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Women in Nineteenth-Century Russia

 | 
Wendy Rosslyn
, 
Alessandra Tosi

4. Mary and Women in Late Imperial Russian Orthodoxy

Vera Shevzov

Texte intégral

  • 1 Research for this essay was conducted with the generous support of a grant from the National Endowm (...)
  • 2 . Pokhvala Presviatoi Deve Bogoroditse. Izbrannyie dushepoleznyie prosheniia, stikhotvoreniia, pove (...)
  • 3 . Vera Shevzov, Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 (...)

1In a recent collection of essays on people’s sacred worlds and the academic study of them, historian Robert Orsi has suggested that we think about religion in terms of relationships that believers form with holy figures. ’These relationships have all the complexities’, he maintains, ’of relationships between humans’.1 If we apply this approach to modern Russia, it quickly becomes evident that the study of women in Orthodox Christianity inevitably leads to, if not begins with, a study of women’s relationship with Mary, the Birth-giver of God (Bogoroditsa). Ubiquitously present through her countless images that were located in homes, churches, roadside chapels, marketplaces and sometimes even taverns, Mary was a steadfast reference point in the lives of Orthodox women in the late Imperial period. Supported by an Orthodox belief that her intercessional powers alone could be more effective than the prayers of the entire faith community, Orthodox women turned readily to Mary in moments of need, distress and thanksgiving.2 Though often confined to oral culture, women’s experiences with Mary and her icons were also recorded in petitions to Church authorities regarding the special veneration of Marian images, and in logs kept in churches that housed her miracle-working icons.3 In this sense, Russia’s Orthodox women from all social and economic backgrounds contributed to sustaining Mary’s life in modern Russia no less than her image contributed to sustaining theirs.

2Relationships between women and Mary in modern Russia, however, were highly complex and remain difficult to characterize, in part because of their personal nature. To a large extent, they were formed by associations visually prompted by Marian icons and by the stories associated with them. They also depended in large part on each woman’s individual disposition, hopes, fears, and desires. At the same time, Orthodox women’s conceptions of the woman whom they so revered and the devotional relationship they developed with her were also informed by a broader array of sources. Women’s notions about Mary were animated by a rich, though eclectic, narrative culture that included scripture, liturgical celebrations honouring specific events in Mary’s life, prayers and hymns in her honour, sermons, and, by the mid-nineteenth century, a growing body of devotional literature. In order to gain a sense of the narrative pool from which Russian Orthodox believers in general, and women in particular, might have drawn in forging their relationships with Mary, this essay focuses on a body of hagiographical Marian literature widely circulated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, commonly entitled The Earthly Life of the Most-Holy Birth-Giver of God (Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi Bogoroditsy).

  • 4 . For examples, see Rossiiskii etnograficheskii muzei, f. 7 (Tenishev), d. 1252, l. 4 (diocese of O (...)
  • 5 . M. E., Bogoslovskii bibliograficheskii listok za 1891. Prilozhenie k zhurnalu Rukovodstvo dlia se (...)

3This genre of literature warrants attention for several reasons. First, numerous accounts of Mary’s life were published in Russia in the nineteenth century, and the number of editions and versions significantly increased during the second half of that century. Sold in villages by itinerant peddlers, the work was commonly found in peasant homes and rural libraries, along with the expected saints’ lives, Psalters and prayer books.4 In addition, Mary’s life was a customary topic in preaching and periliturgical discussions (vnebogosluzhebnye besedy). Indeed, a review of one version of such a Life, that appeared in 1891 in the Theological Bibliographical Bulletin (Bogoslovskii bibliograficheskii listok), maintained that clergy would find it a rich source for their sermons.5

  • 6 . Part of a well-known Byzantine hymn in honour of the Mother of God; usually attributed to St Cosm (...)

4These texts are also notable in that they compel us to reconsider the notion of Mariology in late Imperial Russia and the relationship between images of Mary and the expected roles of women in family, church and society. Most Orthodox Christians at that time probably would have agreed with the view of the dean of the Moscow Theological Academy, Archimandrite Aleksei Rzhanitsyn, who maintained that the essence of the Orthodox teaching on Mary, the Bogoroditsa, was best expressed in the words of a familiar prayer, ’More honourable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without defilement gave birth to God the Word, true Birth-giver of God, we magnify you’.6 Yet in contemplating the meaning of these words, not all believers would necessarily have followed the classical, doctrinal direction he took in an 1848 essay, in which he analysed the titles, Birth-giver of God (Bogoroditsa) and Ever-Virgin (Prisnodeva), only in light of her son and the Incarnation. While probably no one would have argued against that approach, we can well imagine that many nineteenth-century women would have been inspired to expound upon Mary’s sanctity in a different way, namely by considering her life as she may have lived it. Published accounts of Mary’s life offered believers narratives that helped to cultivate such inspiration and the imagination that it fuelled. Moreover, the fact that the Lives were welcomed by clergy and laity suggests that they exerted pressure neither from above, nor from below, on Marian beliefs and piety, but reflected a tacitly accepted, and in many ways ’standard’ impression of her in late Imperial Russia.

5This essay examines the images of Mary, particularly in terms of her motherhood, as presented in the published Lives in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in order to appreciate the variety of associations regarding her powerful image that were available to Orthodox women during this period. Because these Lives were composed and published at the same time that currents from the feminist movement in the West were impressing Russian society, this essay also considers the image of Mary as presented in Orthodox – mainly clerical – responses to that movement. Read in the light of these clerical responses, the published Lives of Mary take on added meaning in terms of defining the traditional Orthodox depiction of Mary and explaining Mary’s unabated appeal among Russia’s women of faith.

The published Lives of Mary: Sources and Inspiration

  • 7 . ’The Protevangelium of James’, ed. by Oscar Cullmann, in New Testament Apocrypha, I, ed. by Wilhe (...)
  • 8 . Vladimir Sakharov, ’Apokrificheskie i legendarnyie skazaniia o Presviatoi Deve Marii, osobenno ra (...)
  • 9 . Protierei I. Smirnov, ’Apokrificheskie skazaniia o Bozhiei Materi i deianiiakh apostolov’, Pravos (...)

6Published accounts of Mary’s life in nineteenth-century Russia were not original in the usual understanding of that term. As early as the mid-second century, curiosity concerning the woman who bore and raised Jesus, as well as disputes about that woman’s identity, led to the formulation of early Christian accounts of Mary’s early life.7 By the late fourth and fifth centuries Christians also told stories about her death.8 Throughout the Byzantine period, select stories and episodes from her life shaped the Christian understandings of Mary by their influence on preaching, iconography, and hymnody. The homilies of such well known patristic authors as Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373), John Chrysostom (d. 407), Andrew of Crete (d. 720 or 740), Germanus, archbishop of Constantinople (d. 733 or 740) and John of Damascus (d. 749), all reflected the influence of such apocryphal accounts. Given their widespread influence in Byzantium, it is not surprising that stories concerning Mary’s life, including the Protevangelium of James and narratives concerning her death, were part of the ’international collection’ of apocryphal texts that ancient Russia inherited from Byzantium following the Christianization of Rus’ in the ninth and tenth centuries.9

  • 10 . Episkop Porfirii (Uspenskii), Istoriia Afona v dvukh tomakh, 2 vols (1892; reprint, Moscow: DAR, (...)
  • 11 . Episkop Porfirii, Istoriia Afona, I, 201–12.

7Apocryphal texts in general, including those concerning Mary, were ambiguously positioned in Orthodox Christianity in nineteenth-century Russia. On the one hand, the Church recognized the distinction between canonical and non-canonical texts and maintained that the latter often contained fabricated embellishments to biblical narratives. Some churchmen went even further and attempted to demythologize certain Marian-related apocryphal accounts since they only ’supported fabrications which were intolerable in the Christian Church’.10 In his history of Mount Athos, for instance, the archaeologist and bishop Porfirii (Uspenskii) challenged a story about a reported visit of Mary to Mount Athos following the death and resurrection of Jesus, a story often included in nineteenth-century Lives of Mary. By demonstrating that the story was a popular local Athonite legend on which Georgian monks from the Iveron monastery on Athos had capitalized in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Uspenskii hoped to curtail any damage that ’pious falsehoods’ might inflict on the ’holy truth’.11

  • 12 . Mil’kov, Drevnerusskie apokrify, pp. 59–60; Henry J. Cooper, Slavic Scriptures: The Formation of (...)

8On the other hand, such caution could only go so far. Various apocryphal stories dating from the second to the tenth centuries, as well as patristic writings concerning the life and character of Mary, were woven into the analytically elusive yet palpable fabric of Orthodoxy known as tradition. In ancient Russia, such apocryphal stories were embedded in collections with canonical texts, including biblical texts, suggesting that the boundary between the two often had been vague at best.12 In the first part of the sixteenth century, the future metropolitan of Moscow, Makarii, oversaw the gathering of such sacred writings along with hundreds of texts concerning saints and feasts into a monumental collection of daily readings – the menologion (Chet’i-Minei). Subsequently, in the early eighteenth century, the bishop of Rostov, Dimitrii, completed his own version of the menologion that also contained material drawn from Western sources, such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. By including apocryphal stories associated with Mary in their collections, Metropolitan Makarii (Bulgakov) of Moscow (d. 1563) and Metropolitan Dimitrii (Tuptalo) of Rostov (d. 1709) sanctioned and reaffirmed their place in Orthodox devotional knowledge.

  • 13 . Stephen Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus and the Early Church according to th (...)
  • 14 . Slovar’ knizhnikov i knizhnosti Drevnei Rusi, ed. by D. S. Likhachev, vyp. 1 (Leningrad: Nauka, 1 (...)

