New Study of Bishop Vernon Herford (1866-1938) Published

The British Orthodox Church – 28/10/18

Copies can be obtained online from

This summer Dr. Ajesh T. Philip and George Alexander’s published an important study, Western Rites of Syriac-Malankara Orthodox Churches. The Mission Untold (OCP Publications: 2018) which was written under the auspices of OCP-MARP (Metropolitan Alvares Julius Research Project) as part of their research and study of the work, mission and life of the legendary Metropolitan-Archbishop Mar Julius I (1836-1923) of the Syriac-Malankara Orthodox Churches. It extended its remit to cover the Chaldean Syrian-Malankara Churches, which historically and theologically originate from their connection with the ancient Church of the East, whose theology derives from the Nestorian rather than the Orthodox faith.

To complement their important study and research Abba Seraphim, using extensive material from the library and archives of the British Orthodox Church has written:

Abba Seraphim, As Far as the East is From the West. Sidelights on Assyrian Church History, No. 5 in the Seraphic Press’ series “Byways of Church History” (ISBN 978-0-244-42261-5), Hardback, v + 279 pp. + illustrations. £23.00

As far back as 1981 Abba Seraphim wrote a series of three articles entitled “Sidelights on Assyrian Church History”, in the Glastonbury Bulletin (now the Glastonbury Review), which form the basis for this book. Having examined the origins of the Syro-Chaldean Catholic Church and its ministry in south India, he traces through the circumstances in which the “Mellusians” left the Catholic Church and reunited with the Assyrian Church of the East. In 1902 an Englishman, Ulric Vernon Herford (1866-1938) was consecrated as Mar Jacobus, Bishop of Mercia, and founded the Evangelical Catholic Church, which was notable for introducing Catholic theology and sacramental worship to the Free Churches. After the death of Mar Jacobus, some of his principal followers became Orthodox and united with Abba Seraphim’s predecessor, the late Metropolitan Georgius of Glastonbury. Drawing on much original archival material, including Mar Jacobus’ own contemporary account of his visit to India in 1902 to receive episcopal consecration – which had been published in 1954, but has long since been unavailable – as well as tracing the complex history of the Assyrian Church through the extraordinary life and ministry of the late Catholicos of the East, Mar Eshai Shim’un XXIII (1908-1975), the last of the hereditary patriarchs.

About the Book
Early in the twentieth century an Englishman, Ulric Vernon Herford (1866-1938) living in Oxford, received episcopal consecration from an Indian bishop of the Syro-Chaldean succession. Although the ministry of ‘Mar Jacobus’, the religious name by which he was known, was relatively small, his impact on the local religious scene was significant. This study, subtitled “Sidelights on Assyrian Church History” attempts to explain the historical context in which these events took place as well as the dynamics of the ancient Assyrian Church of the East, from which Mar Jacobus derived his mission. On the death of his consecrator, he inherited the oversight of the communities in southern India, which others who came after him claimed to inherit.