Source: Orthodox Church in America
December 13, 2017
Wednesday, December 13, 2017—the Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska—marks the 34th anniversary of the repose of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and a leading 20th century Orthodox Christian theologian.
Father Alexander was born in Estonia in 1921 to a family of Russian emigres. He spent his youth in France, where he completed his secondary and university educations. He also finished theological studies at the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Sergius in Paris, which at that time was the center of Russian Orthodox scholarship after the turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1946, he taught Church history at Saint Sergius Institute until 1951, when he was invited to join the faculty of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, at that time located in New York City. He was soon recognized as a leading exponent of Orthodox liturgical theology, which sees the liturgical tradition of the Church as a major sign and expression of the Christian faith.
Father Alexander received his doctorate on July 5, 1959 from Saint Sergius Institute, having defended his dissertation, “Tserkovny Ustav: Opyt Vvedeniia v Liturgicheskoe Bogoslovie” [“The Church’s Ordo: Introduction to Liturgical Theology”]. He held honorary degrees from Butler University, General Theological Seminary, Lafayette College, Iona College, and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
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