Catholics in Siberia


‘This exhibition comprises about fifty black and white photographs illustrating life in Catholic: settlements in Siberia. Until only a few years ago, these settle-ments were completely ignored. Now they are quickly re-emerging and sprea-ding out from the cultural and economic capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk to in-clude other rural and urban settlements from Barnaul to Irkutsk to Omsk, Tomsk and as far as Vladivostok on the Pacific. The history of Catholics in Siberia, which has undergone a great change since the nomination al the new bishop, Josef Werth, has often been marked by painful episodes of deportation and persecution. Thirteen million square kilometres, with a population of over fifty million people, this is the vast land of Siberia, object of the expansio-nist policies of the Tsars until the end of the 17th century. Siberia was rapidly colonized in the 19th century when the Russian population practically doubled (from 4 to 7.5 million between 1895 and 1910). Fundamental to this process was the deportation to the mines between the 17th and 20th centuries of serfs and convicts, political dissenters, free-thinkers, prisoners of war and Polish citizens, as well as religious believers and members of the clergy after the revolution. In 1923, the Catholic Church in Siberia was split into five deaneries whi-ch altogether included forty-three parish churches, thirty-three chapels; and a congregation of over one hundred thousand people. In 1923, Mgr. Carlo Sfiwowski was appointed head of the new diocese of Vladivostok. After only ten years, in 1933, he died of the many hardships be was forced to bear. Not one priest now remained in eastern Siberia and Vladivostok cathedral was oc-cupied by the Soviet authorities. At present there are four active churches (Novosibirsk, Omsk Tomsk and Prokop’evsk) and five priests to administer the sacraments. Every day, Galina Michajlovna Motovilova, TV director from Novosibirsk, will be present at the exhibition together with her husband, Vitallj Dmitrievic Saucenko, cameraman, to comment on the film documentary (30′) they made on Novosibirsk Catholics for Central Soviet TV For the CHRISTIAN RUSSIA STUDY CENTRE see page 151.’


24 Agosto 1991 - 31 Agosto 1991


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