A Brief History of the Anglican Patriarchate
and the Imperial Roman Church

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(Find out more about Latino-Germanic and Byzantine-Slavic Culture.)


The modern Anglican Patriarchate, dedicated to its celestial patron of St. Stephen, is a conglomeration of several historic lineages, both spiritual and temporal, and holds the thrones of Saints Mark and Stephen and the temporal throne of St. Peter the Apostle. Its episcopal jurisdiction and Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession descend from the First Chair of the Patriarchate, the former Anglican Diocese of the Southwest. It is Gallo-Russo-Byznatine Catholic with Anglican heritage. Its temporal heritage derives from and is centered in Florence and also includes the Kingdom of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire and the Electorates of W�rzburg, Trier, Westphalia, and Mainz. Pope Saint Leo X, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Bosone d'Arles, King of Lower Burgundy, Vice King of Italy are considered the founders of the modern Anglican Patriarchate. By its joint Apostolic and secular heritage, it represents the traditional Gallo-Russo-Byzantine and Old Roman Catholic Anglican Rite in Italy and its other territories in the historical framework of the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Empire. The Anglican Patriarchate is the heir to the Burgundian House of Arles and the Spanish Houses of Ivrea and Barcelona in Imperial Italy. Its spiritual territory is the same as that of the former Patriarchate of the West. The Imperial Roman Church is defined as the Anglican Patriarchate and the churches of all Bishops recognised by the Patriarchate. It takes its name from the Florentine heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate, with Florence recognised as the second New Rome after Constantinople. Bishops of the Imperial Roman Church need not be of the Anglican Rite, but may be of any traditional Catholic Rite. The Anglican Patriarchate is at once historical and modern — ancient and new.

Visit the site of the Stato Pontificio, the Secular and Historic Heritage of the Patriarchate

The Florentine Archfathers
Top L-R: Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV
Bottom L-R: Leo XI, Rutherford I
(More about the Florentine Archfathers)

The Anglican Patriarchate is Latino-Germanic and Byznatine-Slavic as an ethnic identity, with roots in the Latino/Roman territories of Italy (the origin of the Latinos), France, and Spain, and in the Germanic territories. Also a key component of heritage of the Patriarchate are the people of central and eastern europe, due to their ancient connections to both the Roman/Byzantine Empire and the  Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The Patriarchate, through Christ and through its ethnic heritage, unites west and east. (Read more about Latino-Germanic and Byzantine-Slavic cultural heritage here.) (Read more about the Patriarchate's Spanish heritage here.)(Read more about the Patriarchate's Italian heritage here.) It is both distinct in its heritage and diverse in its work in service to God and others. It has a deep history of parochial work, but today focuses only on mission work. It is of Christ's Kingdom of Heaven, but firmly planted in the world. It past is rooted in the rule of nations, yet today it is a nation without borders. Its people are devoted and pious, compassionate in service, fierce in defense. It is perhaps singular in modern world history, and its people are rightly proud of it.

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Historic throne of the First Chair of the Patriarchate, bearing the diocesan coat of arms of the
Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate of St. Stephen (then the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest)
located in St. Chad’s Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas. The shield above the throne is that of St. Chad of
Mercia, the 7th century Bishop of Northumbria and the Mercians. St. Willibrord, the Apostle to the Dutch,
first Bishop of Utrecht, the See from which the Patriarchate’s Roman Catholic succession derives, was born in Northumbria.


The Diocese of the Southwest was at its founding a part of the traditional protestant Anglican movement that separated from the Episcopal Church of the USA in the 1970s. It had a thriving parochial ministry and founded the St. George Theological Seminary, now Pontifical Georgian College, the principle seminary of the Patriarchate. By the early 2000s, internal dissent resulted in schism. Some went to protestant Anglican churches, some went to the Orthodox or Roman Catholic Churches, and some ended up effectively as Congregationalist parishes—an oddity in the Catholic context. The Chancellor of the Diocese, who had also been ordained in traditional Roman Catholic succession through the Independent Catholic Church and was also an abbot, remained and brought the remnants of the diocese into the Apostolic Communion of Anglican Churches. There he was consecrated as its bishop.

