Old Believers of Samara: unrecognized, but unconquered

Old Believers of Samara: unrecognized, but unconquered

What is the basis of the Samara character? The same qualities that the great Volga shows, flowing past this city. Not because people and rivers are alike. But due to the fact that geography almost always determines history. And history is free to dispose of human destinies, breaking weak characters and tempering the strong to a shine of steel.


For three centuries, the Volga was the most important factor of geography for our city - as a source of life and prosperity for residents, as a transport artery, like all life - fluid, changeable, but eternal. The river that divided the world into two parts: the right bank is serf Russia, the left is the great free steppe.

After the construction of notch lines in the 18th century, life in our area has become much safer. The threat of an attack by the nomads practically disappeared, although, of course, it was still a frontier - the border of the great steppe. Not that it’s a completely free land, but a place where many things were looked at condescendingly, through our fingers. And sometimes they helped where the duty was to punish. So in Samara and its environs, those who could not be able to in other parts of the Russian Empire were drawn. Fugitive peasants, criminals and other "suspicious persons" moved to the left bank of the Volga and settled in the Samara lands.

All children of Christ

But almost stronger than the Cossacks and fugitives, those who could not live peacefully in the center of Russia for "ideological" reasons strove to the Trans-Volga region. First of all, this applies to various forms of Old Belief and spiritual Christianity - to those currents of the Christian faith that differed from autocratic Orthodoxy. Centuries have passed since then, so now we will not feel the intensity of the passions of the spiritual struggle. But take the word for it: in the 18th and 19th centuries, Christians who did not belong to the Orthodox Church were severely persecuted. And not only schismatics and Old Believers. The story of the Samara church, which was originally the merchant Annayev, who was a Catholic by confession, built with his own money as a church, is indicative of the history of the Samara church, but in 1863 an uprising broke out in Catholic Poland, a former part of the empire. Therefore, the opening of a Catholic church in Samara was forbidden for Annayev, and the already built building turned into a Protestant German church.

Erased memory

There were many Raskolniks and Old Believers who, as they believed, preserved the true Christian faith of their ancestors, in Samara. In general, the national, ethnic and religious composition of the Samara population was 120 years ago much more variegated than it is now. Germans, Poles, Tatars, Mordovians, Chuvashs, Jews - at the end of the 19th century they made up almost a third of the total population of the city. And Old Believers in Samara were up to 10% of the total population. And these were especially hardened people. After the split, they were persecuted, almost continuously, for two and a half centuries. Sometimes these persecutions became less brutal, sometimes completely brutal, as under Peter the Great. Just imagine what courage, strength of faith and conviction in one's righteousness must be in order to remain faithful to ancient Orthodoxy - the religion of the ancestors, the very belonging to which entailed deprivation, persecution and death. It was the most severe tempering, including moral. Living in the underground, schismatic Old Believers were for the most part people not just devout believers. Throughout their lives, they strove to prove the truth of their faith, for which they often paid with their lives.

Merchant vale

Since 1762, when Empress Catherine graciously allowed the Old Believers to settle on the banks of the Volga and Irgiz, Samara has been home to many schismatics representing the most diverse areas of ancient Orthodoxy. Many townspeople also remember the name "Molokan gardens" - their small island turned into a public garden on Lenin Avenue. So, the Molokans are only one of the groups of Samara Old Believers. And there were also jumpers, priests and bespopovtsy - dozens of large and small branches from the once mighty tree. They were forbidden to open their churches. The prayer houses, which the Old Believers opened at their own peril and risk, were practically clandestine. External church attributes were prohibited, and such communities did not have property rights. Therefore, believers usually gathered in the homes of their richer fellow believers - this is more spacious. But there were not poor people among the Old Believers. Many Samara merchants, some clearly, some without attracting special attention, were champions of the old faith. Firm in their convictions, they found application of their spiritual principles in business. It is the old belief, in contrast to the spirit of the emerging capitalism, that became for many Samara merchants a kind of competitive advantage in the world of profit and capital.

Slope Church

The main reminder of the Old Belief in Samara is the church on Leo Tolstoy Street. She still remains the subject of conflict. And the very history of the appearance of this temple is very dramatic. The first houses of worship appeared in Samara in the middle of the 19th century, but were quickly closed, and the confiscated property was transferred to the spiritual consistory. After the introduction of concessions for the Old Believers, which fell on the reign of Alexander II, the Pomor Orthodox Church nevertheless opened its own church in Samara. It was located on Moskatenaya (Leo Tolstoy) and was popularly called "Lyubov's prayer house" - after the name of the merchant Fyodor Mikhailovich Lyubimov, who became the main trustee of the church. This small church still stands on Leo Tolstoy Street and even operates.

Another branch of Old Orthodox Christianity, the Belokrinitskaya, was represented in Samara by no less prosperous, strong merchants. In 1905, after the decree of Nicholas II on religious tolerance, when the Old Believers were able to openly declare themselves, the Samara merchant of the first guild Ilya Lvovich Sanin, on behalf of the community, submitted a petition to the city duma - to allow the Old Believers to build their own church. In order not to infringe on anyone's interests, the place was specially chosen. Wasteland and dump on the rise along the Moskitelnaya from the Volga. Needless to say, the city council refused to both the community's petitions and Sanin's personal petitions. Although Ilya Lvovich for this very thought was not at all a stranger.

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