9While stories concerning Mary’s early life and death developed independently early in the history of Christianity, as a literary genre, the hagiographical Life of Mary appeared later. Marian hagiographies that combined descriptions of her early years, as depicted in the Protevangelium of James, with those of her later years, as depicted in stories about her death, appeared in Byzantine monastic circles as early as the sixth or seventh century and subsequently found their way to the medieval West.13 In Russia, the genre of Mary’s Life was known by at least the fourteenth century, with some scholars indicating its importance in the composition of lives of medieval and early modern Russian saints.14

  • 15 . The complete title of Goliatovskii’s work, initially published in Polish, was Nebo novoe, s novym (...)
  • 16 . M. L’Abbé Orsini, Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, taken from the Traditions of th (...)

10In the modern period, inspiration to pen these lives in Russia came primarily from the Ukraine, through the work of the seventeenth-century preacher and archimandrite of the Chernigov monastery, Ioannikii Galiatovskii (d. 1688). His well-known collection of Marian miracles, The New Heaven (Nebo novoe), incorporated not only ancient Byzantine and Russian narratives about Mary, but also details of her life that had come to be known primarily in the Roman catholic West.15 It is noteworthy that Russia’s nineteenth-century interest in Mary’s life also found a parallel in Europe, where during the first half of that century a well-received Life of Mary composed in France by Abbot Orsini was published and subsequently translated into English, Italian, Spanish, and German.16 It is difficult to establish for certain, however, the extent to which this work or others like it were known or read in Russia.

  • 17 . Velichie Presviatyia Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii (Moscow: Universitetskaia tipografiia, 1845) (...)

11By the nineteenth century, then, stories about Mary’s life had already enjoyed quasi-canonical status in Russia for centuries insofar as they had informed liturgical hymnody and iconography. Consequently, Russia’s believers would have attributed a semblance of authority to them. To question the authenticity of even select strands of such narratives could potentially call into question the authority ascribed to tradition more broadly speaking. Not surprisingly, therefore, in describing his source base, one author of a Life of Mary, composed in 1845, maintained that the Orthodox church ’preserves’ and ’respects’ such stories about Mary ’because they carry the imprint of apostolic times and are entirely compatible with the Word of God’, thereby attributing to them a sense of authenticity, if not historical accuracy.17

  • 18 . Thomas A. Kselman, Miracles and Prophecies in Nineteenth-Century France (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutge (...)
  • 19 . E. Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle (St Petersburg, Izd. ’Sel’skogo vestnika’, 1913), p. 4.

12What might explain the resurgence and popularity of this genre in nineteenth-century Russia? In part, these Lives exemplified the broader upsurge in the production of devotional literature in Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century and, in particular, of Marian devotional literature. Such an interest in her life might also be viewed as part of broader devotional trends sweeping through Europe, in which Mary figured prominently. With the reports of appearances of Mary in La Salette (France, 1856), Lourdes (1858), Marpingen (Germany, 1876) and Knock (Ireland, 1879), the nineteenth century has been referred to as the start of the ’age of Mary’. Believers’ experience of Mary in nineteenth-century Russia, especially through her countless icons, was no less evident. Her Life provided a background and character to the woman who was portrayed on these revered images and helped to facilitate a relationship with her.18 Evgenii Poselianin, a compiler of such a Life, reminded his readers that they ’did not have to sail from Antioch to Jerusalem in order to enter into a relationship with the Mother of God’. Such a relationship was possible through meditation and prayer, imaginative recollection and an ’exalted gaze’ upward from ’worldly strife’.19

  • 20 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 50.
  • 21 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), pp. i-ii. For a later editio (...)
  • 22 . Velichie Presviatyia Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii, p. 3.

13Imagination played a key role in these devotional texts. They documented centuries of imaginative Christians thinking from such diverse places as Constantinople, Syria, Jerusalem, Crete and Rome, as well as encouraged creative thought on the part of their readers. The genre’s very raison d’être – filling in the conspicuous lacunae left by canonical scriptures – motivated devotional elaboration. By ’piously exerting their imaginations’, wrote Evgenii Poselianin, readers could surmise what might have taken place in Mary’s life.20 Moreover, the fact that many of these Lives often told similar, yet not identical, stories, tacitly encouraged and sanctioned such creative reflection. Not only was such meditation not harmful or frivolous; it was, in fact, a matter of devotional etiquette. Compilers of Mary’s life insisted that given the extent to which believers turned to her for guidance and inspiration, believers were ’obligated to know the circumstances of her [own] life’.21 Such knowledge would be both ’comforting and edifying’.22

  • 23 . Episkop Iustin, Pouchenie v chest’ i slavu Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Afonskii russkii Pant (...)
  • 24 . Alexandre-Joseph de Rouville, Imitation de la très Sainte Vierge: sur le modèle de l’imitation de (...)

14The popularity of the genre might also be explained by a spirituality that encouraged an imitation of Mary. Such imitation was a common theme in Orthodoxy in pre-revolutionary Russia. Clergy especially addressed this topic on the occasions of her feast days, when they encouraged such imitation in their sermons. Only by imitating the ’inner image’ of Mary, Bishop Iustin (Polianskii) of Riazan’ stated in 1900, could believers ’maturely’ fulfill Christ’s directives.23 In 1894 the widely-distributed journal, the Russian Pilgrim (Russkii palomnik), even republished a modified and highly-edited translation of an eighteenth-century work by the French Jesuit Alexander- Joseph de Rouville called The Imitation of Mary (O podrazhanii Presviatoi Deve Marii), a sequel of sorts to Thomas à Kempis’ famous Life of Christ. To some extent, the longing to know more about Mary’s life was related to a desire to imitate her.24

  • 25 . Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia khristianom (Moscow: Tip. Pogodina, 1871).
  • 26 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i Prisno – Devy Marii sostavlennaia na osnovanii sviashchen (...)

15Furthermore, the proliferation of versions of Mary’s Life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries took place at a time when the quest for the historical Jesus among Western biblical scholars was well underway. In Russia, these influences were felt on the more popular level by means of the circulation of such books as Ernest Renan’s famous The Life of Jesus in 1863 (Russian translation abroad, 1864) and Lev Tolstoi’s various essays regarding Christianity that followed his Confession (Ispoved’) in 1879. While the authors of the versions of the Life of Mary did not refer to the modern Lives of Jesus, their compositions, nevertheless, reflect sensitivity towards history and a desire to present their accounts as ’factual’, despite their mythological character. For instance, in order to give his account added authority, one anonymous compiler made sure to identify the authors of relevant ancient sources as historians.25 In addition, such Lives frequently described the environment of the Holy Land, often including illustrations to ground their narratives geographically. Some compilers also attempted to provide broader historical contexts for their stories. In relating the story of the wedding at Cana, for example, one compiler described what he considered to be a typical Jewish wedding of the time. Another presented evidence for consecrated virgins living in the temple during this period as a context for the story of Mary’s presentation into the temple.26

  • 27 . Zhizn’ preblagoslovennoi vladychitsy nasheia Bogoroditsy Prisnodevy Marii, comp. by Ieromonakh St (...)
  • 28 . Although it is impossible to identify the compilers of all of the versions of the published Lives (...)

16Finally, the late nineteenth century offered greater opportunity for authorship of such texts. No longer was the compilation of such publications a predominantly monastic occupation. Among more than two dozen accounts of Mary’s life, only four can be directly identified with a monastic context: two were penned by monastics and two others were published by monastery presses.27 Several texts remain anonymous. The identifiable compilers include an interesting mix of urban and rural priests, deacons, a professor at a theological academy, lay men and even two lay women who were known for their careers in the literary world: the translator and devotional writer Avdot’ia Pavlovna Glinka (1795–1863) and Sof’ia Ivanovna Snessoreva (1816–1904).28 The experience of marriage and family in many of these cases introduced a new working context for the narration of Mary’s life.

  • 29 . For biographical information on Avdot’ia Pavlovna Glinka, see N. L., O zhizni i konchine Avdot’i (...)
  • 30 . Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy po knigam Chet’i-Mineiam, comp. by Avdot’ia Glinka, 14th edn ( (...)
  • 31 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 7.

17We can see some of the motivations that led to the compilation of these Lives in the foreword that Avdot’ia Glinka, wife of the poet and essayist Fedor Glinka, provided to her book, The Life of the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God According to the Books of the Menalogion (Zhizn’ presviatoi Devy Bogoroditsy po knigam Chet’i-Mineiam), first published in 1840.29 Having compiled her work from the references to Mary in the Menalogion (Chet’i-Minei) by Dimitrii, Metropolitan of Rostov, Glinka stated that she had been inspired to take on this project for two reasons.30 First, she believed such a text would provide people with a relatively complete Life of the Mother of God, which could serve as spiritual inspiration and edification. She noted that she had enjoyed spiritual benefit while working on this project. As she wrote, the scenes frequently brought tears of compunction to her eyes: ’I acknowledge – no one secular book […] has had such a touching effect on me’.31

  • 32 . In the preface to his work, Abbot Orsini had indicated that one of the reasons for compiling the (...)
  • 33 . V. Grechulevich, ’Skazaniia o zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy s izlozheniem ucheniia Tserkvi (...)

18Second, Glinka was sensitive to the dilemmas of Christianity in a modernizing world, a sentiment shared by Abbot Orsini with regard to his compilation of a Life of Mary in France.32 Glinka wished to make Mary’s life more accessible to the common, secular ear; hence, she translated the relevant passages from the Slavonic menalogion into modern Russian, an effort Orthodox clergy found commendable.33 Glinka’s progressive efforts proved fruitful. Her version of the Earthly Life was an immediate success; by 1915 it had gone through sixteen editions.

  • 34 . For Snessoreva’s autobiographical reflections, see S. I. Snessoreva, ’Avtobiograficheskiia zapisk (...)
  • 35 . For correspondence between Ignatii Brianchaninov and Sof’ia Snessoreva, see ’Pis’ma sviatitelia I (...)
  • 36 . Bogoslovskii bibliograficheskii listok, 463.
  • 37 . Derek Krueger, Writing and Holiness: The Practice of Authorship in the Early Christian East (Univ (...)

