The Economic and Social Life of Russia: 1533-1689

During the years of 1533- 1689, the country known as Russia changed dramatically in many ways. Some changes occurred in a form that could be described as fluid or even 'see-saw' like as borders were increased and then decreased... sometimes in the same areas and sometimes in an amoeba-like form with some sides pulling into the center and others branching out towards other lands due to war, invasion, etc... The country participated in many conflicts on different fronts with different armies and with different intentions. Large populations and cities were decimated/ destroyed and migration to safer areas continued through this time frame. One ruling dynasty ended with the son of Ivan IV, the 'Time of Troubles' began, and ended with the beginning of the Romanov dynasty. The world and other countries themselves were in a time of turmoil and rulers of many lands did not have the easiest time of it- especially Charles I of England in the 1600's. This paper will discuss a little bit of the social and economic lives of Russian constituents during this time frame as well as the expansion of Moscow. It will also discuss the intentional introduction by Tzar Alexei and his successor Peter I of European ideals to the country as well as the 'importance' he placed on introducing foreigners to the Russian way of life.

During the reign of Ivan IV, the economy suffered severely and it was only around the year 1600 that the economy was recovering from the damage caused by Ivan's wars, oprichniki, and other 'excesses'. The turmoil/civil war and foreign invasions during the 'Time of Troubles' contributed to the economic and social problems. For instance, Tsar Ivan IV' s successors continued their quest to conquer lands to the south, in spite of clear signs that this decision was causing more economic distress. (One source mentioned that when Tzar Fyodor I died, Russia's economic and social crisis was 'severe'.) When Michael Romanov was elected as czar in 1613, the city of Moscow was in such 'dilapidated' a condition that the czar was housed at the Troitsa monastery for several weeks, so that decent accommodations could be provided for him. Tsar Michael raised taxes to pay some of the nation’s debts and also to improve economic development. He also created eleven new departments of state to carry out specific tasks including a department to rebuild Moscow and a department to restore order. He also attempted to stop the southward migration of the population and completed a census or lands and population so that the new taxes could be collected efficiently. When he died, his successor tried to continue Tzar Mikhail's agenda of autocracy, order, and economic improvement.

Czar Alexei Mihailovich also began his reign raising taxes on items such as tobacco and salt which were extremely unpopular. Due to the flight/migration of peasants to safer areas as well as looking for 'freedom' from different forms of oppression, Tsar Alexei modified the laws to stop the flow of people to different areas creating de facto serfdom and making it illegal to sell yourself as a slave- effectively bringing most of the population (80%) of Russia under Muscovite domination and taxation. It is important to note that serfdom was predominately in the southern and western part of Russia where the borders needed to be protected and peasants were needed to serve the gentry who provided military service- in the north where attack was not always imminent, serfdom was less common. These laws helped to create a form of a 'caste' system in the state and it became almost impossible to move up or down the social ladder... or in this case, a better description might be a pyramid structure. He also created a few new governmental departments, most notably the 'Secrets' department which was in charge of the czar's falconry establishment, the crown estates, etc...

Urban life in Russia during this time did not look like the typical urban areas in other countries. Only the city of Moscow was a large city in comparison to other world cities- by 1689, it had a population of about 150,000-200,000 people. (To put these numbers in perspective, that would have made the city of Moscow about one-half the size of London, Paris, or Naples.) Another way to look at how other towns in the country compared to Moscow is offered by the fact that this 'large' city contained close to one-third of all urban residents in the entire country. Trade was strictly regulated by the state to give the government tight fiscal control- most taxes were levied and collected on towns. Moscow in 1591 had expanded and grown outward from the Kremlin and had become defined by the name the 'Wooden City.' As Moscow 'added' on in size due to the influx of population, different areas were built up and walled in with stone walls- you could just walk from one side of town to another without passing though many walls and different parts of Moscow had different names. Urban areas were areas of commerce as well as just plain city necessities-gathering places, etc... An attraction to urban areas- especially to Moscow- was its location and walls that helped to keep it fortified from outside attack.

Rural life revolved very much around agriculture. Rye, wheat, oats, barley, and millet were the basic crops grown and one man named Liashcheenko stated- “The agrarian order and rural economy again serve as a key to understanding of all economic and social relationships within the feudal economy and society of the Moscow state during the fifteenth to seventeenth century. The old peasant households which had in the past tended toward an abundance of resources for side income (such as fishing, forestry, etc) tended to now be living very much hand to mouth and always on the edge of bankruptcy and starvation- famines and plagues did nothing to help this already bad situation become better. Social life revolved around work, religion, and subsistence for most. Only some peasants in the north and in Siberia kept their freedom from serfdom as it was so sparsely populated.

