Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

In Memoriam - Lev Aleksandrovich Zander

† December 17, 1964

Professor Zander died in a train while returning to Paris after a lecturing tour in Germany; this death was indeed symbolical: for the last forty years he was constantly "on the go," a real itinerant apostle of Orthodoxy in the West. It will be difficult to imagine an ecumenical encounter, a student conference, a theological colloquium without him and his truly youthful enthusiasm.

Born in 1893 in St. Petersburg, in the family of a doctor, L. A. graduated from the Emperor Alexander Lyceum and the University of St. Petersburg where he majored in Philosophy. He continued his philosophical studies in Heidelberg, Germany and in 1919-1920 taught Philosophy at the University of Perm. Forced to leave Russia, he taught in Prague and in 1925 joined the faculty of the newly-founded St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris where he remained till his death. He was the first general secretary of the Russian Student Christian Movement in exile, a leading participant in the Ecumenical Movement, an active member of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. His numerous works include: Leontiev and Progress, Peking 1921; Dostoyevsky, London 1948; God and the World, Paris 1948 (a major two-volume Russian study of the theology of the late Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, whose faithful follower and disciple L. A. was) and an important book on the ecumenical movement: Vision and Action, London 1952. In 1959, the University of Marburg conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa.

To us, his friends, L. A. remains an inspiring image of a layman totally devoted to the Church, truly and fully living her life, the example of a wonderful apostolic zeal, and, last but not least, of genuine Christian charity. Many of us very often disagreed with him in matters theological or ecumenical. But with him no disagreement, however radical, could have any impact on personal friendship and mutual respect. I happened to be in Paris the day of the funeral and to take part in the service. And I am happy to have witnessed the love with which the whole Church led him to his eternal rest.

– Alexander Schmemann

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, 1965, vol. 9, Number 1, p. 40