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Russia - The Far East


Russia, the world's largest nation in land area, was long inhabited by nomadic tribes, some Turkic, some Slavic.  In the 10th century AD, Viking invaders called Varangians, some led by a warlord named Rurik, from whom Russia is named, conquered much of European Russia and established several independent trading cities.  The most important of these were Kiev and Novgorad.  During the reign of Prince Vladimir in the late 10th and early 11th centuries, Russia was converted to Christianity.  Unfortunately, the Eastern Schism occurred shortly afterward and the Byzantine influenced Russian church lost its unity with the Catholic Church.  In the 13th Century, Mongol and Tartar invaders conquered Russia and established what came to be known as the "Tartar yoke".
The princes of Moscow led the wars of liberation from the Tartars and one of them, Ivan the Great, was first to assume the title of Tsar (Caesar) after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks and the death of the last Byzantine Caesar.
Despite many setbacks and rebellions, subsequent tsars continued expanding the Russian empire.  In November of 1917, Communist revolutionaries seized control of Russia, and under Lenin, Stalin, and their successors pursued a course of expansion and world revolution.  But in 1991, in response to the prayers of millions, the Communist empire collapsed and many outlying areas became independent of Russia. 
The work of the conversion of Russia (See Our Lady of Fatima) has only just begun.  Devastated by 74 years of atheist tyranny, Russia faces the scourges of contraception and abortion, as well as alcoholism, drug addiction, organized crime, and AIDS.

The Society of Our Lady (SOLT) will be coming to Russia at the request of Bishop Kiril Klimovich, bishop of Eastern Siberia.  This vast area covers 4 million square miles and is home to sixteen million people.  In the summer of 2004, Father James Kelleher, SOLT, Sister Katherine Malmros, SOLT, and George Riess met with Bishop Klimovich in the city of Irkutsk, a city of 800,000 which lies 50 miles from Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world.
The Bishop approved SOLT sending a permanent mission team consisting of 2 priests, 2 sisters and 3 or 4 lay people to Eastern Siberia to begin 12 months intensive Russian language study at a major university in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.  After the completion of Russian language studies, the Bishop will assign the SOLT mission team to a parish within 500 miles of Vladivostok.


Our Lady of Fatima


From May 13 to October 13, 1917, Our Blessed Lady appeared 6 times to three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta,  at a place near the village of Fatima in Portugal.  Here, in the European country furthest from Russia, to children who knew little or nothing about that great nation, Our Lady delivered an amazing prophecy linking the fate of Russia and the world.  She warned that war is a punishment for sin and that a new and greater war would come unless people repented and many nations would be destroyed.  She warned that Russia (at that time not yet under Communist control) would spread error throughout the world, enslaving many nations and giving the Holy Father much to suffer. 


But she also gave hope.  Asking the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, she promised that in the end Russia would be converted and the world granted a period of peace.  Her presence at the “Cova de Iria” was confirmed by the miracle of the sun dancing in the sky, witnessed by thousands of people who had come to pray with the visionaries. 


It is in response to this prophecy that the Society of Our Lady, SOLT, will be sending a permanent mission team to the Russian Far East in August 2006.



The icon of Our Lady of Vladimir is considered to be an 11th century Byzantine work and was brought to Russia in the 12th century, a present from the Patriarch of Constantinople.


Because Kiev was exposed to nomadic attacks in the 12th century, the capital was moved to Vladimir and the icon was placed in the Assumption Cathedral there.


In the 13th century the Mongols attacked Russia and burnt Vladimir. The Russian army carried the icon and proclaimed their hymn: 'He who places his trust in you, Mother of God, will never perish'. Although the Cathedral was sacked, the icon was miraculously saved.


By the 14th century Moscow had ousted Vladimir as the capital of Russia. The Mongol domination continued, however, and in 1395 Grand Duke Basil carried the icon from Vladimir to the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. The Mongols were defeated, and from then until the final victory by Ivan the Great in 1480, Our Lady of Vladimir was repeatedly invoked by the Russian defenders.


Revival of the devotion in the West began in 1957 when a teacher discovered the icon in a book of Eastern Christian art. The eyes of the Virgin seemed to reflect the world's sorrows, and it is this feature that brought forth a great idea: Our Lady of Vladimir could be used as a focal point for prayers for Russia, for unity among Christians, and for world peace.


Since 1957 devotion to Our Lady of Vladimir has spread rapidly. The Vladimir story has been translated into many languages and millions are now reciting the Vladimir prayer.


When praying to Our Lady of Vladimir, we are reminded we are praying in common with millions of fellow Christians throughout the world, including millions of Russians.




Mary, Queen of Heaven, we honour Your icon before which the Russian people pray. We beg You to look with favour and motherly care on that great country and to lead it to faith and friendship with us all. We are blessed to have Your Russian image in a place of honour, to pray to You and to work with You for the conversion of Russia and the peace of the world.

(Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston)

SOLT Mission Development
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