The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution churchIn the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Orthodox Church had enjoyed many years of relative calm and a period of massive expansion.

The number of Churches and clergy had grown to phenomenal numbers within the State. With over 55 Thousand Churches, 29 thousand plus chapels, and over 100,000 priests and deacons in addition to the 550 monasteries and 475 convents that housed a grand total of 95 thousand monks and nuns, to say that the Russian Orthodox Church had reached its pinnacle would be no understatement.

This period of expansion and backing from the state was rapidly coming under threat and the year 1917 proved to be a major turning point in the history of not only the Russian Orthodox Church, but also for the entire population of Russian people.

The Church, which had seen its interests protected by the State and the Tsars up to that point, found themselves under attack for the first time in millennia. The Tsar was finally overthrown and the Russian Empire that had been in existence for generations was forced to dissolve.

In October of that year after some political infighting, the Bolsheviks seized power. One of the first edicts from this ruling power was the separation of the church and state. For the first time in its long history, the Russian Orthodox Church found itself without the protection and official backing of the state that it had enjoyed for many years. This was potentially a crushing blow to the power of the Church.

The new Communist Government was trying to make itself heard by issuing a decree that declared freedom from religious propaganda as one of its first official announcements. The fallout of this decree was the persecution of the Church by the State in which many members and leaders of the Church were arrested and executed.

The Church, sensing the change of events, took the side of the White Movement during the subsequent Russian civil war and would ultimately pay the price for backing the wrong and losing side.