sweet_gardenia (sweet_gardenia) wrote in little_details,

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Russian Icons, Saints and orthodox practices

The time period is pre-Revolution and in the first years of the Russian Civil War and I wanted to make sure I have some details straight concerning icon use and saints for story purposes. My research has consisted of some Eastern Orthodox websites, some Russian culture websites and I am also reading " Natasha's Dance " by Orlando Figes (and for anyone else interested in russian history from the 18th century on, I highly recommend this book it is a goldmine of information) I also am just beginning my research on eastern orthodox religious practices in Russia so if I come off as ignorant at any time I do apologize for it in advance. It's just been a little confusing trying to sort it all out :)

-I understood that children named after saints tended to keep an icon of their namesake around for protection purposes, usually in the form of a necklace. Was this a common practice among both upper and lower classes at the time period? Did they wear them constantly or did they only wear them as needed or required (i.e. for specific events in their life, holy days, etc.) And about how big were the icons? Locket-sized or larger or was there no fixed size?

-What was the protocol for wearing the icons? If you were named after a particular saint were you only allowed to wear icons of that saint or could you wear other icons or invoke the help of other saints? I have one of my characters who is named Aleksandr and he has to leave home and go on a journey at one point. I had his mother give him an icon of Saint Alexander for protection purposes but would she invoke any other saints for his protection or would he wear any other saint's icon in addition to that one?

-I know a little about the patronage of saints in Catholic tradition, such as Saint Peter is the patron of fishermen and locksmiths and so forth. Is there also a similar idea of patronage among Russia saints? I have another character, a young man who would wear an icon of a saint to protect himself against devils and evil spirits. He was planning on enlisting as a soldier and he also hunts (there is a tradition of hunting in his family that has gone on for centuries) In the first draft of my story I had him wearing an icon of Saint Michael for protection. Does this work or are there any other saints he'd be more likely to venerate?

-Were there any prayers directed towards particular saints specifically to drive away demons or evil spirits?

-Lastly this is veering away from the subject a little but since it's religious in nature I thought I'd throw it in. I had read in the Imperial Corps of Pages that the boys were required to sing a blessing before eating. I've researched around but unfortunately can't find out what the words to that particular blessing were. If no one knows it, what would be a good substitute blessing to use instead?

thanks so much I appreciate any help I can get!
Tags: 1910-1919, 1920-1929, russia: history, ~religion: christianity (misc), ~religion: christianity: historical

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