Amazingly beautiful book takes to the world of Orthodox processions through text and image: Sacred Journeys – Orthodox Processions in Eastern Finland
Sacred Journeys – Orthodox Processions in Eastern Finland, Vaellus pyhiin – ristisaattoja idän ja lännen rajalla (eds. Hanna Hentinen and Elina Vuola) describes through text and image, in English and Finnish, long-distance Orthodox processions in North Karelia, close to Finland’s Russian border. They move from village to village, by foot, bicycle, boat or skis.
The authors – Auli Leskinen, Helena Kupari, Hanna Hentinen and Elina Vuola – describe the processions from different perspectives. The photo essays by Hanna Hentinen take the reader to the memorable world of Orthodox processions.
What are the processions? Why are they done? What do they mean? The authors relate this tradition to a broader context, that of the human yearning to approach spiritual realities also in an embodied, bodily, way.
Themes related to pilgrimage are reviving in the Christian churches. This renewal takes different forms. The old common heritage of silence, retreat, meditation and pilgrimage is gaining ground in different churches. Many, not necessarily particularly religious people, go on pilgrimages such as the well-known routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. There are also less known pilgrimage traditions of which the book describes one.
In the Orthodox Church, procession is an old tradition, which acquires new forms while its core remains the same. They contain elements of hiking in natural surroundings, unlike the festal processions that stay in the vicinity of the church, which are the most common forms of Orthodox procession. In this sense, the long-distance processions may come close to what is usually called a pilgrimage.
About the authors
Photographer Hanna Hentinen MA has been documenting North Karelian processions since 1989. She is also trained in the study of religions: the gaze of a photographer is combined with an understanding of her object as a religious phenomenon.
Professor Elina Vuola ThD has been responsible for the research project Embodied Religion (2013–2017). She has interviewed Finnish Orthodox women on their relationship with the Mother of God. She is working as researchers at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Helsinki.
Helena Kupari PhD wrote her doctoral dissertation on the religiosity of displaced Karelian Orthodox women. Besides contemporary religiosity, she is also interested in the manifestations of regional and ethnic identities in present-day Finland. She is working as researchers at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Helsinki.
Auli Leskinen PhD. Her doctoral dissertation is in literature. She is Orthodox and her roots are in Karelia, including the regions that Finland ceded after the Second World War. She is also a novelist.
ELINA VUOLA : Procession as a Christian bodily practise
HELENA KUPARI : Temple feasts, pilgrimages, and processions as part of Karelian Orthodox culture
HANNA HENTINEN : On a visible and invisible journey
AULI LESKINEN : My life path between East and West
PHOTOESSAYS BY HANNA HENTINEN: Into the outdoors Divine service on the move Blessing of the water and temple feast The everlasting life of the soul
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Hanna Hentinen ja Elina Vuola (eds.): Vaellus pyhiin – ristisaattoja idän ja lännen rajalla. Sacred Journeys – Orthodox Processions in Eastern Finland.
Kirjapaja 2018, 224 pages.
Cover and typography Satu Kontinen. Photos Hanna Hentinen.
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