#21 - JRL 2009-155 - JRL Home
Patriarch Kirill: Courage and faith of the Solovki camp prisoners are benchmarks for today's Russia

Arkhangelsk, August 21, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia points out courage and spirit of the Solovki prison camp as an example to contemporaries.

"This is the place where our grandfathers and fathers suffered, but even under mortal danger they abode in Christ, notwithstanding death. There was no other power stronger than the power of their faith and prayers to save the prisoners," Patriarch Kirill said Friday at a sermon at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in the Solovetsky monastery which was turned into the camp prison in 1920s.

Patriarch Kirill remembered that his grandfather Vasily Gundyayev had been among the first prisoners of the Solovetsky prison camp, and when asked about that time, his grandfather "spoke of the most dreadful things very quietly and peacefully," as he would talk about some every day affairs.

Many believers, including the clergy, bishops, and monks became prisoners of the Solovki camp during the Soviet era, but they had set "a great example to unbeliervers and those who really suffered" with their lives, prayers and services conducted in the hardest times, Patriarch said.

Patriarch believes that it is such challenging situation of "spiritual extremism", poverty, starvation and hardships requiring the most courage and strength from the people that allows "them to see God, it is such situation that provides real religious experience and true faith, rather than empty reasoning and deliberation about God."

According to Patriarch, the history of the Soviet period of the Solovetsky Islands and the example of those Orthodox believers who found themselves imprisoned here explicitly define the way that Russia should follow today. "One should be deaf and blind to history lessons" not to be aware of this fact.

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