Gerd Ludwig Photography



After being driven underground for nearly 80 years, the Russian Orthodox Church has been restored to its former splendor, again playing the integral role of Russian identity - as it had for almost a thousand years. Millions of Russians rush to be baptized; thousands of ruined churches have been restored; young and old are embracing age-old acts of devotion and faith; priests are administering to the sick, elderly, and poor; the monastic life has returned; troubled youths in prisons and half-way houses are being proselytized - and an icy swim in the priest-blessed waters of rivers and lakes at Epiphany cleanses the soul of sins. Mother Russia has realigned herself with God, and her people are reveling in their reunion with the deeply rooted mysteries and traditons of the past.

In the April issue of National Geographic Magazine Gerd Ludwig explores the "Soul of Russia", the rich traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, its rights of religious services, its internal structure, and its relationship to politics.

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