19Sof’ia Snessoreva, whose Life of Mary (Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi Bogoroditsy i opisanie sviatykh chudotvornykh ee ikon) was published some fifty years later (1891), seems to have been motivated by similar sensibilities. A translator, Snessoreva had worked for such well-known publications as Library for Reading (Biblioteka dlia chteniia), Collection of Foreign Novels (Sobranie inostrannykh romanov), and Notes of the Fatherland (Otechestvennye zapiski).34 Her life path eventually led her to become a spiritual daughter of the well-known monastic writer and later bishop, Ignatii Brianchaninov. He, in turn, drew upon her connections to the literary world and became indebted to her for the publication of many of his works.35 Though she clearly loved her work as a translator of secular European literature, under the encouragement and influence of Brianchaninov, Snessoreva began writing spiritual works, culminating with the publication of a Life of Mary when she was 83. Like Glinka, she too, was moved by Mary. As one reviewer of her book wrote, her work ’is permeated with and warmed by the religious sensibilities of its author’.36 Yet unlike Glinka, whose work drew almost exclusively on Metropolitan Dimitrii of Rostov’s menologion, Snessoreva culled from a wide variety of sources, including the fourteenth-century Byzantine historian Nicephorus Callistus Zanathopoulos (d. 1335). Comparable to the work of hagiographers in late antiquity, Glinka’s and Snessoreva’s work with Mary’s life became a means of not only expressing their own devotion but, as Derek Kruger has observed, ’a technology for its cultivation’.37

  • 38 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, p. 455.

20The Byzantine predecessors of Russia’s nineteenth-century Lives of Mary exhibited two tendencies with respect to her portrayal. According to the historian of Christianity, Stephen Shoemaker, the first tendency appeared in a Life of the Virgin, dating back as early as the seventh century; it emphasized Mary’s active presence during Jesus’ ministry and in the early Christian community after his death. According to this seventh-century Life, Mary was active during her son’s ministry as a leader and guardian of the women who followed him. This early text also depicted her as the sole witness to the resurrection. She announced the glad tidings to the disciples and to the myrrh-bearing women. Finally, this Life placed the Mother of God at the centre of the Christian community following Jesus’ ascension: ’She was a leader and a teacher to the holy apostles’, the text states.38

  • 39 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, p. 458.

21Another Life of Mary that appeared later in monastic circles (in the ninth and tenth centuries) exhibits a second tendency. The extent to which it minimises Mary’s role, both during Jesus’ ministry and in the early years of the Christian community, is striking. This Life of Mary, composed by Epiphanius the Monk in Constantinople in the ninth century, did not even mention her presence at the wedding at Cana. Similarly, Mary neither bore witness to the resurrection, nor was among the women who found the empty tomb. Instead, this Life portrayed her as having stayed at home because her grief was too great.39

  • 40 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Tsaritsy Nebesnoi (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1913).

22The numerous Lives of Mary published in nineteenth-century Russia generally fall between these two types. Some versions of her Life stray little from the Gospel texts.40 The majority of Lives, however, follow the chronology of the biblical narrative, but draw to one degree or another on the apocryphal narratives that describe Mary’s birth, childhood and death, as well as writings attributed (sometimes falsely) to such well-known Christian authors as Ignatius of Antioch, Andrew of Crete, John Chrysostom and Ambrose of Milan, among others. The Lives also sometimes make extensive use of liturgical texts, hymnody and whatever else their compilers assumed as belonging under the canopy of ’tradition’, and therefore worthy of communication. In the end, the Lives are distinguished from one another not only by the stories the compilers chose to include, but also by the compiler’s own intermittent interpretation and commentary.

The Life of Mary: Vocation and Motherhood

  • 41 . As examples, see P. S. Kazanskii, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Izd. Elag (...)
  • 42 . Raduisia Blagodatnaia, Gospod’ s Toboiu. Blagochestivyia razmyshleniia o rozhdenii, zemnoi zhizni (...)
  • 43 . Raduisia Blagodatnaia, Gospod’ s Toboiu (Moscow: Universitetskaia tip, 1859); Zemnaia zhizn’ Pres (...)

23The Lives of Mary, though often similar in terms of chapter composition, varied in style and emphasis. Some compilers, for instance, wove their narrative voices freely into the text; others chose a more reserved approach and focused more strictly on the New Testament and traditional liturgical texts.41 Some compilations read as weighty panegyrics that meditated on Mary as an ’imprint of perfection’, upon whom God continually gazed ’with eyes of favour’.42 Such Lives often opened with a review of the classical biblical prefigurations and prophecies that ancient Christians believed had foretold Mary’s role in salvation history.43 Others, while never losing sight of her perceived unique role in salvation history, steered their readers toward considering the complications, dilemmas, challenges and dangers that Mary humanly faced despite that role. Amid the sometimes subtle differences in presentation and emphases, three characteristic features of Mary in these Lives come into relief when considering images of Mary in pre-revolutionary Russia: her character, her maternal experiences and her leadership role.

  • 44 . For examples where compilers emphasized Mary’s intellectual acumen and enlightened mind, see Zemn (...)
  • 45 . S. I. Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: I. L. Tuzov, 1898), p. 20 (...)
  • 46 . For examples, see Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy p. 45; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bog (...)
  • 47 . As examples, see Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 48; O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bo (...)

24In addition to depicting Mary as educated, hard-working (especially after Joseph’s death), courageous (muzhestvennaia) and, in some instances, even politically aware, the Lives consistently portray Mary as a woman very much attuned to her own vocation, willing to defy convention in order to follow that perceived calling, despite the seemingly contradictory ways it led her.44 For instance, her self-imposed vow of virginity, which resulted from this sense of vocation, functioned as a sign of independence from hierarchical structures. According to most nineteenth-century accounts of Mary’s Life, the temple priests were confounded by Mary’s decision to forego marriage in order to remain a virgin. Glinka and Snessoreva, along with other compilers, maintained that the high priests were caught off-guard by her ’strong determination’ and ’firm response’, as well as by the ’novelty’ of her decision.45 They recalled no precedent for such a decision.46 Similarly, the Lives state that even after her betrothal to the eighty-year-old widower Joseph, Mary continued to live according to her perceived calling and did not unequivocally conform to the life of Joseph’s busy household. She seems to have lived in Joseph’s home but did not, at least at first, forego her aspirations in order to cultivate family bonds.47 Her vocation took precedence.

  • 48 . I. E. Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy, 2nd edn (Moscow: L. F. Snegirev, 1885).
  • 49 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 18; Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ (...)
  • 50 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 236.

25At the same time, in contrast to the Gospel texts in which family was redefined largely in terms of discipleship, many of the Lives are significantly more sensitive to traditional family bonds. The deacon, I. E. Rozanov, for example, emphasized the spiritual benefits and joys of family life and considered the nature of human bonding unique to the parent-child relationship.48 This is also evident with respect to the portrayal of Mary’s alleged parents. Some versions of Mary’s life depict Joachim and Anna hesitating to fulfil their vow of dedicating Mary to the temple. Instead, a determined three-year-old Mary convinces them to let her go. Similarly, in some versions, Anna not only regularly visits Mary, but, along with Joachim, eventually moves to Jerusalem in order to be closer to her daughter and to participate in her upbringing. When Joachim dies, some Lives note that Anna moves in with Mary and spends the last two years of her life with her.49 In her compilation, Glinka included a discussion of the feast of the Annunciation by the Archbishop of Tver, Grigorii (Postnikov), in which he linked the power of Mary’s prayer to the lack of parental love. She engaged in prayer, he maintained, ’when the emptiness of her heart desired fullness’.50

  • 51 . The four scenes include: 1) Mark 3:31–35 with parallels in Matthew 12:46–50 and Luke 8:19–21; 2) (...)
  • 52 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 51; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow, Tip. A. Se (...)
  • 53 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, (...)

26The Gospel texts offer scant insights into Mary’s life and disposition during the years of Jesus’ youth and ministry. Only two, the Gospel according to Matthew and the Gospel according to Luke, relate any details about Mary and her infant son. After their brief mention of Jesus’ birth and, in Matthew, the family’s flight to Egypt and eventual return to Nazareth, these texts offer readers only four glimpses of Mary for the duration of Jesus’ short life.51 The nineteenth-century Lives of Mary often recognize this conspicuous lacuna in Scripture and address it. Several compilers reflected upon the anonymity of motherhood and its consequences. As an ’invisible’ period in a mother’s life, the years of child-rearing generally escape historical attention. Mary, in this sense, was no different from other mothers.52 In an attempt to rehabilitate this anonymity, one version of Mary’s life reminded its readers that often it was not the most conspicuous actions in history, but the ’inner’, not immediately evident, ones that ultimately proved historically most significant.53

  • 54 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow, Tip. A. Semena, 1863), pp. 30–31; Snessoreva, Zem (...)
  • 55 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i ee chudesa (Moscow: Izd. Gubanova, 1886), p. 25; O zemnoi (...)
  • 56 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, pp. 50–51, 54.
  • 57 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 56.

27Other authors attempted to dispel the ’deep anonymity’ and ’impenetrable veil’ of silence surrounding Mary’s motherhood by encouraging readers to imagine her hypothetical conversations with Jesus, when they ’inclined their heads together’. It was at these moments that he may have disclosed mysteries known to her alone.54 While some versions of Mary’s Life predictably maintain that Jesus, as the Word of God incarnate, needed no instruction, others emphasize that he followed the development laws of all children. Hence, Mary’s and Joseph’s roles were not superfluous in his upbringing.55 Evgenii Poselianin emphasized that the holy family was a working family and that Mary, too, worked. As a single mother following Joseph’s death, her work only increased so as to be able to support her son.56 Another compiler, who composed a Life for public reading groups among ’the people’, specifically noted that Mary took on the education of her son and served as an example to parents in child-rearing.57

  • 58 . As examples, see Stul’tsev, Zhizn’ presviatyia vladychitsy nasheia Bogoroditsy, p. 67; Zemnaia zh (...)
  • 59 . Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, (...)
  • 60 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 51; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), p. (...)
  • 61 . Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi, p. 22.

