Art and Faith

Monday, 18 February 2008

Aleksei Kivshenko. The Battle for the Shipki Pass. no date (1870s-1880s)

Filed under: 19th century,fine art,historical,military,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

The Battle for the Shipki Pass (Aleksei Kivshenko, no date (1870s-1880s))

The Battle for the Shipki Pass was one of the pivotal events of the Russo-Turkish War. The Orthodox host had to take this mountain pass to open the way to free the rest of Bulgaria from under the Islamic boot. It was a smashing victory for the Orthodox armies. America should remember this history, for it presages a new Orthodox alliance in the Balkans that shall undercut the influence of the atheistic West in the region. The ordinary folk of the Balkans have not forgotten this event… America shall be reminded of it all too late.

By the way, this was posted on one of my favourite Russian websites today. The popular support in Russia for their Serbian (and other Balkan) co-religionists is strong, heartfelt, and genuine. I stand with them… what about you?

Ilya Repin. A Portrait of Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich. 1896

Filed under: early modern,fine art,human study,portrait,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

A Portrait of Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich (Ilya Repin, 1896)

This week, I decided to make a variation in my “artist of the week” theme. My featured artist is Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930), one of the “greats” of the Russian art world. Later this week, I shall present some fresh biographical material on him not previously available in English. Instead of a “compare and contrast”, I shall present three works by Mr Repin daily.

Ilya Repin. For the Motherland! A Hero of the Recent War. 1878

For the Motherland! A Hero of the Recent War

Ilya Repin



Of course, everyone is talking of the recent unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo by the UÇK terrorists. This painting reminds us that Russia has deep and lasting ties to the region, ties which are all the stronger due to the shared Orthodox faith of Russians and most native Balkan peoples. America has no such ties, and it has no special interests in the region, despite the recent blatherings of neocons in Washington. The subject in the painting above is an ordinary soldier of the Russian army at the time of the Russo-Turkish War in the late 1870s. The fronts were in the Balkans and on the Caucasian border. Orthodox Russian warriors freed most of the Balkans from the oppression of the Ottomans. Sadly, at the Congress of Berlin, some of the other European powers (shades of Kosovo!) forced Russian troops to withdraw from some regions and the Ottoman persecutors returned to power in those localities until the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. The ordinary people of the Balkans have never forgotten that Russia freed them from the Ottoman yoke, and I can assure you that Russian forces today would be welcomed in the region, despite what a few Westernised politicians and intellectuals say. Serbia and Russia share a particularly deep and abiding bond. The casus belli for the Russian-Turkish War was that Russian volunteers were serving alongside their Serb brothers in the fight against the Ottoman oppressor. In 1914, Russia went to war rather than to see Serbia humiliated by the Catholic Hapsburg aggressor. In 1999, Russia supported Serbia, but, the effects of the smuta following the collapse of the Soviets prevented effectual aid. In 2008… Russia is ready, America isn’t. America’s going to be awakened from its opium dream of “the only superpower” soon. God willing, it won’t take a war to do it.


Ilya Repin. Kuzma Minin. 1894

Kuzma Minin

Ilya Repin



Kuzma Minin is one of the major figures in the successful Russian repulse of the Polish Catholic aggressors in the 17th century. He, along with the boyar Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, led the opolchenie, the people’s army that drove the Poles from Moscow. The Poles wished to impose on Russia the unia that they had rammed down the throats of their Little Russian subjects… that is, they tried to, at least! The bravery of the Little Russian people under Polish oppression is a bright page in Russian history. They formed lay brotherhoods when their clergy treacherously accepted the Unia. So, they sent for priests from Russia, they printed Orthodox books, they composed popular religious songs to combat the Jesuits, and they gave allegiance to the Orthodox tsar when they could. Today, there isn’t any Uniatism in the Ukrainian lands of the old empire, except for that exported by unrepresentative semi-Polish Galicians. There’s an ironic footnote to all this. The Uniates adopted the Orthodox spiritual songs in an effort to deceive the credulous. If they and their hierarchies were honest, they wouldn’t do so, for the songs were written as a part of the successful Orthodox effort to oppose papist hegemony. To return to Kuzma Minin, he’s one of the pivotal figures in Russian history, for he’s one of those who helped to forge the Great Russian character we see today. If it weren’t for the courage of Minin and Pozharsky, we’d have no Orthodox faith to practise today. Let that sink in… if it weren’t for these two men and the brave warriors they led, we’d have no Orthodox faith to practise today. That’s why the Optina fathers of today teach that it’s a binding spiritual obligation for all Orthodox Christians to serve the motherland. Hmm… there appears to be a difference between what the Optina fathers teach and what some in the Orthodox Peace Fellowship advocate… I know which one of the two I support! What about you?


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