Many choices that the Russian czars made that effected the economy also affected the social structure and life of the citizens as well. Taxes and encouragement from the government to buy vodka (due to high taxes) caused drunkenness to be quite common in Russia and was certainly one accusation or criticism of Russia's culture by foreign writers and ambassadors. A German scholar named Adam Olearius who visited Moscow a few times between 1634-1643 stated- “There is no place in the world where drunkenness is more common than in Muscovy. All, of all conditions, ecclesiastics and lay,men and women, old and young, will drink strong water at any time... Nay, the great ones are not free of this vice, as for example, the Muscovite Ambassador, sent to Charles, King of Sweden, in the year 1608, who, forgetting his quality and the affairs his master had entrusted to him with, took so much strong water the night before he was to have audience, that the next day being found dead in his bead, they were forced to carry him to his grave, instead of conducting him to his audience.” Even the impoverished peasant was known to drink when money was available and one source suggests a common quote- “The church is near but the road is icy; the tavern is far, but I will walk very carefully.” Other quotes from foreign sources describe the cold of the Russian climate as unbearable- “You could cast water into the air and it would freeze before touching the ground” and a quote from an English ambassador “[often travelers were] brought into towns sitting dead and stiff in their sleds.” However, it must be noted that not all descriptions of Russia by foreign travelers were negative. One Englishman wrote of his visit of seeing a Russian marketplace- “Your astonished sight is there arrested by a vast open square, containing the bodies of many thousand animals piled in pyramidical heaps on all sides”... it was visits like these that gave European members the revelation that frozen food could be thawed with little loss of flavor. One English painter wrote of the celebration that the Russian constituents had at the turn of the winter season- “They sing, they laugh, they wrestle, tumbling about like great bears amongst the furrows of the surrounding snow” and one British observer stated that the Russian people possessed a “national propensity to mirth.”

Bringing the knowledge of the 'West' to Russia and also educating foreigners about Russia's way of was of great importance to Tsar Alexei Mihailovich. During his reign, he established an international postal system to improve communications between his nation and the western world. In 1652, Czar Alexei assigner the foreign workers in Moscow a suburb in which they lived and other Russians learned various new or 'western' skills. It must be noted however that the czar had another reason for trying to separate the westerners from other Russian as he wanted to limit contacts between the Russian Orthodox and the 'non-Orthodox.' Tzar Alexei also encouraged entrepreneurs from other countries to come to experimental farms and factories where the foreign craftsman could reach Russian workers skills such as glass blowing and brick-making- he also encourages foreign business such as Dutch ironworks to be built and run in his country. In 1682, Tsar Peter I (the Great) came to power. Peter I encouraged the development of new industry and crafts and modern Russian industry can be traced back to this time. Some of the new developments included metal working, textiles, brick making and china manufacturing. In 1689, Russia became the first European state to sign an equal trade treaty with China. (On an interesting side note, Ukrainians ended up playing an important role in Muscovite culture and government after their 'union' with Russia as the Ukrainian people were the same religion and close ethnically to the Russian people... but were more familiar with the west and became large supporters of the reforms of Peter the Great.)

In conclusion, the economic and social lives of the Russian population were very much intertwined and dependent on each other. As the power of the czar increased, the power of the rest of the population dwindled with most of the population having no legal rights at all. With government encouragement of alcohol consumption to help improve its financial status, much of Russia's social life in many areas revolved around drink- or vodka to be precise. And over time as the economy improved, sills and culture from the 'West' were slowly integrated into Russia as well, taking on their own unique colors in the local cultures. When Peter I continued in power, his reforms and foreign policies would open the door of Russia to Europe and vice versa created more understanding... and more opportunities for trade and economic partnerships.


'The Revised Nun Files' - Questions for my Oral History Interview

Well I am getting ready for my overnight trip for my interview. I am headed to the Canada border so it will be fun and all sorts of things. I am hoping to meet a few new online friends and classmates and even meet my favorite teacher. With the feedback I got from friends and other classmates as well as my esteemed professor, here are the new questions. :)

List of questions shared by both the ‘new’ and the ‘experienced’

1. Tell me a little about yourself. (Where were you born? How many siblings did you have? What did your parents do for a living?)

2. What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
Did you attend a Catholic school when you were growing up and how did that influence you?