28Texts are more divided with respect to Mary’s role during Jesus’ ministry. Some versions of Mary’s Life maintain that, despite scriptural silence on the matter, Mary was undoubtedly among the women who followed Jesus throughout his ministry.58 The version of Mary’s Life that originated in the Skete of the prophet Elijah on Mount Athos, for instance, agrees that while Mary was present in Jesus’ company throughout his ministry and served as an inspiration for the other women in the group, she at no time manifested her ’maternal rights’ over him. In other words, the compiler of this text made a point to emphasize that Mary’s sphere of influence did not extend to the content of Jesus’ ministry.59 Other versions of Mary’s life, such as Snessoreva’s, left Mary outside the purview of Jesus’ ministry altogether, maintaining that Mary spent very little time with him during those years.60 While authors often attempted to decipher the meaning of scriptural silence regarding this period in Mary’s life, few actually interpreted it as an overt virtue, as did the rural priest M. Sokolov from the Smolensk diocese. In his version of Mary’s Life, he maintained that ’nothing better demonstrated the Holy Virgin’s humility and meekness than her silence during Jesus’ ministry’.61

  • 62 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 55.

29Despite their views on Mary’s whereabouts during the three years of Jesus’ active ministry, all versions of Mary’s Life have her joining him in Jerusalem for his final days. From this point, as Snessoreva reported, Mary remained as close to her son as possible and if she did not visually witness the events that unfolded, then at least she heard what transpired.62 Accordingly, compilers often retained the ancient tradition that considered Mary a unique witness to the last days of Jesus’ life.

  • 63 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy: Narodnye chteniia (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. (...)
  • 64 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. A. Semena, 1863), pp. 40–41; Zemnaia zhizn’ (...)
  • 65 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, pp. 56, 61. Also see, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Mos (...)

30Mary’s motherhood comes into particular relief in descriptions of her experiences during the final hours of her son’s life. All of the texts dwell on her maternal agony in the face of the excruciating torture of her only child. Some Lives depict her as making a desperate appeal to Pilate in person.63 The depth of this agony explains why, according to many compilers, Jesus did not address Mary as ’mother’ in his last words to her on the Cross; instead he chose the more formal ’woman’, trying to spare her grief.64 Several versions even attempt to penetrate the character of that suffering. The well-known devotional writer, Evgenii Poselianin, described in most compelling terms the inner turmoil and anguish of a woman torn between a deep faith in, and understanding of, the cause for which her son chose to die and her profound, unique and unrepeatable bond with an only child. Even at this final stand, according to Poselianin, ’a secret, silent conversation, never recognized by the world’, took place between mother and son.65

  • 66 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago, sv. Proroka Il’ii skita (...)
  • 67 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 60. Other examples where Mary was portrayed as the first witness t (...)

31Because of the power and privilege of motherhood, the majority of the Lives did not accept at face value Scripture’s silence regarding Mary’s witness of the resurrection. After all, claimed one anonymous compiler, ’she undoubtedly had more right to see the Saviour’ than anyone else.66 Accordingly, the Lives of Mary often follow the ancient tradition that places Mary as the first witness to the resurrection. Some versions also included the ancient explanation of why such an important ’fact’ was not included in the Gospel accounts. Compilers maintained that this detail was omitted so as not to give anyone pause to doubt the resurrection, since mothers can be biased. For this reason Mary herself forbade the disciples to speak about her or her testimonies directly.67

  • 68 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 70.
  • 69 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 35. For other exam (...)
  • 70 . Glinka, Zemnaia zhizn’ Bogoroditsy, p. 149.
  • 71 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 60; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, (...)
  • 72 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 146–47; Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia (...)

32Finally, the nineteenth-century Lives of Mary included those scenes from ancient narratives that depicted her as an influential teacher and administrator in the life of the early Church. One version refers to her as the ’focal point’ of the young Christian community.68 Fearlessly, claimed Snessoreva, ’she directed the first steps of the infant church’ and guided the apostles on their missionary itineraries. According to the nineteenth-century Lives, Mary also reportedly participated in missionary work, which, in one account, earned her the title of ’holy preacher’ (sviataia propovednitsa).69 The apostles routinely turned to her for guidance and support, seeing in her ’the face of their Lord’.70 Moreover, because she was the first to comprehend the significance of the events surrounding the life and death of her son, she was the ’Apostle to the apostles’, speaking words as if from the lips of the Lord himself.71 New members of the young community would travel from afar to hear her speak. As the primary source of information concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that were known only to her as his mother, she was not only a source of inspiration but, as Glinka’s compilation suggests, one of the primary sources for the Gospel narrative.72

  • 73 . Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi Bogoroditsy i ee chudesa (Moscow: E. A. Gubanov, 1886).
  • 74 . As examples, see Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi (St Petersburg: Tip. Tovarishchestva ’Obshchestve (...)

33Throughout most of the nineteenth century, the published Lives of Mary typically end with her death or dormition. Occasionally, authors added a chapter on Mary’s appearances after her death, and one version added a chapter on posthumous miracles attributed to her.73 During the second quarter of the nineteenth century, however, accounts of Mary’s life increasingly began to include a compendium of images of Russia’s most specially-revered Marian icons and the miracle stories associated with them. Prior to this time, Mary’s life and the compendia of her miracle-working images were for the most part published separately. Combining the two genres offered an added dimension, both to Mary’s life, and to her miracle-working images. On the one hand, the combined genre expanded the scope and meaning of Mary’s life and motherhood. With Mary’s life now encompassing the chronicles associated with her icons, her authority, identity and meaning were no longer simply a part of the past, but were confirmed as relating to the present.74 The life of Mary in the devotional imagination did not cease with her death. On the other hand, the combined genre also effectively dispelled modern inclinations to separate the ’unmodern’ or perceived superstitious phenomenon of miracle-working icons from the Orthodox tradition of Marian veneration. Finally, by being linked to a narrative of Mary’s life that was based primarily on scripture, patristic writings and hymnography, as well as on generally accepted ancient apocryphal stories, Russia’s myriad of miracle-working icons of Mary, though visually manifold, were unified in light of Mary’s life. The Life of Mary, in other words, focused the believer’s gaze before the believer’s attention became redirected to the multitude of her icons, each with its own complex story.

The Appeal of Mary’s Life in late Imperial Russia

  • 75 . For an excellent and insightful overview of Orthodox clergy’s views on the nature and roles of wo (...)

34The popular appeal of Mary’s life for Russia’s Orthodox women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is difficult to gauge. The direct testimonies of Glinka’s and Senssoreva’s work and the indirect evidence that these Lives were sold by traveling peddlers, found in peasant homes and in rural and urban libraries suggests that Orthodox women in Russia were familiar with these accounts. Moreover, since clergy turned to Mary’s life as a source for preaching and public discussion, many women would have been comfortable with the process of imagining the character of her life. One way to consider the potential impact of these accounts is to read them in light of Orthodox responses to the women’s movement in the late Imperial period.75 In what way did the image of Mary, as presented in the Lives, correspond to the ideals and images of women, in particular Mary, described in these responses to the women’s movement?

  • 76 . As an example, see I. Galakhov, ’Zhenskii vopros, ego prichiny i otsenki s khristianskoi tochki z (...)
  • 77 . Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie Khristianskoi zhenshchiny: rech’ vospitannitsam, okonchivshim ku (...)

35In essays and sermons that directly addressed issues the women’s movement raised, churchmen generally agreed on the essential equality by nature of men and women, basing their views either on the creation story in Genesis (1:26–31; 2:4–25) or on Paul’s assertion in his letter to the Galatians (3:29), that there is neither male nor female ’in Christ’. In the essential matters of redemption, salvation and the Kingdom of God, they thus maintained no differences between men and women.76 Such essential equality, they often argued, was a unique trait of Christianity that set it apart from other religions in the world of late antiquity.77

  • 78 . Preosviashchennyi Nikanor, episkop Ufimskii, ’Ideal zhenshchiny khristianki: Pouchenie v den’ Pre (...)
  • 79 . A. N., ’Uchenie apostola Pavla o zhenskom pokryvale i zhenskom tserkovnom uchitel’stve’, Chtenie (...)
  • 80 . Episkop Vissarion, ’Polozhenie lits zhenskago pola’, pp. 346–48.
  • 81 . Nikolai Steletskii, Khristianskoe naznachenie zhenshchiny i zhenskaia emansipatsiia nashego vreme (...)

36At the same time, however, churchmen differed in their evaluations of the distinction between the sexes in this life.78 On the one hand, some churchmen did not share the Orthodox establishment’s view that the image of God shone directly only through men – women reflecting that image only indirectly, by means of their husbands.79 Some clergy dismissed feminist demands for equal rights in the workforce by insisting on women’s inferior intellectual and physical strength.80 As the priest N. Steletskii wrote in 1909, ’we are convinced that to no female is it given to develop genuinely creative activity, to pave the way for new paths in the sciences or the arts, or to produce something that would have true significance in the history of culture and that would facilitate progress’.81

  • 82 . Aleksei Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny. Slovo v den’ rozhdeniia blagochestiveishiia gosud (...)
  • 83 . Nikolai Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia i vysshee obrazovanie zhenshchin s khristianskoi to (...)
  • 84 . Makarii, Episkop Tomskii, Obrazovanie, prava i obiazannosti zhenshchiny (St Petersburg: Obshchest (...)

