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Bodies like Bright Stars
Saints and Relics in Orthodox Russia
Robert H. Greene
“Readable and witty. Integrating Western scholarship with a deep plumbing of archival material, Greene has deftly analyzed the myriad interactions among saints’ bones, believers, religious leaders, imperial officials, and Bolsheviks—from the most mundane level to Lenin himself.” —Roy R. Robson, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, author of Old Believers in Modern Russia and Solovki
"...[the Bolsheviks] were not wrong in connecting popular piety with the cult of saints' relics, as Robert Greene demonstrates so eloquently in this fascinating monograph....This is an important book that will be of interest to anyone working on Orthodoxy, on religion and modernity, or on religion and revolutionary states." –Church History
While Russian Orthodox theologians celebrated saints as paragons of virtue and piety whose lives were to be emulated in the search for salvation, ordinary believers routinely sought the assistance of the holy dead for commonplace and earthly matters. The Orthodox faithful were more likely to pray to the saints for help in the everyday concerns of health and home than for salvation. Evidence from miracle stories, devotional literature, parish records, diocesan reports, religious newspapers and magazines, and archival documents demonstrates how Orthodox men and women cultivated direct and literally hands-on relationships with their heavenly intercessors by visiting saintly shrines, touching and kissing miracle-working relics, and making pledges to repay the saints for miracles rendered.
(2009) 292 pp., 18 illus.
Robert H. Greene is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Montana and is co-editor of Orthodox Russia: Belief and Practice under the Tsars.
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