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In the memory of my grandmother - Lidiya Vodopyanova

Krasilovka Village is one of the first secret settlements of Old-Believers in the early 1770s and a home-town of my grandmother, Lidiya. Rejecting to follow the ‘new-faith’ liturgical reforms imposed upon the Russian Orthodox Church by the patriarch of Moscow Nikon in 1653, ‘Raskolniki’ are Russian religious dissenters who chose to retain the old traditions and suffered persecution from church leaders. Many of the members of the old faith migrated west, seeking refuge or secretly settling on free land. Only a few managed to escape and form their community that survived into modern times. One of them is Krasilovka. In 1834, the number of Old-Believers who lived in Krasylovka was 604. Currently, this number has decreased to around 10 people. Until today, this community settlement still maintains the liturgical and ritual practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church as they were in the 16-17th century. Krasilovka is the land where ‘temptation’ of modernity and urban life-style was never found.

These are the unique photographs of the almost extinct old-believers community and their settlements in Northern part of Ukraine, the village of Krasylivka, located 35 km from Chernobyl where on April 26th, 1986 a nuclear accident known as Chernobyl Disaster happened.

In the following four photographs you can see the Easter celebration practice in one of its kind old-believer church in Kyiv, Ukraine. The biggest religious holiday in the community of old-believers.

Old Believers resisted the accommodation of Russian piety to the contemporary forms of Greek Orthodox worship, producing a division in Eastern Europe between the Old Believers and those who followed the state church. The Russian synodal state church and the state authorities often saw Old Believers as dangerous elements and as a threat to Russia. Russian nationalism began to rise along with the spread of the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

This unique group of people retain many old-believers traditions until today : baptism by submersion, authority of a man is undeniable, unison singing, canonical icon painting, special prayer clothing, for worship they use old-printed liturgical books of 17th century. Old believer church is absolutely another reality, that we do not know a lot about, but on their example, we can see that if you truly believe in something, the manipulation from the state authorities cannot change your values that are known for more than 4 centuries.

It is very important for me to share this unique story since my grandmother Lidiya Vodopyanova was the last person in my family tree who stayed truly devoted to her faith and dedicated to the community of old-believers. In a couple of years the village of Krasilovka will be forgotten and fully abandoned by its people, but it is still very important to keep the memory of this unique community who sacrificed their lives fighting for their freedom of choice and human rights.


In the memory of my grandmother - Lidiya Vodopyanova


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