To provide contextual background, the Independent Catholic Church was a jurisdiction in communion with the Philippine National Catholic Church and in Apostolic Succession from Pope Leo XIII through Bishop Duarte Costa in Brazil, and from the Armenian Uniate and Greek Melkite Catholic Churches in union with Rome. Bishop Duarte Costa was separated from the Roman Communion over a dispute over Pope Saint Pius XII’s alleged (though now shown to be unfounded) support for Adolf Hitler during the Second World War. The separate administration of Duarte Costa continues today as the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. There has been some tension over the years with the Roman Communion, though it should be pointed out that such tension exists even within the Roman Communion itself. As an example of the esteem in which the Duarte Costa line is held by Rome, Mgr. Salomao Barbosa Ferraz, a bishop consecrated by Mgr. Duarte Costa, was received as a bishop within the Roman Communion by Pope Saint John XXIII and served on a committee of the Second Vatican Council at the invitation of Pope Saint Paul VI. Mgr. Ferraz was married with seven children.

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Archbishop Duarte Costa
First Patriarch of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church

L-R: Pope St. John XXIII, Mgr. Salomao Barbosa Ferraz, Bishop, and Pope St. Paul VI

The Apostolic Communion of Anglican Churches was and remains a confederation of diverse bishops that share both Anglican heritage and Old Roman Catholic, Greek, Russian, and Eastern Apostolic Succession. That is, it is a jurisdiction with both Old Roman Catholic and Gallo-Russo-Byzantine authority -- both Western and Eastern heritage. “Old Roman Catholic” refers to lineage from the ancient Roman Catholic Diocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Founded by the Northumbrian bishop Willibrord, it was granted autonomy by the Holy See around 900 years ago. During the 1700s, tensions arose with Rome due to unfounded accusations of heresy against the Archbishop of Utrecht made by the Jesuits. The Archbishop was twice acquitted, but the damage was done. By the time of the reign of Pius IX, a separate diocese was established in Utrecht, and both remain to this day. Those of the original See referred to themselves as “Roman Catholics of the Old Episcopal Order” and similar names. Gallo-Russo-Byzantine is a descriptive term refers to the heritage, succession, and Apostolic lineage and authority of the Patriarchate and the Imperial Roman Church rather than a distinct rite. In fact, it is comprised of several ancient Christian rites. The church's heritage spans the historic Roman Empire, from Spain and Britain in the west to Russia in the east; from northern Gaul to north Africa and the middle east. Its apostolic authority is Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Greek, Gallican, Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Antiochean. 

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Saint Willibrord
First Bishop of Utrecht, Apostle to the Dutch

Nikon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus'
A prominent figure in the Apostolic Succession of the Anglican Patriarchate

Then, Utrecht was sent into turmoil by a movement at the time of the First Vatican Council. In opposition to Papal Infallibility, the so-called “Old Catholic” movement gained traction and became the dominant faction in the old-order Utrecht archdiocese (and still is today). The new movement passed resolutions rejecting much of traditional Roman Catholic teaching. Those in “opposition to the opposition,” i.e., those who did not wish those changes, were led primarily by Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, a bishop consecrated by the Archbishop of Utrecht and with jurisdiction over Britain. In order to maintain the old order of Roman Catholicism that was the right of Utrecht, he separated from the new administration of Utrecht. They retained the name Old Roman Catholic, and it is from Mgr. Mathew that most Old Roman Catholic lineages derive.

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Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew

The main Roman Catholic lines of succession of the Patriarchate via Mgr. Mathew descends from St. Peter through Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Archbishop of Rheims and nephew of Pope Urban VIII (reigned 1623-1644). Antonio Barberini was made a Cardinal in 1627 at the age of 20 (not at all uncommon at the time). He was installed as the Archbishop of Rheims in 1657 during the reign of King Louis XIV. He was also the Crown Cardinal of France from 1636.

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Antonio Cardinal Barberini
Archbishop of Rheims, Crown Cardinal of France

Another Roman Catholic line of succession of the Patriarchate descends from Clement XIII (reigned 1758-1769). Other lines include the Chaldean Uniate, Armenian Uniate, and Greek Melkite Uniate Churches in union with Rome.

