National Geographic : 1918 Nov
THE REBIRTH OF RELIGION IN RUSSIA The Church Reorganized While Bolshevik Cannon Spread Destruction in the Nation's Holy of Holies BY THOMAS WHITTEMORE T HE Holy Kremlin of Moscow has become a Bolshevik fortress. From the 9th to the i6th of No vember, 1917, for more than seven days under a hurricane of fire, the city was stormed and finally carried by the Bol sheviks in terrible fratricidal war. Since then the sacred citadel has been playing a new and ignominious role in the history of Russia. From the time of the building of the Church of the Beheading of St. John Baptist and of the little Church of our Saviour in the Forest, bespeaking the days when the acropolis was still a wooded hill, a multitude of churches and palaces, witnesses of Russia's glory, have written here a national document in stone. The history of Russia is the history of the monuments of the Kremlin. During the bombardment a Chinese workman, looking on, was heard to say, "The Russian is not good; bad man; he shoots on his God." Outraged and despoiled, the Kremlin is in bonds today, guarded by foreign mercenaries. The forty times forty churches of the white stone city seem to draw a little closer in answer to the trumpet calls of the Kremlin domes. The battered towers and shredded gates, from which red flags are defiantly flung in the face of Russia, still stand bravely to pro tect the sacred site. Deputations from the Sobor, or Rus sian Council, now sitting in Moscow, have abjectly to ask the Bolshevik commit tees' permission to hold services in the churches of the Kremlin. If the Bolshe viks dared, they would long since have declared the churches of the Kremlin to be museums, and so extinguished their light of faith. The representatives of the Church have acted in fearless determination that the churches should continue to function, and have continued their sessions amid the violence and destruction raging on all sides of them (see also pages 392 and 393). Entrance to the once always open Kremlin is now only by permit, through the Troitsa gate. All day long a moving line of people on various missions, show ing their passports at the window of a little wooden kiosk, beg to be allowed to enter. A SCENE O1 SACRILEGE WITHIN THE KREMLIN Once within the walls of the Kremlin, one faces piles of ammunition, barbed wire, and ugly miscellaneous heaps of rubbish. Austrian, German, and Lettish soldiers, some frankly in their enemy uni forms, are lounging about or standing guard. Army motor-lorries and cars carrying dark, sallow, un-Russian-faced government officials tear up through the gates, shrieking a curse, so it seems, as they enter upon all-hated Christian Russia. The farther one walks about and sees the outraged fabric on all sides, the stronger becomes the feeling of grief. With indescribable emotion, one enters the resounding stone inclosure near the Cathedral of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God. Here are still to be traced the stains of enormous pools of blood in which floated-human fragments, tracked about by daring feet.* * Many notes of personal experience and all the photographs of the Kremlin which illus trate this article were graciously given me in Moscow by my friend, Bishop Nestor, the dis tinguished missionary bishop of Kamchatka, who took them himself in the Kremlin by per mission of the Bolshevik government.