Christianity among the Karelians and Saami The Karelians and the Saami are Orthodox by confession. The territory inhabited by these peoples was covered with a network of Orthodox parishes in the second half of the 19th century. From the mid-16th century, due to the efforts of Reverend Tryphon of Pechenga, the founder of the Pechenga Monastery, the Kola Saami (Lapps) were baptized; the first parishes were established in the 17th century. Despite the missionary activity of the Orthodox Church, there were also many adherents of the Old Belief among the region’s indigenous peoples (especially Karelians). The Old Believers did not attend Orthodox churches, they prayed in special meeting houses or at home. Deceased Old Believers were buried in special cemeteries. For the Old Believers, the graveyard was a spiritual life center along with the meeting-house. At places of compact population of Old Believers, village graveyards were located near almost every village; where there were few Old Believers, special burial places were provided at chapels or meeting houses, where the dead from different villages were buried. The Old Believers’ tombstones had their specifics. The most widespread in the second half of the 19th century were eight-pointed crosses (painted, carved, or captioned) and golubets (carved pillars with a gabled roof, with a cross or an icon with a cross arranged in its top part). Alongside this, the Karelians and Saami retained various legends, omens, and rituals related to pre-Christian beliefs up to the 20th century. The people continued to believe in ghosts of nature,, purificatory power of fire, hunting magic, and cult of family/clan patron ghosts. L.V. Korolkova Old Belief. Pomors The Old Belief played an important role in Pomor Land’s social life and in the Pomor group formation process. The largest Old Believers’ settlement was the Vygoretskoye co-residence (Danilov hermitage) founded on the Vyg River in 1694 (its female branch on the Leksa River was established in 1706) to become the center of spirituality in Trans-Onega. According to the tradition, a Pomor, even if not an Old Believer, had to visit Danilov at least once in his life. The Priestless Old Believers created a statute of the Pomor consent close to traditional norms of monastic life: limitation of worldly needs, and combining religious interests with trade activities and artisanship. The Old Believers’ artisan activity was significant. They dressed skins for book bindings and prayer ropes, did book miniatures and icon painting, mural decoration and wood carving; they made birch bark, copper, and silver articles, and were famous for their weaving and silk, bead, gold and silver embroidery. O.G. Baranova Orthodox faith. Izhma Komi. The economic and cultural center of the Izhma Komi is Izhma village founded in the last quarter of the 16th century. The Izhma Komi adhered to the official Orthodox faith; moreover, according to pre-Revolutionary researchers, the Izhma people’s piety was extremely zealous: they donated considerable amounts of money for the construction of churches. For instance, on the site of the dismantled wooden Transfiguration Church in Izhma, a stone church with a belfry was built in 1806-1828 on the donations of local residents. In the past, the Izhma Komi and Pomor Russians had the tradition of installing memorial and guarding crosses in rural settlements, which has survived to this day. A.A. Chuvyurov Christianization. Peoples of Siberia Economic exploration of Arctic territories by the Russian state went along with propagation of Russian culture and the Orthodox faith. Settlement of peasants and service class men on new lands, continuous contacts and cross marriages promoted perception by aborigines of some ideas of Christian doctrine. At the state level, Christianization was considered as an important tool of establishing its principles among indigenous peoples. The church played a tremendous role in the exploration of Arctic territories. The Christianization of Northern Siberia’s indigenous population started in the late 16th century, i.e. when Russian service class men started exploring the territory. A major phase of spiritual exploration of the Arctic was the institution of its own, Siberian saints. The relics of Basil of Mangazeya, Siberia’s first saint, were uncovered in 1642. The same year, Blessed Simon of Verkhoturye died, who was recognized as righteous in his lifetime. The active missionary activity in the Arctic started as early as in the 18th century. Right after the establishment of administrative offices, religious centers were created there, and their activity resulted in final propagation and consolidation of Orthodox faith among local people. The Christianization of the Arctic had also an educational aspect. Schools were established everywhere, preparing assistant missionaries, clerics, and interpreters. The remote and hard-to-reach nature of Arctic lands, inclement climate, lack of understanding by the locals of Christian doctrine basics, reluctance to deny their traditional beliefs, and language barrier greatly complicated the missionaries’ activity. While partially recognizing the power of “Russian God,” Arctic peoples still retained their adherence to deep-rooted objects of worship, believing them to be more powerful. By the early 20th century, the majority of indigenous population adopted Christianity. However, local faith had a special nature: some Orthodox fundamentals and outward ritual aspects merged with traditional religious beliefs, were deposited on them, producing a whimsical picture of religious syncretism. V.V. Gorbacheva


O.G. Baranova – Author L.V. Korolkova – Author A.A. Chuvyurov – Author V.V. Gorbacheva – Author K.Yu. Solovyeva – Album Compiler