Celebrating Philip Ludwell III of Virginia, the First Known American to Convert to Orthodox Christianity

By the summer of 1738 Philip Ludwell III of Virginia was one of the largest landowners in British Virginia and was looking to cultivate his faith and spirit. This quest led him to travel to London, England and that fateful summer he encountered a tiny community of Orthodox Christians, changing the course of his life forever as he would become the first known American to convert to Orthodox Christianity.

Now the Orthodox community celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of Philip Ludwell III of Virginia, who was confirmed on December 31, 1738 in the holy Chrism in London.

After his trip to London, Ludwell returned to Virginia, married and had three daughters. In 1753 his wife, Frances Grimes passed away and Ludwell took his three daughters to London and in 1762 they too were received by the Eastern Orthodox Church, just as their father had been years before.

The family returned to Virginia and Ludwell begun translating three of the most used Orthodox liturgies and other popular services into English. The Holy Synod immediately blessed the printing and distribution of Ludwell’s work. This is when Ludwell began to pass out his English translation of the Orthodox liturgies to whomever was interested in reading the passages.

If you would like to learn more information about Philip Ludwell III and his important role in bringing Orthodox Christianity across “the pond,” check out the website dedicated to him here.