Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Aleksandr Churkin (Independent scholar)

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and the Russian Religious Conservatism

The Russian conservatism and Anti-Western sentiment have their roots in the works of the Slavophiles, Danilevsky, Leontiev, Pobedonostsev, etc. These thinkers are well known, but there are figures who also have very strong influence, although their names are not known widely. These are orthodox religious writers, especially the fathers of the Russian Church: St. John of Kronstadt, St. Philaret Drozdov, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and others. The works of Russian secular conservative thinkers are popular in a relatively narrow circle, among intellectuals and political scientists. In turn, the books of the above-mentioned Holy fathers are read by tens of thousands believers, from average man to the Patriarch. That is the reason why now, when the role of the Orthodox Church in the cultural and social life in Russia has increased significantly, it is important to estimate the strength and direction of the influence of their ideas. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867) has a unique place in the history of the Russian religious culture. Among the galaxy of Russian ecclesiastical writers of the nineteenth century, he is probably the most published and read one now. Being a monk St. Ignatius was simultaneously refined aristocrat, he had received secular education in the Main Military Engineering school, he was fluent in several languages, as well as he was informed in the latest trends of european thought. So he was equally embedded in Orthodox patristic tradition and in secular culture of his time. Modern orthodox conservatives appreciate Brianchaninov's uncompromising stand against mysticism and Catholicism. He was a consistent opponent of the just nascent Ecumenical movement. In his opinion the Western cultural influence is the main danger to the purity of the church tradition. His theological authority became a serious factor in the confrontation between liberal and conservative clergy during the last two decades In his writings, St. Ignatius rarely touched on secular subjects. His social and political views were expressed most clearly in the controversy with Stchapov and Herzen about the liberation of the peasants and the historic importance of landlordism. It is very interesting how his conservative monarchist theoretical views of the nobleman were combining with personal and business experience of the abbot of a rich Russian monastery. Being a landowner by birth and at the same time a monk by vocation, he considered impossible to own people as property because of his moral and ethical reasons. So St. Ignatius can be called the forerunner of Christian socialism in Russia. The analysis this controversy helps better understand why left-socialist ideas are so easily combined with a right-conservative tendencies in the modern Russian Orthodoxy.