This article examines two cases of Finnish Orthodox traditions of procession and pilgrimage that are currently being reframed in response to physical, political, and religious disruption. Annual Orthodox processions are now held in Northern Karelia close to and across the Finnish-Russian border, while the pilgrimage of St. Tryphon of Pechenga, the patron saint of the Skolt Saami in northeastern Finland, crosses the border between Finland and Norway to visit their lost home area, as an act of remembrance and recognition of the history of the Skolt Saami. Here I argue that, contrary to some trends within pilgrimage studies to blur tourism and pilgrimage, these journeys are primarily religious, understood only with an appreciation of Orthodox theology and worldview. Each case demonstrates both continuity and change in Orthodox pilgrimage praxis and its theological underpinnings. It highlights the pragmatism of the priests and congregations involved in adapting traditional forms to complex new contexts involving the loss of tangible and intangible heritage. The analysis shows that both events include the active agency of both the institution and local participants and a significant amount of invention in relation to new contexts of loss.
In this article, we analyze two contemporary local Eastern Orthodox contexts, Estonia and Finland, which are related and yet different. We are especially interested in how women negotiate with their Orthodox faith and, within it, the figure of the Mother of God. We are interested in the intersections of popular Mariology (both beliefs and practises), gender and ethnicity. We explore Marian interpretations among Finnish and Estonian Seto women because the Mother of God occupies a special role and meaning for women in both cultures. This meaning could be described as a simultaneous process of identification with Mary and differentiation from her. In this interplay, both Mary’s gendered humanity and her ability for divine intervention are accentuated.