Accepted Papers:

Certifying the Sanctity: the historicity of martyrs of communism  


Eliza Lefter (University of Copenhagen)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper discusses how the historicity of martyrs of communism is instrumentalised to certify the sanctity in the process of creating religious truthfulness. The religious pilgrimage represents the space in which the past materialises in the fabric of lived tradition.

Paper long abstract:

In the lead up to the Soviet collapse, religious manifestations resurfaced in the public space. Eastern Christian communities seemed to elude from the hardened core of atheist Marxism and religion was vindicated by history. The spirit that spawned from the Romanian democratic revolution attempted to glorify the anti-communism resistance from the early years of the proletarian regime. Prisons which hosted the regime's dissidents were transformed into museums, displaying the hypostasis of political and religious oppression. Prisoners who suffered from communist re-education became "martyrs of communism". Narratives pervaded the social space and graves of martyrs developed as places of Orthodox Christian pilgrimage where mystical experiences contribute to the matrix of faith, determining the believer to acquire a new form of religious truthfulness.

The paper discusses how the religious pilgrimage enacts as a memory of the past, creating frameworks for certifying the sanctity by concomitantly experiencing mystical encounters with the perceived Saints. Unrecognized by the Official Church, the pilgrimage represents the space in which the past materialise in the fabric of lived tradition. In the aftermath of the pilgrimage, the Orthodox Christin becomes a specific type believer, using prioritisation tools as messianic time, the memory of the past and mystical experience for claiming religious truthfulness in the spectrum of possibilities which characterises the Orthodoxy.

Panel P099
Changing face of European pilgrimage [Pilgrimage Studies Network] I