Orthodox Liturgies in Ukraine and Russia at War

Event time: 
Thursday, September 21, 2023 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Miller Hall (PROS406) See map
406 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Free, but register in advance
Open to: 
Yale Community Only
Event description: 

The Yale community is invited to a lunch talk with ISM fellow, Dr. Nadieszda Kizenko at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music in Miller Hall. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to raymond.vogel@yale.edu by September 18 and include your Yale NetID. Note: Seating capacity will be limited and given on a first-come, first-served basis.

It might seem a truism to say that liturgies are affected by national and political traumas. One’s own side is a victim and a hero; one’s enemy cast as a villain. But liturgies can also show the opposite. Rather than being reminded of their ordeals in gory detail, people might prefer religious rites to evoke better times, or to provide stability and continuity.

The war in Ukraine reflects both these impulses. In her lunchtime talk, the first of this semester’s ISM series, Professor Nadieszda Kizenko will examine how many seemingly new liturgical rites and narratives have their origins in competing Ukrainian liturgical, national, and post-colonial identities. Even before the war, different Ukrainian Orthodox churches and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church interpreted history, memory, sanctity, victimhood, heroism, and sacrifice in different ways. While rites commemorating the Holodomor famine (some of which originated in diaspora communities) provided shared elements of identity, others—choice of liturgical language, whether to commemorate the ‘Heavenly Hundred’ of 2014 as martyrs, wartime litanies—mirror Ukrainians’ diverse articulations of their tradition. The Russian Orthodox Church has devised its own new liturgical narratives, whether required for clerics in public rites or aimed at women’s private devotions. After describing some of these narratives, Prof. Kizenko will consider the larger questions of how liturgies respond to crisis, which new liturgical elements last only during the crisis, and which (if any) become written into the permanent ‘script.’

Nadieszda Kizenko, director of Religious Studies and professor of History at the University at Albany (SUNY), is a scholar of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine and Russia. A graduate of Harvard in History and Literature, she completed her Ph.D. in History at Columbia University. Her books include the prize-winning “A Prodigal Saint: Father John of Kronstadt and the Russian People” (Penn State University Press/Studies of the Harriman Institute, 2000), “Good for the Souls: A History of Confession in Imperial Russia” (Oxford University Press, 2021), and (with Thomas Bremer and Alfons Brüning), “Orthodoxy in Two Manifestations? The Conflict in Ukraine as Expression of a Fault Line in World Orthodoxy” (Peter Lang, 2022).