UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Miraculous Icons and Bolshevik Power

20 October 2014, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Event Information


Room 433, UCL SSEES Building, 16 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW

Steve Smith (Oxford)

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In 1932 an activist in the League of Militant Godless declared that the ‘icon is the centre of the counter-revolutionary movement’, a hyperbolic claim to be sure, but one that testifies to the symbolic potency of the icon in Russian religious culture.

The talk will ask why there was an unprecedented discovery of thousands of ‘self-renewing’ icons in the 1920s and will explore the meaning of this for believers. It will look also at the attempts by the Soviet authorities to curb this wave of miracles through a mix of science and coercion and, during the years of  collectivization, a brief resort to iconoclasm.