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Medieval Russia was a land trembling with religious fervor. Mystics, pilgrims, prophets, and holy fools wandered the countryside. Their wardrobe and grooming choices earned them names like Maksim the Naked and John the Hairy. Basil the Blessed walked through Moscow in rags, castigated the rich, exposed deceitful merchants, and issued prophecies, many of which proved correct, or close enough. St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is named for him. Nil Sorsky was renowned for his asceticism and devotion, suggesting that, through self-discipline and prayer, you could directly commune with God, making irrelevant the extravagant rituals of Orthodoxy. Many ascetics were deemed “fools for Christ,” whether or not they behaved foolishly. Some were designated saints.A new novel by the Russian medievalist Eugene Vodolazkin, “Laurus,” recreates this fervent landscape and suggests why the era, its holy men, and the forests and fields of Muscovy retain such a grip on the Russian imagination. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/holy-foolery
well he is brown.....
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