Russia is well-known as a society that has long dealt with adversity up close and personal thanks to endless invaders, two world wars, greedy tsars, bizarre dictators, and, perhaps the cruelest enemy of all, weather. Yet, much less is known about society’s strong belief in God. After talking to hundreds of “average” Americans I have found the overwhelming perception among ordinary Americans—who, by the way, represent about 90% of our total population—is that Russia is somewhere between borderline religious tolerant and borderline atheistic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are more places of worship per capita than anywhere in the Western world!
One of the most recognized and frequently photographed religious icons in Russia, and perhaps the world, is the ornately sculptured facade of St. Basil’s Cathedral on the edge of Moscow’s Red Square, which was preserved, even revered, during the days of communist domination. But to get a true feeling of what this cultural icon means to all Russians, one must go inside, look around, and imagine the hymns that reverberated off the brick walls of the seemingly endless chambers and winding staircases for hundreds of years.
On my most recent trip I was fortunate enough to capture a choir asking god for his blessings. I was also allowed to take some rare pictures of the magnificently restored interior. Perhaps you might just come to the same conclusion I did: God is alive and well, and living in Russia.