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"The Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" in the Komi Republic

On October 15 in the I.A. Kuratov Literary Museum in Syktyvkar a seminar-presentation "Faith and Faithfulness: History and Traditions of the Komi Republic through the Common Christian Book and Manuscript Heritage" took place. The meeting was organized by the National Library of the Komi Republic with the participation of the Association " Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" and the Library for Foreign Literature. The event was part of the project "A cycle of regional events in the cultural and educational program of the route " Holy Places of Undivided Christianity", implemented with the help of a grant provided by the NGO "Russian Cultural Foundation" within the framework of the federal project "Creative People" of the national project "Culture".

The moderator of the plenary part of the seminar-presentation, Director of the National Library of the Republic of Komi Alexey Prosuzhikh opened the event and read out a welcome letter on behalf of Maria Balmastova, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Archives of the Republic of Komi, in which she recalled that in March 2021 the Ministry became a member of the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" Association. "There are a number of places in Komi that have an original history. The routes, which will be included in the project, introduce the past of the Komi through the prism of religious, ethnic and book culture of our region", – emphasized Maria Balmastova.


Deputy Chairman of the State Council of the Komi Republic, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of the Komi Republic Valentina Zhideleva pointed out that the seminar-presentation "Faith and Faithfulness: History and Traditions of the Komi Republic through All-Christian Book and Manuscript Heritage" opens the celebration of the 185th anniversary of the leading library institution in the Komi-Zyrian region. "We have worked with many libraries, including international libraries. But cooperation with the Library for Foreign Literature will open new opportunities for readers of our Republic", – said Valentina Zhideleva.


Dr. Miguel Palacio, Doctor of Theology (ThD), Head of the Association "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity", Deputy Director General of the Library for Foreign Literature for Interregional and International Cooperation, told about the cultural and tourist route on common Christian monuments of European countries and noted the great role of cultural and spiritual monuments of the Komi Republic in this initiative. According to his words, "Komi Republic is a unique example in our project – it is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious region, and its treasures are worthy to have a large-scale international coverage".


Archbishop Pitirim of Syktyvkar and Komi Zyryansk gave Miguel Palacio his poetry collection "Light of Life", for which he was awarded the international prize "Golden Pen of Russia", and told about churches and monasteries of Syktyvkar Diocese, included in the routes "Journey under the protection of Nicholas the Wonderworker" and "Books of Faith and Fidelity". He spoke separately on the significance of the theme of the legacy of the undivided Church and common Christian values: "I am glad that we have undivided and undivided common Christian values with both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant world. There are some excellent Christological works by Protestant theologians. One reads and listens about Christ our beloved. There, love covers all our divisions. This is very important. When we begin to criticize one another, the Christological theme is not heard. And in vain..."


Olga Sotnikova, Rector of Syktyvkar State University named after Pitirim Sorokin, in her speech emphasized the importance of not only educational, but also educational activities for the University: "No, as young people say, 'cool' specialist will be in demand by society if it lacks a spiritual and moral component and upbringing." According to Olga Sotnikova, the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project is another excellent resource for the most important task of the educational institution.


The second part of the event was moderated by Elena Serditova, head of the Rare Book Sector of the National Library of the Komi Republic – the Regional Center for Work with Book Monuments of the Komi Republic.

Alexey Prosuzhikh, Director of the National Library of the Komi Republic prepared a report on the participation of the National Library of the Komi Republic in the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project. "A significant part of the Christian cultural and educational heritage is the history and culture of the book. Books as a source of spiritual knowledge appeared on the territory of the Komi Kray simultaneously with the Christianization of the population by St. Stephen of Perm – the enlightener and baptizer of the Komi", noted Alexey Prosuzhikh. St. Stephan of Perm also created the first local alphabet and translated church texts into Komi. The Museum of Book Culture of the Komi Republic was created on the basis of the National Library of the Komi Republic, which presents the history of books in the Komi region from the time of Stephan of Perm up to the present day. Thanks to the Museum and the richest book collection in the Republic of Komi, the National Library has become the first point of the route, as well as helped unite the places preserving Christian spiritual monuments to compose the cultural routes "Journey Under the Protection of Nicholas the Wonderworker" and "Books of Faith and Fidelity" in accordance with the project concept "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity".


Doctor of Philology, editor-in-chief of the journal "Art" Pavel Limerov presented a report on "Saint Stephan of Perm as the First Russian Continuer of the Apostolic Enlightenment Tradition," highlighting the life journey of Stephan of Perm and his activities in converting the Perm and Komi region to Christianity.


Marina Kirichenko, Chief Curator of Museum Objects at the National Museum of the Komi Republic, told about the collection of old printed books in the Museum's collection, which were included in the cultural routes "Journey Under the Protection of Nicholas the Wonderworker" and "Books of Faith and Fidelity.


Tatiana Brovkina, head of the rare books and manuscripts department of the Scientific Library of PSU named after Pitirim Sorokin, lecturer of the Russian Philology Department, in her report "The Russian North as a place of medieval book culture" told about the original handwritten traditions of the Komi Republic, the oldest book centers of the Komi region and about how the Scientific Library of PSU can be useful for the cultural route "Books of Faith and Fidelity".


Journalist Artur Arteev and Nadezhda Belyaeva, head of the unofficial culture department of the National Gallery of the Komi Republic, presented a report on the history of the appearance of the Elizabethan Bible of 1784 in the Krestovozdvizhenskiy Kyltovskiy convent. The book weighs about 8 kilograms and is about 8 centimeters thick.


This edition is a new Russian translation of the Bible, begun under Peter the Great and completed under Elizabeth Petrovna. The book was reprinted several times, and the eighth edition was published in 1784.


Galina Pashnina outlined the initiatives of the Ust-Kulomsk inter-settlement library, which could be used in the project "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity": opening of Orthodox literature centers in the district libraries, annual Orthodox Vladimir readings, exhibitions of rare Orthodox publications, etc.


Evgenia Belotsvetova, Head of the Tourism Department of the Finno-Ugric Ethnopark, presented a report on the Ethnopark's activities. She noted that this year the institution is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and during this time it has preserved and transmitted to people information about the cultural heritage of 24 kindred Finno-Ugric peoples, including the religious component. The Finno-Ugric Ethnopark is also a tour operator, organizes itineraries including Christian monuments, and is ready to participate in the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project and provide information about the region's tourist map.


At the end of the seminar-presentation Alexey Prosuzhikh noted that within the framework of the cultural route project "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" the participants need to combine their efforts and create "a product that could successfully compete for the free time of a resident of the Komi Republic, the Russian Federation or Europe".


Summing up, Miguel Palacio pointed out that the peculiarity of the project lies in the fact that it allows us to present in a new way the role of libraries and books as a semantic phenomenon of the world civilization: "We all remember the words that begin the main book – the Bible: "In the beginning was the Word ...". First of all, it is libraries that preserve and deliver the Word to the people of different generations". The project "Holy Places of undivided Christianity" allows to strengthen cooperation between libraries and museums to preserve and actualize cultural heritage.


On October 16, Miguel Palacio and Elena Solntseva, head of the Center for International and Interregional Projects and Programs at the Library of Foreign Literature, accompanied by Alexey Prosuzhikh and staff from the National Library of the Komi Republic visited several locations included in the mini-tour "Books of Faith and Fidelity" and "Journey Under the Protection of Nicholas the Wonderworker" – the Kostovozdvizhenskii Kyltovskii convent and the Ust Vymskii Michael Archangel monastery.


November 8, 2021

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