This essay examines the phenomenon of group pilgrimage in early twentieth-century Russia. Made possible by modern advances in technology and transportation, parish pilgrimages represented a new form of spiritual travel at the end of the imperial era, allowing greater numbers of Orthodox men and women to visit and venerate sacred sites across the length and breadth of the Russian empire. Undertaken with the blessing of Orthodox bishops and often underwritten by local merchants and entrepreneurs, organized parish pilgrimages also afforded new pedagogical opportunities for the Orthodox clergy to instruct their flock in the articles of faith, to supervise and give structure to lay devotional practices, and to assert the continued meaningfulness of the Orthodox faith against the rival claims of sectarians, secularists, and socialists alike. In adapting an age-old practice for present-day purposes, the clerical organizers of parish pilgrimages sought a spiritual solution to the crises engendered by Russia’s passage into modernity. Just as mass pilgrimages by rail and steam could accommodate greater numbers of participants, so too did they invite a wide range of multiple meanings from the Orthodox men and women who took part in them.
Vera ShevzovRussian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press2004); Christine D. Worobec “Miraculous Healings” in Sacred Stories: Religion and Spirituality in Modern Russia ed. Mark D. Steinberg and Heather J. Coleman (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press 2007) 22-43; and Robert H. Greene Bodies like Bright Stars: Saints and Relics in Orthodox Russia (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Univ. Press 2010).
A. N. Kurtsev“Palomnichestvo v Tsentral’nom Chernozem’e (1861-1917 gg.),” in Materialy dlia izucheniia selenii Rossii. Doklady i soobshcheniia shestoi Rossiiskoi nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii “Rossiiskaia derevnia: istoriia i sovremennost’.”Part 1: Istoriia. Demografiia. Ekonomika. Ekologiia. Verovaniia(Moscow: Entsiklopediia Rossiiskikh Dereven’1997) 145; and idem “Kul’tovye migratsii naseleniia Tsentral’nogo Chernozem’ia v 1861-1917 gg.” in Iz istorii monastyrei i khramov Kurskogo kraia ed. A. Iu. Drugovskaia (Kursk: KGMU 1998) 92-96.
Charles Steinwedel“Resettling People, Unsettling the Empire: Migration and the Challenge of Governance, 1861-1917,” in Peopling the Russian Periphery: Borderland Colonization in Eurasian Historyed. Nicholas B. Breyfogle Abby Schrader and Willard Sunderland (London: Routledge2007) 128-47. For a thorough overview of the changing policies on passports and mobility see Eugene M. Avrutin Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press 2010) ch. 3-4.
Gregory L. Freeze“Institutionalizing Piety: The Church and Popular Religion, 1750-1850,” in Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empireed. Jane Burbank and David L. Ransel (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press1998) 210-49.
Victor Turner and Edith TurnerImage and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (New York: Columbia Univ. Press1978) esp. ch. 1. For a critique of the Turners’ thesis see Raymond Jonas France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart: An Epic Tale for Modern Times (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press 2000).
T. G. Frumenkova“Puteshestviia peterburzhtsev v Solovetskii monastyr’ v XVIII – nachale XX veka (po zapiskam sovremennikov),” in “Peterburzhets puteshestvuet.” Sbornik materialov konferentsii 2-3 marta 1995 goda(St. Petersburg: “Piligrim” 1995) 86-95; and idem “Puteshestviia iz Peterburga v Arkhangel’sk v XIX veke i stroitel’stvo Severnoi zheleznoi dorogi” in Trudy Gosudarstvennogo muzeia istorii Sankt-Peterburga vyp. 3: Peterburzhets puteshestvuet(St. Petersburg: Muzei1998) 33-41. As a result of unequal patterns of economic development Catholic pilgrimage organizers in Western Europe had capitalized on the opportunities afforded by railroad transportation several decades before their Russian Orthodox counterparts. See David Blackbourn Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a Nineteenth-Century German Village (New York: Vintage 1995) 136-37; and Ruth Harris Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age (New York: Penguin 1999) 258-59.
