Left of the Cathedral is Finland’s National Library.
I did not bother take a picture because it is covered in construction mesh for renovation. The National Library’s main building will reopen in January.
If one wants to do research with original Russian books, magazines and other sources, one is more likely to end up here, than in Russia.
Finland’s National Library is home to the world’s largest Russian/Slavic collection, because the Soviet Communists destroyed mass quantities of books in Russia and the Soviet Union in their efforts to rewrite history. The Russian Civil War and World War II also destroyed massive numbers of books in the Soviet Union.
The Librarian in the Finland’s National Library was extremely friendly and helpful. She invited us to come back when they reopen the newly renovated main building.
Finland remains one of my favorite places – great people, a great country, prosperous, clean, tech savvy, helpful, and friendly. What more could one want (well maybe warmer weather).
Trivia time… What is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of Communism (besides the Bible)?
We went to Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore) last week. I bought a book that looked interesting. Turns out it is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of communism. First Published in 2011, within a year the book had sold more than 1 million hard copies and several million e-book copies.
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) is the bestselling book in Russia since communism’s fall.
Everyday Saints is a 500 page book written by a Russian Orthodox monk (Archimandrite Tikhon), telling about his conversion to faith in Soviet Russia during the early 1980s while attending film school, his subsequent experiences as a Monk in the Pskov Caves Monastery, and the stores of various monks in the monastery.
It is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.
Can you imagine a Christian book being the equivalent of “Harry Potter” in the Russian publishing world? This is truly AMAZING.
If you want to learn more about the persecutions of Christians during the Communist era, and about Orthodox spirituality, this is the book for you. It is available in an English translation from Amazon, etc. All proceeds go to build a church in memory of the millions of Christian martyrs killed during Soviet rule.
Photos of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, in Saint Petersburg, taken from our hotel room window.
The story of Kazan Cathedral, on Nevsky Prospect, across from Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore), is really amazing. Kazan was closed by the communists after the Russian Revolution. In the 1930s the communists turned Kazan into the Museum of Atheism. But Kazan was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. It is now the Primary Cathedral for Saint Petersburg, and the seat of the bishop for the Eparchy (diocese) of St. Petersburg.
Almost all churches in the Soviet Union were closed under Stalin in the 1930s, and again under Khruchev in the 1950s. (And virtually all priests and pastors were arrested, tortured, sent to the Gulags and/or killed. It is difficult to estimate how many millions of Christians were killed under the communists.) Even in the late 1980s only 20 churches were allowed to legally function in Saint Petersburg, a city of 5 million people.
Today, the number of functioning churches in Russia has multiplied by 10 fold since the fall of communism; and the number of monasteries has grown from only 1 to many 100s, with more churches and monasteries opening every day.
The most recent estimates are that 75% of all Russians now profess faith. In spite of its many problems and issues, Russia today is one of the most religious countries in the world.
The Nazis began the mass arrests of French Jews in 1942. Many Jews came to Father Dimitri Klepinin asking him for baptismal certificates, to avoid being deported and sent to the Nazi death camps. Father Dimitri believed his Christian Faith demanded that he act saying, “I think the good Christ would give me that paper if I were in their place. So I must do it… If a man surprised by a storm takes shelter in a church, do I have the right to close the door?”
In February, 1943 he Father Dimitri was interrogated by a German Gestapo officer named Hoffman.
Hoffman: “If we release you, will you promise never again to aid Jews?” Father Dimitri: “I can say no such thing. I am a Christian, and must act as I must.” Hoffman: (striking the priest across the face he screamed) “Jew lover! How dare you talk of those pigs as being a Christian duty!” Father Dmitri: (raising the Cross from around his neck) “Do you know this Jew?”
Father Dimitri was then sent to a prison camp. He was abused and ridiculed by the guards who shoved him shouting, “Jew! Jew!” In response Dimitri said, “Remember that Jesus Christ had to bear much greater humiliations.”
A year later, Father Dimitri was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, in Germany. His health broken, suffering from pneumonia, he died on February 9, 1944 and his body was burned in the Buchenwald crematorium.
“A single seed of religious instruction, planted by mother or father into the heart of a child, produces a bigger harvest than a bag-full of seeds planted by clerics and priests.” Elias the Teacher (The Angel of Antioch)
“The wars of Israel were the only ‘holy wars’ in history… there can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.”
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both, we are Disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.”
“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (from “The Cost of Discipleship)
“War is one of the greatest plagues that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it. Pestilence becomes as nothing in comparison with it. Pestilence is the least evil of the three, and this therefore is why (King) David chose it, willing rather to fall into the hands of God than into those of pitiless man.” Martin Luther