37On the other hand, in attempting to embrace modern ideals and aspirations, other churchmen were significantly more moderate in their consideration of distinctions between men and women. Describing women as ’equal participants’ in life and equal helpmates on the home front, they also recognized the intellectual acumen of women and argued strongly for their professional education.82 In his support for women’s education, a lay physician writing in the devotional journal, Beneficial Reading for the Soul (Dushepoleznoe chtenie), argued that Christ himself had chosen to discuss complex theological issues with women.83 In a similar vein, the Bishop of Tomsk, Makarii (Nevskii), maintained that women would not only benefit from theological education but from philosophical, mathematical and scientific education as well: ’From among the main fields of human knowledge, there is not one which would not be beneficial to women’.84

  • 85 . For a thorough overview of this issue, see Wagner, ’Orthodox Domesticity’.
  • 86 . Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny’, 75–85; Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie; Steletskii, Khr (...)
  • 87 . Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny’, p. 78; Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia’, p. 148; P (...)

38Despite their diverse evaluations of the differences between men and women, most churchmen in late Imperial Russia agreed that by divine design the two were responsible for different social spheres.85 Writing in 1873, the priest Aleksei Kliucharev described these spheres as two ’worlds’ – a ’macrocosm’ (mir velikii) and a ’microcosm’ (mir malyi). The macrocosm entailed the public social and political spheres of life, while the microcosm referred to the private and familial spheres.86 Few churchmen would have disagreed that a woman’s world – her ’innate kingdom’ and the ’cornerstone of state and society’ – was the family.87 Churchmen differed only as to the degree of the permeability of the two worlds and the extent to which women were free to move between them.

39In their efforts to define women’s roles, clergy drew primarily on the images of women as mothers and helpmates as the main antidote to the growing women’s movement in their midst. Despite Orthodoxy’s traditional estimation of monasticism as the higher form of lifestyle, churchmen paid remarkably little attention to its ideals and virtues when it came to modern women. Instead, they insisted that motherhood and the family belonged to the essence of womanhood.

  • 88 . Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie.
  • 89 . Zhenshchina-Khristianka (Kaluga: Tip. Gubernskago pravleniia, 1912).
  • 90 . Zhenshchina-Khristianka, p. 33.

40Attempting to empower women in their traditional roles, clergy countered associations of family life and marriage with confinement, by arguing for the immense potential influence (social and political) of mothers and wives.88 For instance, given the potential that women held to ’shape the character of the human race’, one priest wondered why a woman would instead desire to participate in government life.89 Another priest maintained that because of women’s associations with life, and the creation of life, as mothers, they were meant to direct culture and history.90

  • 91 . E. P-a., ’Emansipatsiia zhenshchin’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 2 (1864), 317–38. It was highly (...)

41In 1864, an anonymous, Orthodox woman voiced similar sentiments in an unusual essay published in the devotional journal, Beneficial Reading for the Soul. Voicing her concerns about the potential complications the women’s movement might have for children and family life, she advocated a higher social, political and civic evaluation of motherhood. Alluding to her own experiences as a mother, she spoke of the unique position she held, and of the freedom and independence that role gave her, with respect to social influence.91 As mothers and overseers of the ’microcosmic’ or ’inner’ sphere of human life, she maintained, women were positioned at the very core of society, the very functioning of which depended on them.

  • 92 . Dmitrii Derzhavin, ’Doblestnaia zhena po izobrazheniiu Solomona Prit. 31: 10–32’, Dushepoleznoe c (...)
  • 93 . Aleksandr Nadezhdin, ’Zhenshchiny v istorii khristianskoi tserkvi’, Strannik, 12 (1872), 141–86.
  • 94 . Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 7.
  • 95 . Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia’, p. 145.
  • 96 . A. F. Khoinatskii, ’O pritiazaniiakh nekotorykh sovremennykh zhenshchin na sviashennosluzhenie v (...)

42Remarkably, in their response to the women’s movement and their deliberations on the role of women in contemporary society, Orthodox churchmen did not routinely draw on the image of Mary in support of their views or as a model to imitate. When they did introduce her, they spoke of her most often theologically and meta-historically in light of the Incarnation.92 Her role as God-bearer in salvation history, they argued, placed her at the forefront of any discussion of women and liberation for several reasons. Because God had chosen to clothe himself in the humanity of a woman, reasoned Aleksandr Nadezhdin in 1872, there could be no doubt about women’s dignity and glory. Given Mary’s role in salvation history, he argued, any contempt and disrespect for women was ’abnormal’.93 In maintaining that Mary’s role in salvation history ensured the high esteem of women at large, Orthodox churchmen also sometimes considered the classical Christian view of the relationship between Mary and Eve. Through her love and humility, Mary, in this view, willfully ’accepted God into herself’ and thereby restored to all of creation what Eve had lost – namely, a life in communion with God.94 In so doing, Mary was the first genuinely-emancipated woman who not only enjoyed such communion herself, but enabled it for all of creation.95 Writing in 1873, the priest A. Khoinatskii even suggested that in the person of Mary, women might be imagined as occupying a higher place than men in the Kingdom of God, since Mary had proven herself more honourable than even the angelic hosts.96

  • 97 . Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 10; Ioann (Sokolov), episkop Smolenskii, Khristianskoe nazna (...)

43While churchmen readily hailed Mary theologically as the first genuinely emancipated woman, they found more difficulty in convincingly translating that role into their depiction of Mary as a mother in first-century Palestine and as a member of the earliest Christian community. Especially striking was churchmen’s minimization of any potential public leadership roles that Mary might have held among the earliest followers of Jesus. Given the Orthodox understanding of Jesus as the incarnate Logos of God, it is not surprising that neither the Lives of Mary nor churchmen’s responses to the women’s movement offered her a prominent role in Jesus’ ministry. Yet clerical responses to the women’s movement also rarely considered such a role for her in the Christian community even following Jesus’ death and resurrection. Despite their general lauding of what they deemed characteristically female traits – multi-tasking and effective managerial skills – Mary, in their estimation, had ’no independent significance’ in the management of the earliest Christian community.97

  • 98 . It is noteworthy that among the earliest writings addressing women and the priesthood among Ortho (...)
  • 99 . Khoinatskii, ’O pritiazaniiakh nekotorykh sovremennykh zhenshchin’.
  • 100 . Preosviashchennyi Nikanor, episkop Ufimskii, ’Ideal zhenshchiny’, pp. 579–93.
  • 101 . A. N., ’Uchenie apostola Pavla o zhenskom pokryvale’; Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 7.

44In part, churchmen’s minimization of Mary’s role in the post-resurrectional Christian community may have stemmed from their concerns regarding a growing discussion about the ordination of women.98 In an 1873 essay devoted to this topic, the priest A. Khoinatskii insisted that even though Mary lived in the temple during her childhood and had access to the Holy of Holies, she never had a priestly function, nor presided over the Eucharistic meal.99 In 1882, the Bishop of Ufa, Nikanor (Brovkovich), reminded his readers that Mary never performed any liturgical functions in church.100 Furthermore, she did not preach. ’Finding herself in the company of the first Christians’, wrote one anonymous author, she never came forward with a public sermon or public teaching, ’leaving this right to men’.101

  • 102 . Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi (St Petersburg, 1873), pp. 22–23.

45When read in light of churchmen’s reflections on issues stemming from the women’s movement, the Life of Mary takes on added meaning and potential significance. Its inherent appeal for Orthodox women, especially mothers, becomes readily evident. Presented as no less traditional and authoritative than contemporary pastoral voices, stories from these Lives often presented alternative images of the life of the woman and intercessor, to whom most Orthodox women turned in their daily lives. Although on occasion some compilers narrated their version of Mary’s life in light of conventional, clerical sensibilities of the time – stating, for instance, that Mary did not ’mix’ her voice with the voice of the apostles – even these versions usually portrayed Mary as a teacher and missionary following Jesus’ death and resurrection.102 The scattered glimpses of Mary struggling between her will and the divine will, and between her will and established social conventions; bearing the challenges of household and family that seemed at odds with her own vocational calling; facing the anonymity of motherhood; suffering alongside a child and finding herself in an entirely new public role in the later years of her life, offer more existentially gripping images for meditation and imitation, than the somewhat more elusive theological depictions of Mary as a ’vessel’ (sosud) or ’seal of perfection’.

  • 103 . E. Liuleva, Svobodnaia zhenshchina i khristianstvo (Moscow, 1906), p. 7.

46Conceivably, certain episodes in the Lives could have also reverberated with progressive Christian thinking on the ’women’s question’ at that time. One of Russia’s earliest feminist theologians, E. Liuleva, hinted at the sensibilities with which at least some Orthodox women in late Imperial Russia might have approached their faith. In her essay ’The Free Woman and Christianity’, for instance, Liuleva argued that Christ established the foundation for the liberation of women by giving them full access to the Kingdom of God. In so doing, he consistently regarded women as free, independent persons who enjoyed the same rights and 88 Women in Nineteenth-Century Russia capabilities as men in matters of eternal life and the discernment of truth. Liuleva dismissed the conventional argument that women could not be preachers because, according to canonical Scripture, Christ had not chosen women as apostles. Because of historical circumstances, she argued, women preachers would not have been possible in his day. At the same time, Liuleva maintained, the Gospel texts testify that women were heard. Women were ’apostles to the apostles’ since they were the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection; ’There could be no stronger confirmation of women’s full rights and independence’.103

  • 104 . Liuleva, Svobodnaia zhenshchina, pp. 17–22.