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Pope Clement XIII

The Patriarchate also holds temporal patrimony that was restored to it based on hereditary descent, as well as a Cardinal Deaconry (Santa Maria Antiqua) in perpetuity. From that temporal patrimony, the first Patriarch is also the fifth Florentine Archfather and third Cardinal Prince of Florence in succession from Pope Saint Leo X (who is considered founder of the unification of the temporal and spiritual patrimony of the Anglican Patriarchate), and also is the ecclesiastical successor to Matilda of Tuscany in Tuscany and the Vice-Kingship of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire. Indeed, upon her death without issue, Matilda ceded the rights to her lands to the Holy Church of Rome. (See also the Temporal Succession of the Patriarchate.) The Patriarchate also is linked to the Merovingian dynasty from which are held the French titles of Count of Sainte Animie and Count of Marmande. Additionally, the Patriarchal and Royal Household descends from Don James I, King of Arag�n, Count of G�vaudan in a line to Berenguer Raimondo, Count of Provence and G�vaudan in the House of Barcelona, from which also the Merovingian title of Count of Sainte Animie, the personal title of the Archfathers and Imperial Patriarchs, also succeeds. The ancient House of Ivrea, to which the Anglican Patriarchate is successor in Imperial Italy, also succeeded to the thrones of Barcelona and Castile y Le�n. Thus the Anglican Patriarchate maintains strong historical ties to Spain through France and Italy. As the sole successor of Pope Saint Leo X and temporal successor of St. Peter the Apostle in Italy and Britain, the Patriarchate is fully Catholic and holds the same canonical authority as the Roman Communion (Vatican). The Patriarchate is the ecclesiastical successor to temporal Rome, the temporal patrimony of the Roman Empire claimed historically by right of the papacy. The succession passed to the Patriarchate after Benedict XVI by right of Rome and Florence, with the Papa-Prince of the Romans with papal authority as temporal successor of St. Peter, and the Pope-Bishop of Rome as spiritual successor of St. Peter and de facto sovereign of the Vatican City-State. The Patriarchate's heritage is also associated with King Peter II of Yugoslavia. The King, a second-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and also of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, came to the throne at the age of 11 upon his father's assassination in 1934. He was forced into exiles by the Nazis shortly after coming of age. Peter II's godfather was George VI of England. The Florentine Archfather holds the distinction of Knight Bachelor of Yugoslavia, an honour shared by several other members of the Curia and which the Patriarchate retains the right to confer.

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Pope Saint Leo X, first Cardinal Prince of Florence

King Peter II of Yugoslavia

King George VI of England with his godson, King Peter II of Yugoslavia

The name of the Patriarchal Household, the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham, is a combination of the name of the Cardinal Deaconry, Santa Maria Antiqua, and Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady's title as Patroness of the English and English-speaking people. Several of the senior officials of the Patriarchate are or were Priests Associate of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. (The Patriarchate also maintains the ministry of the Servants of Our Lady of Walsingham in Italy.)

The spiritual, temporal, and even linguistic heritage of the modern Patriarchate of St. Stephen may perhaps be best depicted in this famous painting by Romano Giovanni Romanelli of Matilda of Tuscany, Vice Queen of Italy, and Saint Anselmo, the Italian-born Archbishop of Canterbury, England, with Pope Urban II. The Holy Father Urban represents the Latin language and the Holy Roman Church. Saint Anselmo represents the English Church and language, and indeed by being Italian, he embodies the Anglo-Italian linkage even more explicitly. Matilda of Tuscany represents the Italian language and the temporal heritage of the Patriarchate, with over 1000 years of heritage of defense of the Faith and Church.

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Saint Anselmo of Canterbury (left), Pope Urban II (centre), and Matilda of Tuscany (right)

Today the Anglican Patriarchate of Rome is a global mission-based jurisdiction and is dedicated to its celestial Patron, St. Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr. Though its historic spiritual and temporal home is in Rome and Florence, it operates around the world. Although it no longer controls the lands of its temporal patrimony, it maintains its status as an ecclesiastical sovereignty and government. The Patriarchate focuses on humanitarian and service work, grounded in the saving grace of the Holy Mass, and perpetuates in a modern context the rich heritage of those portions of the historic Holy Roman Empire entrusted to it to preserve.

See also:

Patriarchal Household
Government of the Patriarchate
Information Portal
Historic Timeline
Frequently Asked Questions
Holy Roman Empire
Apostolic Succession
Temporal Succession
Patriarchal States


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