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Since the beginning of the 1990s the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has canonized nearly 2,000 new martyrs and confessors, Orthodox believers who were killed during the Soviet repressions (mostly between 1917 and 1941). Just during the Great Jubilee of 2000, which commemorated the birth of Christianity, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized more than 1,000 martyrs. This was the biggest canonization process in the history of the ROC. As a consequence, the profile of Russian saints has radically changed. During the first millennium of Russian Christianity (988–1988) the ROC had only 300 national saints, most of whom were primarily monastics, ascetics, or holy prelates. There were almost no martyrs during that time. Mass canonization has changed these numbers radically. At the moment, the majority of Russian saints are the new martyrs of the twentieth century. Karin Hyldal Christensen’s book is the first comprehensive attempt to explain this new phenomenon within the ROC. The Danish researcher has written more than two hundred pages in an attempt to explain: Who are the new martyrs? Why did the ROC canonize them, and what did that process look like? She focuses on explaining how the new martyrs relate to the Orthodox tradition; however, she also tries to describe the contemporary social meaning of new martyrdom.
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New Martyrs, Russia, Soviet Repression, Orthodox Memory, Russian Orthodox Church
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