SmirnovO prikhodskikh palomnichestvakh9. Imperial law codes required police and local garrisons to ensure the maintenance of proper order during religious processions [krestnye khody] so “that during this time no one indulge in any sort of boisterous revelry such as dancing horsemanship or any sort of impropriety.” See Priest Aleksandr Tresviatskii Kalendar’ sviashchennika (Samara: Tipo-litografiia N. A. Zhdanova 1893) 161-62.
TroitskiiNarodnoe palomnichestvo5-6. See also Priest A. P. Mramornov Velikoe palomnichestvo Saratovskikh Arkhipastyrei pastyrei i mirian v Sedmiezerskuiu pustyn’ Kazanskoi eparkhii (Saratov: Tipografiia Soiuza pechatnogo dela 1911) reprinted in A. P. Mramornov Sochineniia zapiski eparkhial’nye khroniki publitsistika ed. A. I. Mramornov (Saratov: Nauchnaia kniga 2005) 190. On secular tourism and sight-seeing in the late imperial period see Christopher Ely “The Origins of Russian Scenery: Volga River Tourism and Russian Landscape Aesthetics” Slavic Review 62 no. 4 (Winter 2003): 666-82.
A. Mel’nikovPutevoditel’ dlia palomnika v Serafim-Sarovskuiu pustyn’ (Nizhnii Novgorod: n.p.1903); and D. D. Ivanchenko K sviatym mestam (Saratov: n.p. 1911) 15-16. On the importance of self-privation in Russian pilgrimage see Kurtsev “Palomnichestvo v Tsentral’nom Chernozem’e” 143; and M. M. Gromyko Mir russkoi derevni (Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia 1991) 116-20.
SmirnovO prikhodskikh palomnichestvakh22-23. On the strains that monastic communities faced in accommodating an increasing numbers of pilgrims at the turn of the last century see Worobec “Unintended Consequences.”
K. K. KokovtsovPoezdka v Solovetskii monastyr’ (St. Petersburg: Tipografiia Iu. N. Erlikh1901) 27. On the hardships endured by pilgrims to Solovki see S. D. Protopopov Iz poezdki v Solovetskii monastyr’ (Moscow: Tvorchestvo tipografii A. I. Mamontova 1903). The most comprehensive English-language work on Solovki is Roy R. Robson Solovki: The Story of Russia Told Through its Most Remarkable Islands (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press 2004).
A. G. TroitskiiPalomnichestvo ko Sv. Muromskim Chudotvortsam (Nizhnii Novgorod: Tipografiia M. A. Rusinovoi1917) 6. See also Sin’kevich Palomnichestvo 1-3; and Smirnov O prikhodskikh palomnichestvakh 23 43. On the importance of fasting in preparation for holy communion see Priest I. N. Bukharev O postakh v pravoslavnoi tserkvi 5th ed. (Moscow: Tipografiia L. F. Snegireva 1888) 8-9.
MramornovVelikoe palomnichestvo188 189. On the banning of alcohol during parish pilgrimages see also Smirnov O prikhodskikh palomnichestvakh 28-30. Popular tradition in the northern reaches of the empire held that a pilgrim boat would sink or circle aimlessly if “sinful” passengers were onboard. See Laura Stark Peasants Pilgrims and Sacred Promises: Ritual and the Supernatural in Orthodox Karelian Folk Religion. Studia Fennica Folkloristica 11 (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society 2002) 165-66.
Ivan SavchenkoMolitvennyia vozdykhaniia bogomol’tsa pri poseshchenii Kievskikh blizhnikh peshcher i poklonenie netlennym moshcham sviatykh ugodnikov Bozhiikh tam pochivaiushchikh (Kiev: Tipografiia M. D. Ivanovoi1893) 4 9 22.