“Pray for me.” It’s a typical request often seen via email or Facebook, from one person to another. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, to which Philip Ludwell III’s family belonged, it has always been the custom to also pray for those who have departed this life. Such prayers are believed to be efficacious to those who have passed to the next life. According to the twentieth-century Orthodox Romanian Elder Cleopa: “God looks down from the heavens with attentiveness upon that which springs from love, for love is in its entirety the sum of His commandments.”
For twenty-two years after converting to Orthodoxy at the age of 22 in 1738 in London, Philip Ludwell faithfully and consistently practiced the Faith in his native Virginia without the benefit of a broader community of fellow Orthodox Christians, most probably leading prayers for his plantation community at his Green Spring home. With our growing knowledge of his life and times there has arisen the desire amongst modern-day Orthodox Christians to commemorate him and his family, just like the earliest Christians, who,
“surrounded as they were by death as a result of official persecution on the part of the Roman Empire, took great care to honor the dead … and to remember them especially on the anniversary of their deaths which were seen as ‘birthdays’ into eternal life.” [oca.org]
On Saturday, March 26 at 4:15 pm, a memorial service (panihida/parastas) will be held for the Ludwell family at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Washington, DC, after which some of Philip Ludwell’s English translations of liturgical texts will be used in the All-Night Vigil service. This will mark the 249th anniversary of the death of Philip Ludwell III, which occurred on March 14/27, 1767, in London.
We also hope that other Orthodox Christians and parishes make regular plans to remember Colonel Philip Ludwell III and his Orthodox family in their prayers and through public memorial services: