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The Experience of Confession in Imperial Russia

An online lecture by Dr. Nadieszda Kizenko

For some people, the Russian Orthodox rite of confession is a lived experience. For others, it is something glimpsed mostly through such literary works as Anna Karenina, Brothers Karamazov, and War and Peace.

But neither literary representations nor contemporary practices fully convey what confession was like for the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in the Russian empire. In this lecture, Professor Nadieszda Kizenko will help us reconstruct that experience.


In the vast majority of cases, what happened at confession in imperial Russia remained known only to the penitent and the father-confessor. What do we actually know? How often did people go to confession? When did they go? What was it like? Using objects from the collections of the Russian History Museum, this talk will look at confession both from the point of view of the imperial institutions that tried to bring Orthodox imperial subjects to confession, and also the individual souls who approached the sacrament and how they experienced it—liturgically, personally, legally, communally, individually, orally, aurally.


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Connecting With Zoom

This virtual lecture is presented live via Zoom. Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions.

This program will be recorded.


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