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Published Date:


On January 12, in the fifth episode of the «Cult Biography» podcast, Natalia Turygina, PhD in History, tells Irina Smirnova about the holy relic that has been the patron saint of Vilnius for centuries — the icon of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. Kept in the Old Town chapel, the icon is venerated by Christians of all confessions: Catholics, Orthodox and Uniates. Moreover, adherents of other religions also pay respect to it, making Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn a symbol of unity and strength of all people. The podcast guest discusses the mystery of the icon’s appearance, the special attitude towards it and how the image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn transformed from the symbol of Polishness into the symbol of Lithuanian national identity.
Listen to the episode



In the new podcast launched on December 12, Andrey Prokopiev, Advanced Doctor of History, discusses the saints of Europe’s most influential dynasty — the House of Habsburg, focusing on the cult of the Virgin Mary in the hereditary lands of this dynasty. Listen to the podcast


On December 1–2, 2022, St. Petersburg State University hosted the international online seminar «Two seas — two sanctities? A comparative view of the history of the saints in the Baltic and Mediterranean regions». Historians from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novgorod, Novi Sad (Serbia) and Belgorod (Serbia) discussed the shaping of sainthood ideas in the two regions, the formation of saint cults, their spread in Europe and their role in the development of new states and cultures.
The seminar focused on Western and Central Europe, North-West Russia, Byzantium, and the Balkans — the countries of the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. Historians shared their research results and observations on the cult of saints in the colonizing activities of the German Order in the 13th—16th centuries, the use of saints’ images in clerical services and as a tool in wars and struggle for the faith, and the role of the cult of saints in politics and culture. The lectures covered the period from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Read more

Press brief
Seminar proceedings


On November 13, in the «Cult Biography» podcast, Irina Smirnova and Marianna Shakhnovich, Advanced Doctor of Philosophy, discuss one of the key confrontations in Soviet antireligious policy. Who were the «kulturniki» and «antireligionsists»? What was the essence of their confrontation? Why did museums of religion helped preserve religious values rather than destroy them, as is commonly believed? Who stood behind the respect for the religious heritage during the Soviet period, and what happened to those forgotten heroes? Listen to the podcast