47Similarly, in Liuleva’s estimation, traditional Orthodox views of marriage did not reflect the liberating values expressed by Christ in the gospel texts. Since their first responsibility was to their husbands, married women were denied not so much their right as their responsibility to pursue the gospel mandate to seek the Kingdom of God.104 In light of such views, Mary’s Life generally offered a counter image of marriage. In virtually all of these accounts, Mary’s personal vows and ’calling’ remained formative in her relationship with Joseph, though not without causing strain, as the well-known scene of Joseph’s struggles at Mary’s pregnancy illustrates. Indeed, Liuleva singled out Mary as having gained independence on account of her vow of virginity. Generally, those who were familiar with episodes from various versions of Mary’s Life might have easily drawn on them in support of Liuleva’s views.

  • 105 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, 466–67.

48In his essay on the earliest texts of the Life of the Virgin, historian Stephen Shoemaker, considers the potential audiences of the Lives he examined. He wonders, for instance, why the narratives of Mary’s life, that so strongly emphasized her leadership, arose and were popular in all-male monastic circles. ’One might not expect to find such traditions favoured’, he states, ’in an environment as traditionally unwelcoming to women as Mount Athos’.105 Indicating that a Life of Mary did not circulate widely outside monastic circles in the seventh to the tenth centuries, he wonders about the kind of influence such narratives, with their strong emphasis on Mary’s leadership, might have had in a parish setting, where they could have provided models and precedents for women’s roles in the Church.

  • 106 . For an example of ancient writing on Mary that challenged social and political norms in their own (...)

49The resurgence of the genre of the Life of Mary in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russia gives new life to Shoemaker’s hypothetical query and begs questions regarding the transposition of ancient texts into modern times. Although drawing mostly on ancient and medieval narratives – some of which were no less challenging to social and political norms in their own day – Mary’s Life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries takes on new shades of meaning in the context of modernity.106 Although humility, meekness and purity still graced Mary dutifully and dependably in these narratives, these features often receded before, or yielded to, a search for Mary’s more adaptive human qualities as demanded by the notion of earthly life in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russia. Consequently, while not devotionally dismissive of Mary’s unique role in salvation history and of the praise with which she is often lauded, women, and mothers in particular, might, nevertheless, have also identified with, and been emboldened by, her fierce sense of vocation and the fervent way she pursued it, despite the social precepts and political pressures of her times.

  • 107 . For a rich discussion of the role of the imagination in the religious life, see Paul Avis, God an (...)

50At the same time, the potential appeal and influence of many episodes in these Lives for nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Orthodox women from various social backgrounds may well have stemmed not from any perceived novelty in the features of Mary’s life, but precisely from their foundations in what they knew as tradition. Often grounded in the same stories that inspired Church hymnography, Marian feasts and Marian iconography, these Lives encouraged the stirring of the imagination and thereby fostered women’s ’living contact’ with Mary on their terms, while still resonating with the faith community of which they were a part.107 Such freedom within the bounds of tradition not only potentially quickened personal ties between women and Mary, but also showed those bounds to be more yielding than historians often assume.

  • 108 . Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, ’Feminist Theology as a Critical Theology of Liberation’, in Church (...)

51The widespread circulation of her Life and the inclusion of the stories associated with specially-revered icons of Mary as part of her life narrative prevent historians of Orthodoxy in Russia from unequivocally accepting the tempting view that the image of Mary in Russian Orthodoxy was hopelessly chained to a male, clerical and ascetic culture and theology.108 Mary was a far more complicated figure in Russia’s Orthodox culture. Finding inspiration from the ancients and confirmation in countless stories associated with her miracle-working icons, Mary’s life with all of its imaginable nuances and variations continued to have irresistible appeal for Russia’s women, even in a rapidly modernizing age.

Notes

1 Research for this essay was conducted with the generous support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings and conclusions expressed in this essay do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

. Robert A. Orsi, Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 2.

2 . Pokhvala Presviatoi Deve Bogoroditse. Izbrannyie dushepoleznyie prosheniia, stikhotvoreniia, povesti i primery iz zhizni i tvorenii sviatykh otets, comp. by Igumen Sergii (Novgorod: Tip. M. O. Selivanova, 1905). For descriptions of Mary in local folk customs, see Linda Ivanits, Russian Folk Belief (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1989), pp. 20–24. Joanna Hubbs has pointed out that women’s readings of the Christian story were often expressed in ’spiritual verses’ that often circulated among, and were composed by, women from various social classes, especially the peasantry: Joanna Hubbs, Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 95. George Fedotov briefly analysed the image of Mary in such spiritual verses: G. Fedotov, Stikhi dukhovnye (Paris: YMCA Press, 1935), pp. 47–58.

3 . Vera Shevzov, Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 222–36.

4 . For examples, see Rossiiskii etnograficheskii muzei, f. 7 (Tenishev), d. 1252, l. 4 (diocese of Orel, rural public library); d. 801, l. 14; l. 20 (Novgorod, private peasant holdings); d. 821, l. 72 (Novgorod, local school library); d. 452, l. 35 (Viatka, this topic was the subject of public readings at the local zemstvo school); d. 61, l. 9 (diocese of Vladimir, private peasant home). Also see Chto chitat’ narodu? Kriticheskii ukazatel’ knig dlia narodnogo i detskogo chteniia, sostavlen uchitel’nitsami Khar’kovskoi chastnoi zhenskoi voskresnoi shkoly (St Petersburg: Tip. V. S. Balashova, 1888), pp. iii; 6.

5 . M. E., Bogoslovskii bibliograficheskii listok za 1891. Prilozhenie k zhurnalu Rukovodstvo dlia sel’skikh pastyrei, 12 (1891), 462–65.

6 . Part of a well-known Byzantine hymn in honour of the Mother of God; usually attributed to St Cosmas the Hymnographer (d. 737). The entire hymn ’It Is Truly Meet’ (Dostoino Est’) is a standard daily prayer in the Orthodox tradition.

7 . ’The Protevangelium of James’, ed. by Oscar Cullmann, in New Testament Apocrypha, I, ed. by Wilhelm Schneemelcher and trans. by R. McL.Wilson (Louisville, KY: 1991), pp. 421–39. For historical background to the text, see Nicolae Roddy, ’The Form and Function of the Protevangelium of James’, Coptic Church Review, 14 (1993), 35–45; Mary F. Foskett, A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of Virginity (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press), pp. 141–63; Pieter W. van der Hosrt, ’Sex, Birth, Purity and Asceticism in the Protevangelium Jacobi’, in A Feminist Companion to Mariology, ed. by Amy-Jill Levine with Maria Mayo Robbins (New York: T & T Clark International, 2005), pp. 56–66; Stephen J. Shoemaker, ’Between Scripture and Tradition: The Marian Apocrypha of Early Christianity’, in Reception and Interpretation of the Bible in Late Antiquity: Proceedings of the Montreal Colloquium in Honor of Charles Kannengiesser, 11–13 October, ed. by Charles Kannengiesser, Lorenzo DiTommaso and Lucian Turcescu (Boston: Brill, 2008), pp. 491–510.

8 . Vladimir Sakharov, ’Apokrificheskie i legendarnyie skazaniia o Presviatoi Deve Marii, osobenno rasprostranennyie v drevnei Rusi’, Khristianskoe chtenie, no. 3–4 (1888), 281–331 (307–20); Stephen J. Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

9 . Protierei I. Smirnov, ’Apokrificheskie skazaniia o Bozhiei Materi i deianiiakh apostolov’, Pravoslavnoe obozrenie (April, 1873), 569–614; N. F. Sumtsov, Ocherki istorii iuzhno-russkikh apokrificheskikh skazanii i pesen (Kiev: Tip. A. Divdenko, 1888), pp. 3–4; V. V. Mil’kov, Drevnerusskie apokrify (St Petersburg: Izd. Russkogo Khristianskogo gumanitarnogo instituta, 1999), p. 18. Francis Thomson, however, has noted although aprocryphal gospels such as the Protevangelium of James were among the earliest translated into Slavonic, the earliest existing manuscripts in Russia date only to the fourteenth-century: Francis Thomson, ’The Nature of the Reception of Christian Byzantine Culture in Russia in the 10th-13th centuries’, Slavic Gandensia, 5 (1978), 107–38 (108).

10 . Episkop Porfirii (Uspenskii), Istoriia Afona v dvukh tomakh, 2 vols (1892; reprint, Moscow: DAR, 2007), I, 201.

11 . Episkop Porfirii, Istoriia Afona, I, 201–12.

12 . Mil’kov, Drevnerusskie apokrify, pp. 59–60; Henry J. Cooper, Slavic Scriptures: The Formation of the Church Slavonic Version of the Holy Bible (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003), p. 127.

13 . Stephen Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus and the Early Church according to the Earliest Life of the Virgin’, Harvard Theological Review 98.4 (2005), 441–67; Sakharov, ’Apokrificheskie i legendarnyie skazaniia o Presviatoi Deve Marii’, 295, 314.

14 . Slovar’ knizhnikov i knizhnosti Drevnei Rusi, ed. by D. S. Likhachev, vyp. 1 (Leningrad: Nauka, 1987), pp. 137–38; D. V. Sosnitskaia, ’Zhitie Bogoroditsy v russkoi rukopisnoi traditsii’, Russkaia rech’, 5 (2007), 70–73; T. R. Rudi, ’Pravednye zheny drevnei Rusi (K voprosu o tipologii sviatosti)’, Russkaia literatura, 3 (2001), 84–92.

15 . The complete title of Goliatovskii’s work, initially published in Polish, was Nebo novoe, s novymi zvezdami sotvorennoe, t. e. Preblagoslovennaia Deva Mariia s chudami Svoimi, soch. Ioannikiia Goliatovskogo (L’vov, 1665). The work was translated into Russian in 1677; Sumtsov, Ocherki istorii, p. 57; N. F. Sumtsov, Ioannikii Goliatovskii (Kiev: Tip. G. V. Gorchak-Novitskogo, 1884); I. I. Ogienko, Legendarno-Apokrificheskii element v Nebe Novom’ Ioannikiia Goliatovskago, iuzhno-russkago propovednika XVII-go veka (Kiev: Tip. T. G. Meinandera, 1913).

