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Saint Sergius of Radonezh, His Trinity Monastery, and the Formation of the Russian Identity
David B. Miller
First place winner of the Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize Presents the remarkable history of Russia’s most important monastery
First place winner of the Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize
Presents the remarkable history of Russia’s most important monastery
“A comprehensive survey of the subject. It conjures a clear picture of a major Russian saint and a major institution in the Russian religious, economic and social life of the late Middle Ages.”—Pierre Gonneau, University of Paris-Sorbonne
St. Sergius of Radonezh’s monastery had its beginnings in 1339 as a hermit’s hut and little chapel near Moscow that was dedicated by its founder to the Trinity. This example spawned a movement of monastic foundations throughout Russia. Within three decades of his death in 1392, Sergius was recognized as a saint, and by 1450 many considered him the intercessor for the Russian land who freed its people from Mongol rule.
Over the next century and a half, thousands sought St. Sergius’s intercession with gifts to the monastery. Moscow’s rulers made Sergius patron saint of their dynasty and of the Russian tsardom. By 1605, the Trinity-Sergius monastery was the biggest house in Russia. Using extensive archival materials, Miller traces the evolution of Trinity’s relationship to Sergius’s venerators and of its traditions, governance, social composition, and the lifestyle of its members.
Miller presents Trinity’s dramatic history from the 14th century to the beginning of the Time of Troubles. In lucid prose, Miller argues that St. Sergius’s cult and monastery became integrating forces on a national scale and vital elements in the forging of a Russian identity, economy, and cohesive society. The power of religion to shape national identity is a lively topic today, and Miller’s study will interest both medievalists and modern historians, as well as readers of Orthodox Church history.
(2010) 374 pp., 12 illus.
David B. Miller is Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
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