Russian patriarch wants former gulag turned into a spiritual center

Patriarch's grandfather was a prisoner there
The new patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church said that he would like to see a former Soviet gulag on the Solovetsky Islands off the northern coast of Russia transformed into a spiritual center.

Patriarch Kirill I said that his grandfather, a priest, was a prisoner in the island camp, whose cruelty was immortalized in dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago.

Kirill said it was a miracle that his grandfather, Vasily Gundyayev, survived. At an August 22 memorial service at the site, Kirill spoke of the spiritual strength that was demonstrated on the islands during the Soviet era.

“We believe that these sufferings and torments have strengthened the power of the Church as it grows with a divine power rather than with a human one,” the patriarch said at the Golgotha-Crucifixion Hermitage on Anzer Island, where sick gulag prisoners were sent to die.


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