16 . M. L’Abbé Orsini, Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, taken from the Traditions of the East, the Manners of the Israelites, and the Writings of the Holy Fathers, trans. Rev. Patrick Power, 2nd American edn (New York: Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1851). For a brief overview of the life of Abbot Orsini, see N. Tomasini, L’abbé Orsini, 1801–1875 (Paris: P. Balitout, 1875).

17 . Velichie Presviatyia Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii (Moscow: Universitetskaia tipografiia, 1845), p. 7.

18 . Thomas A. Kselman, Miracles and Prophecies in Nineteenth-Century France (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1983); David Blackbourn, Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993); Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age (New York: Penguin Compass, 1999); Eugene Hynes, Knock: The Virgin’s Apparition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Cork: Cork University Press, 2008).

19 . E. Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle (St Petersburg, Izd. ’Sel’skogo vestnika’, 1913), p. 4.

20 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 50.

21 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), pp. i-ii. For a later edition, see Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy s risunkami, 3rd edn (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1914).

22 . Velichie Presviatyia Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii, p. 3.

23 . Episkop Iustin, Pouchenie v chest’ i slavu Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Afonskii russkii Panteleimonov monastyr, 1900), p. 90; Besedy o presviatoi Bogoroditse (St Petersburg [n.p], 1901), pp. 3, 19. Occasionally, a compiler of a life of Mary would mention the importance of imitating Mary as a guide to salvation. For example, S. D. Stul’tsev, Zhizn’ presviatyia vladychitsy nasheia Bogoroditsy i prisno Devy Marii (Moscow: Manukhin, 1873); Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, comp. by Ioann Kuzmicheev (Moscow: Izd. Morozova, 1894), p. 4.

24 . Alexandre-Joseph de Rouville, Imitation de la très Sainte Vierge: sur le modèle de l’imitation de Jésus-Christ (Paris: A. Delalain, 1819); O podrazhanii Presviatoi Deve Marii, po primeru posledovaniia Iisusu Khristu, trans. by Iakov Utkin (St Petersburg: Tip. A. Baikova, 1820).

25 . Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia khristianom (Moscow: Tip. Pogodina, 1871).

26 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i Prisno – Devy Marii sostavlennaia na osnovanii sviashchennogo pisaniia, sviashchennogo predaniia i pisanii otsov tserkvi (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 18; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy s prilozheniem skazanii o chudotvornykh ikonakh eia (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903).

27 . Zhizn’ preblagoslovennoi vladychitsy nasheia Bogoroditsy Prisnodevy Marii, comp. by Ieromonakh Stefan, 3rd edn (Moscow: Tip. I. D. Sytina, 1898); Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskogo sv. Proroka Ilii skita, 1899); Arkhimandrit Ioann Veriuzhskii, Beseda s russkimi bogomol’tsami o zemnoi zhizni Bozhiei Materi i eia blazhennom uspenii (St Petersburg: Pravoslavnoe Palestinskoe obshchestvo, 1908); Vasilii, episkop Mozhaiskii, Zhizn’ presviatyia i preblagoslovennyia Bogoroditsy i Prisnodevy Marii: Dushespasitel’nyia besedy (Sergiev Posad: Tip. Sv. Tr. Sergievoi Lavry, 1914).

28 . Although it is impossible to identify the compilers of all of the versions of the published Lives in late imperial Russia, in addition to Avdot’ia Glinka and Sof’ia Snessoreva, some of the compilers include: Petr Simonovich Kaznaskii, (d. 1878), a layman, historian and graduate from the Moscow Theological Academy; I. V. Krasnitskii, a layman, devotional writer, and bibliographer (d. 1900); P. Losev, a layman, devotional writer and author of a catechetical textbook; E. N. Poselianin (Pogozhev), a layman, devotional writer from a noble family; executed 1931; Ivan Evgen’evich Rozanov, a deacon; Mikhail Il’ich Sokolov (d. 1885), a priest and devotional writer who published in Rukovodstvo dlia sel’skikh pastyrei and Tserkovnyi vestnik; Arkhimandrit Ioann Veriuzhskii (d. 1907), superior of the Kirillo-Novozerskii monastery: ’Nekrolog’, Vologodskie eparkhial’nye vedomosti, no. 2 (1907), 40–41. It is noteworthy that Avdot’ia Glinka was also a composer of akathist hymns, a genre of devotional hymnody that became extraordinarily popular in nineteenth-century Russia. For akathist hymns to the Mother of God, see Vera Shevzov, ’Between Popular and Official: Akafisty Hymns and Marian Icons in Late Imperial Russia’, in Letters from Heaven: Popular Religion in Russia and Ukraine, ed. by John-Paul Himka and Andriy Zayarnyuk (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), pp. 251–77.

29 . For biographical information on Avdot’ia Pavlovna Glinka, see N. L., O zhizni i konchine Avdot’i Pavlovny Glinki (St Petersburg: Tip. Imp. Akad. Nauk, 1863).

30 . Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy po knigam Chet’i-Mineiam, comp. by Avdot’ia Glinka, 14th edn (Moscow: Tip. Stupina, 1904), pp. 5–7. The Chet’i-Minei is a twelve-volume collection of the lives of saints and readings for feasts for every day of the liturgical year.

31 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 7.

32 . In the preface to his work, Abbot Orsini had indicated that one of the reasons for compiling the life of Mary concerned the need to modernize the appeal of the Christian faith: Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pp. v-ix.

33 . V. Grechulevich, ’Skazaniia o zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy s izlozheniem ucheniia Tserkvi’, Strannik, Otdel III Bibliograficheskii, 3 (1869), 55–59.

34 . For Snessoreva’s autobiographical reflections, see S. I. Snessoreva, ’Avtobiograficheskiia zapiski’, in Sviatitel’ Ignatii Brianchaninov. Polnoe sobranie tvorenii, 5 vols (Moscow: Palomnik, 2003), 5, 239–54; E. M. Aksenenko, ’Avtobiograficheskii ocherk S. I. Snessorevoi ”Na Pamiat’ Drugu” ’, Ezhegodnik Rukopisnogo otdela Pushkinskogo doma na 2001 (St Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2006), pp. 158–68.

35 . For correspondence between Ignatii Brianchaninov and Sof’ia Snessoreva, see ’Pis’ma sviatitelia Ignatiia Brianchaninova k S. I. Snessorevoi, Sviatitel’ Ignatii Brianchaninov. Polnoe sobranie tvorenii, V, 487–554.

36 . Bogoslovskii bibliograficheskii listok, 463.

37 . Derek Krueger, Writing and Holiness: The Practice of Authorship in the Early Christian East (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), p. 4.

38 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, p. 455.

39 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, p. 458.

40 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Tsaritsy Nebesnoi (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1913).

41 . As examples, see P. S. Kazanskii, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Izd. Elagina, 1870); M. I. Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi (St Petersburg: Tip. Tovarishchestva ’Obshchestvennaia pol’za’, 1873); Zemnaia zhizn’ Tsaritsy Nebesnoi (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1913).

42 . Raduisia Blagodatnaia, Gospod’ s Toboiu. Blagochestivyia razmyshleniia o rozhdenii, zemnoi zhizni, i vziatii na nebo Presviatoi Devy Marii, 8th edn (Moscow: Universitetskaia tip., 1859), pp. 14–15 and chapter 4.

43 . Raduisia Blagodatnaia, Gospod’ s Toboiu (Moscow: Universitetskaia tip, 1859); Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy: Blagochestivyia razmyshleniia khristianina (Moscow: Tip. A. Semena, 1863), p. 12; Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi.

44 . For examples where compilers emphasized Mary’s intellectual acumen and enlightened mind, see Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 15; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), p. 9; Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 26. For compilers who mentioned her work ethic, see Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Gubanova, 1886), p. 25; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 94; Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, pp. 50, 61. For Mary’s courage, see Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow, 1863), p. 30; Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 57. For Mary’s political awareness, see Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), pp. 88–89.

45 . S. I. Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: I. L. Tuzov, 1898), p. 20; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Sytin, 1892), pp. 43–44; I. Krasnitskii, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Novocherkassk: Donskaia tipografiia, 1893), p. 7; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 26; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1914), p. 32; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, comp. by Sviashchennik Pokrovskii (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1915), p. 15.

46 . For examples, see Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy p. 45; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i Prisno-Devy Marii (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 14.

47 . As examples, see Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 48; O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy: Narodnyie chteniia (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890); Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), pp. 23, 25; Pokrovskii, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, p. 15.

48 . I. E. Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy, 2nd edn (Moscow: L. F. Snegirev, 1885).

49 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 18; Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy, p. 10; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 37; Veriuzhskii, Beseda s russkimi bogomol’tsami, p. 6.

50 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 236.

51 . The four scenes include: 1) Mark 3:31–35 with parallels in Matthew 12:46–50 and Luke 8:19–21; 2) Mark 6:1–6 with parallels in Matthew 13: 53–58 and Luke 4:16–30; 3) Luke 2:41–52 and 4) John 2:1–2.

52 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 51; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow, Tip. A. Semena, 1863), p. 31; Ieromonakh Stefan, Zhizn’ preblagoslovennoi vladychitsy nashei Bogoroditsy, p. 45.

53 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 57.

54 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow, Tip. A. Semena, 1863), pp. 30–31; Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 47; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 56; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy s prilozheniem skazanii o chudotvornykh ikonakh ee (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), p. 89; Zemnaia zhizn Tsaritsy Nebesnoi (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1913), p. 19.

55 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy i ee chudesa (Moscow: Izd. Gubanova, 1886), p. 25; O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 18; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 94; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), p. 89.

56 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, pp. 50–51, 54.

57 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 56.

58 . As examples, see Stul’tsev, Zhizn’ presviatyia vladychitsy nasheia Bogoroditsy, p. 67; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1876), p. 45. Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1892); Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 100.

