“Lenin Lives!”

It was one thing to kill Russia’s Christians, and another to destroy Russian Christendom.

In a certain sense, of course, the elimination of Christians would achieve this end. In addition to Orthodox lay people such as the New Martyr Daria (whose execution I recounted in my previous post), most of the clergy was killed off or consigned to places such as Solovetsky Monastery, which was converted to a kind of clerical death camp.

Prisoner at Solovetsky Monastery

Prisoners at Solovetsky Monastery

Of some fifty thousand parish priests in 1917, only about five thousand existed two decades later. The bishops faced even greater odds against survival.

Without a body of the faithful or the clergy to lead them, the Communists reasoned, Christendom would wither and disappear. But they could not wait for that. They had seized power in the name of an entirely new and post-Christian civilization and intended to usher in its supporting culture as quickly as possible. They were men in a hurry.

And so they launched a cultural revolution on several “fronts.” In this post I will introduce one of them: The notorious cult of Vladimir Lenin. Continue reading

The Face of a Typical New Martyr

There is no such thing as a typical Christian martyr, for each one is unique in his or her witness to God’s love for the world. At the same time, each martyr was a person living in the age to which God assigned him, and therefore was joined to and served to sanctify the world during that time.

Thanks to modern photography (and the bureaucratic efficiency of totalitarianism), we know what a lot of the Christians who were shot to death for their faith in the Soviet Union looked like. New Martyr Daria ZaitsevaPrecisely, vividly, and even in some cases rather artistically. Continue reading