of England, Lancelot Andrewes to E.B. Pusey’ planned to follow. Insights from different Christian traditions are shared, and there have been occasional Jewish or Muslim contributions.

Metropolitan Kallistos has been a mainstay, regularly bringing engaging contributions to the Study Days, sharing his experiences of current ecumenical dialogue, and leading memorable informal evening sessions on poetry or music around topics such as ‘Easter’,  ‘The Holy Eucharist’, ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary,’ and  ‘Heaven and Hell.’  Since 2006 alone he has spoken on desert monasticism, Orthodox spiritualty as expressed in the Liturgy, the theology of icons, the Jesus Prayer, purgatory, fasting, St Simeon the New Theologian, Uncreated Light, Meister Eckhart, Greek Orthodoxy in relation to the Reformation, St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and Counter-Reformation Spirituality, the Orthodox and the Anglican non-Jurors, Fr Sophrony, and the Christian faith of CS Lewis.

We miss his presence, wisdom, wit, and prayerful erudition. May he be counted among the saints.

Revd Dr Liz Carmichael MBE, Director, St Theosevia Centre, Oxford, 7 November 2022

492 words, for Sobornost special edition.