59 . Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 58.

60 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 51; Zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1903), p. 93.

61 . Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi, p. 22.

62 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 55.

63 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy: Narodnye chteniia (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 36; Kuzmicheev, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Morozova, 1894), p. 90; Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 60.

64 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. A. Semena, 1863), pp. 40–41; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatyia Bogoroditsy, 16th edn (St Petersburg, Izd. A. A. Kholmushina, 1897), pp. 21–22; Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 56; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 65.

65 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, pp. 56, 61. Also see, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Orlova, 1976), p. 43; Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, p. 40; P. Losev, Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow, 1897), p. 43.

66 . Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago, sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 76.

67 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 60. Other examples where Mary was portrayed as the first witness to the Resurrection, Raduisia Blagodatnaia, Gospod’ s Toboiu, (Moscow: Universitetskaia tip., 1859), p. 85; Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia khristianom (Moscow: Tip. Pogodina, 1871), p. 31; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 107.

68 . Poselianin, Bogomater’ na zemle, p. 70.

69 . O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 35. For other examples see, Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia khristianom (Moscow: Tip. Pogodina, 1871), p. 32; Rozanov, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, p. 46; Krasnitskii, Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy, p. 30. Many of the descriptions of Mary as a missionary are based on a narrative describing Mary’s visit to Mt. Athos and her interaction with its non-Christian inhabitants. In the late nineteenth-century, in a desire to purge Christianity of ’lies to which it is intolerant’, the archeologist and Bishop Porfirii (Uspenskii) maintained that the story was a popular local Athonite myth on which Georgian monks from the Iveron monastery on Mount Athos had capitalised in the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century in order to give added weight to their own community. See Episkop Porfirii (Uspenskii), Istoriia Afona v dvukh tomakh, 2 vols (1892; reprint, Moscow: DAR, 2007), I, 212.

70 . Glinka, Zemnaia zhizn’ Bogoroditsy, p. 149.

71 . Snessoreva, Zemnaia zhizn’, p. 60; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Odessa: E. I. Fesenko, 1896), p. 112.

72 . Glinka, Zhizn’ presviatoi devy Bogoroditsy, p. 146–47; Zemnoe zhitie Bogoroditsy Devy – upovaniia khristianom (Moscow: Tip. Pogodina, 1871), pp. 32–33; O zemnoi zhizni Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (St Petersburg: Tip. Straufa, 1890), p. 35; Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Tip. Sytina, 1892), p. 133. Zemnaia zhizn’ Presviatoi Devy Marii Bogoroditsy (Moscow: Izd. Afonskago sv. Proroka Il’ii skita, 1899), p. 77.

73 . Zemnaia zhizn’ presviatoi Bogoroditsy i ee chudesa (Moscow: E. A. Gubanov, 1886).

74 . As examples, see Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi (St Petersburg: Tip. Tovarishchestva ’Obshchestvennaia pol’za’, 1873), p. 28.

75 . For an excellent and insightful overview of Orthodox clergy’s views on the nature and roles of women in late imperial Russia, see William G. Wagner, ’ ”Orthodox Domesticity”: Creating a Social Role for Women’, in Sacred Stories: Religion and Spirituality in Modern Russia, ed. by Mark D. Steinberg and Heather J. Coleman (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp. 119–45. For a history of the women’s movement in Russia, see Richard Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, Bolshevism, 1860–1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978); Linda Edmondson, The Feminist Movement in Russia: 1900–1917 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984).

76 . As an example, see I. Galakhov, ’Zhenskii vopros, ego prichiny i otsenki s khristianskoi tochki zreniia’, Khristianskoe chtenie (July, 1903), pp. 102–03; Zhenshchina-khristianka (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1905), p. 23; Zhenshchina-khristianka (Kaluga: Tip. Gubernskago pravleniia, 1912).

77 . Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie Khristianskoi zhenshchiny: rech’ vospitannitsam, okonchivshim kurs v 3i zhenskoi gimnazii v 1893 godu (Moscow: Univeritetskaia tipografiia, 1893); A. V. Nikitin, ’Khristianskii vzgliad na znachenie i prava zhenshchiny’, Vera i tserkov’, 1.5 (1899), 718–56; Episkop Vissarion, ’Polozhenie lits zhenskago pola v zhizni khristianskoi, semeinoi i obshchestvennoi’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie (November, 1902), 344–45; Zhenshchina-khristianka (Moscow, 1905).

78 . Preosviashchennyi Nikanor, episkop Ufimskii, ’Ideal zhenshchiny khristianki: Pouchenie v den’ Prechistyia devy Bogoroditsy Kazanskago Eia obraza, oktiabria 22’, Pravoslavnoe obozrenie (November, 1882), 579–93.

79 . A. N., ’Uchenie apostola Pavla o zhenskom pokryvale i zhenskom tserkovnom uchitel’stve’, Chtenie v obshchestve liubitelei dukhovnogo prosveshcheniia (November-December, 1872), 357–85 (360).

80 . Episkop Vissarion, ’Polozhenie lits zhenskago pola’, pp. 346–48.

81 . Nikolai Steletskii, Khristianskoe naznachenie zhenshchiny i zhenskaia emansipatsiia nashego vremeni (Kiev: Kievskoe Sviato-Vladimirskoe bratstvo, 1909), p. 1.

82 . Aleksei Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny. Slovo v den’ rozhdeniia blagochestiveishiia gosudaryni imperatritsy Marii Aleksandrovny’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 3 (1873), pp. 75–85; Dimitrii Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny po ucheniiu Slova Bozhiia (St Petersburg: Izd. A. Katanskago, 1899), pp. 5–6.

83 . Nikolai Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia i vysshee obrazovanie zhenshchin s khristianskoi tochki zreniia’ Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 1 (1902), 145–55 (145).

84 . Makarii, Episkop Tomskii, Obrazovanie, prava i obiazannosti zhenshchiny (St Petersburg: Obshchestvo razprostraneniia religiozno-nravstvennogo prosveshcheniia v dukhe pravoslavnoi tserkvi. 1902), p. 5.

85 . For a thorough overview of this issue, see Wagner, ’Orthodox Domesticity’.

86 . Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny’, 75–85; Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie; Steletskii, Khristianskoe naznachenie zhenshchiny.

87 . Kliucharev, ’O naznachenii zhenshchiny’, p. 78; Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia’, p. 148; Protierei Ioann Sergiev, ’Naznachenie i mesto zhenshchiny v mire i tserkvi’, Vera i tserkov’, 10 (1902), 649–52; Zhenshchina-khristianka (Moscow: Sinodal’naia tipografiia, 1905), p. 10.

88 . Velikoe vospitatel’noe znachenie.

89 . Zhenshchina-Khristianka (Kaluga: Tip. Gubernskago pravleniia, 1912).

90 . Zhenshchina-Khristianka, p. 33.

91 . E. P-a., ’Emansipatsiia zhenshchin’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 2 (1864), 317–38. It was highly unusual for women to publish in Orthodox periodicals at the time.

92 . Dmitrii Derzhavin, ’Doblestnaia zhena po izobrazheniiu Solomona Prit. 31: 10–32’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 2 (1866), 226–43; Episkop Vissarion, ’Polozhenie lits zhenskago pola’, p. 245.

93 . Aleksandr Nadezhdin, ’Zhenshchiny v istorii khristianskoi tserkvi’, Strannik, 12 (1872), 141–86.

94 . Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 7.

95 . Piaskovskii, ’Istinnaia emansipatsiia’, p. 145.

96 . A. F. Khoinatskii, ’O pritiazaniiakh nekotorykh sovremennykh zhenshchin na sviashennosluzhenie v tserkvi Khristianskoi’, Dushepoleznoe chtenie, part 1 (1873), 57–75.

97 . Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 10; Ioann (Sokolov), episkop Smolenskii, Khristianskoe naznachenie zhenshchiny (St Petersburg: Pechatnia A. I. Snegirevoi, 1914) [sermon delivered in 1868].

98 . It is noteworthy that among the earliest writings addressing women and the priesthood among Orthodox churchmen were those penned against the role of women in communities of priestless Old Believers. See ’O zhenskom sviashchennodeistvovanii’, Pravoslavnyi sobesednik (June, 1864), 177–97; (July, 1864), 263–306; (August, 1864), 331–54.

99 . Khoinatskii, ’O pritiazaniiakh nekotorykh sovremennykh zhenshchin’.

100 . Preosviashchennyi Nikanor, episkop Ufimskii, ’Ideal zhenshchiny’, pp. 579–93.

101 . A. N., ’Uchenie apostola Pavla o zhenskom pokryvale’; Sokolov, Naznachenie zhenshchiny, p. 7.

102 . Sokolov, Zhizn’ Bozhiei Materi (St Petersburg, 1873), pp. 22–23.

103 . E. Liuleva, Svobodnaia zhenshchina i khristianstvo (Moscow, 1906), p. 7.

104 . Liuleva, Svobodnaia zhenshchina, pp. 17–22.

105 . Shoemaker, ’The Virgin Mary in the Ministry of Jesus’, 466–67.

106 . For an example of ancient writing on Mary that challenged social and political norms in their own day, see Susan Ashbrook Harvey, ’On Mary’s Voice: Gendered Words in Syriac Marian Tradition’, in The Cultural Turn in Late Ancient Studies: Gender, Asceticism and Historiography, ed. by Dale B. Martin and Patricia Cox Miller (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), pp. 63–86.

107 . For a rich discussion of the role of the imagination in the religious life, see Paul Avis, God and the Creative Imagination: Metaphor, Symbol, Myth in Religion and Theology (New York: Routledge, 1994).

108 . Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, ’Feminist Theology as a Critical Theology of Liberation’, in Churches in Struggle: Liberation Theologies and Social Change in North America, ed. by William K. Tabb (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1986), pp. 46–66 (57, 59).

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