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14 Rebuilding the Chain: Tradition, Continuity, and Processions of the Cross in Post-Soviet Russia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter forms part of a wider exploration of the creation and recreation of pilgrimage traditions in post-Soviet Russia. It takes as a case study 'one of the most ancient and magnificent traditions of Orthodox Vyatka, the Velikoretskii procession of the cross, which Vyatka folk have now been conducting for more than six centuries already, in memory of a vow made to St Nicholas'. The chapter considers the concept as something of a problematic tautology, which nevertheless usefully challenges the reader to scrutinize the ways in which religious practices develop, and the ways in which practitioners perceive this development. It highlights the difference between imagined tradition which may be reconstructed and creatively experienced after a break of several centuries, and the idea of a living tradition which is handed down and adapts, but which remains authentic by virtue of being part of a continuous 'chain of memory'.

Keywords: Orthodox Vyatka; pilgrimage traditions; Post-Soviet Russia; religious practices; St Nicholas; Velikoretskii procession of the cross

10.1163/9789004269552_016
/content/books/b9789004269552_016
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