3. How were religious holidays (Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?

4. What stood out to you about the church as a child? Did you sing in the choir or do any other church activities?

5. What role did the church play in your life as a child? What role in your community did the church play?

6. Do you remember your confirmation as a child? What can you remember about it?

7. What do you remember your father telling you about religion? Your mother?

8. At what age did you decide you wanted to become a Nun? Did you always have a sense that you would become a nun/sister or did the notion come as a surprise to you?

9. Were your family/friends surprised that you became a nun/sister or did they tell you they knew or could tell this is what you would be? Has anyone else in your family become a nun, a priest or a monk?

10. Did anyone try to dissuade you from becoming a Nun?

11. Who was most supportive of your vocation? Who was the least supportive and why?

12.What was the process like of becoming a nun? What things needed to be accomplished?

13. How did you choose your order and what order are you affiliated with?

14. Have you ever lived in a convent and what was that experience like?

15. What particular spiritual practice is most important to you in your walk with the Lord and why?

16. Can you describe for me what your typical day looks like in your vocation?
Can you describe what a typical year looks like in your vocation? Is there such a thing?

17. What delights/surprises you about being a nun/sister?

18. What has been your most rewarding experience in religious life?

19. Have you ever experienced something that made you re-evaluate your vocation? How did you overcome that experience?

20. Some people think that the vow of poverty is one of the most difficult vows… what do you think about that? Do you have an experience wherein you really felt the weight of this particular vow?

21. How is the ‘church’ today different from what it was like when you were a child? (if this question is pertinent)

22. Is the church asking or getting enough of women’s religious views on Church related issues. Do you think there needs to be a change?

23. What one piece of advice would you give to someone considering a vocation as a nun/sister that you wish someone would have told you when you were first considering the vocation?

24. Have you ever been to the Vatican? What was that experience like?

Questions for the more experienced nun

1. How is being a nun/sister for you today different/the same from being a nun/sister in the past?

2. How has your order had to change in the last 50 years to keep the viability of your mission alive in the Church?

3. How have your views on your vocation changed through your experience?

4. Can you discuss the hierarchy of the church here in Maine? How has it changed over time?

5. The church has gone through numerous changes over the past few decades - for instance, it was not until 1983 that girls were allowed to be altar servers, before it was only altar boys.  Also, at one point, only men were allowed to be Eucharistic Ministers, but now women can play that role.  What do you think of these changes?
Do you agree or disagree… and how have they affected your practice?

6. There is a thought among some church members that nuns and priests should be allowed to marry… what are your thoughts on this touchy issue?

7. There seems to be fewer priests and nuns than there were compared to 20+ years ago? Do you agree with the generalization… and how does this change your job? Does it make it more difficult… and how? Also, are you able to give me figures on how many nuns and priests service Aroostook County/ Maine now… as opposed to when you first started?

I am getting pretty excited about this and the idea of a little travel sounds excellent! So we shall see how things go! :)


The First Romanov Czars: Michael and Alexei (1613-1676)

The accession of Mikhail Romanov to the Russian throne in February 1613 marked the end of the 'Time of Troubles' for the Russia country. A few ideas survived this time stronger and intact which was to affect the Russian country politically for centuries to come. The idea that only a strong monarch/tzar could keep the country from chaos was strong and seemed to many to be the only alternative to ongoing chaos. One idea was that the only stability that had been available was the Orthodox church and that was the only guarantee and unifying factor in Russia without a Tsar. There was also the idea that the person who should be in charge needed to be of the 'people' and understand the hardships that they had faced... and were facing. Last was the realization that the Tsar needed the boyar class and could not have authority without them- they would have to work together or get nowhere but trouble, death and chaos for all. The person also needed to be acceptable to the majority if not all Cossack groups as well as the boyar class. Finding someone on the Rurik hereditary line that hadn't been involved in the intrigue and choosing sides in the long civil war was that much harder. So it comes as almost no surprise that the chosen individual was young, had the appropriate heredity, and had very little political involvement over the last fifteen years. A quote from a source that caused me to laugh- “The choice (for czar) fell upon a boy, whose name might have wrung a sigh from the ghost of Boris Godunov: Michael Romanov.” I think the author was right! This paper will discuss the reigns of Tsar Mikhail I and his son Alexei I of Russia. It will discuss their goals and achievements and help us continue on our enlightening path of learning Russian history.

Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov was born on July 12, 1596 to Feodor Nikitich Romanov and Kseniya Shestova in Moscow, Russia. Very little else is known about his childhood. It is known that both of his parents were forced by Boris Godunov to enter service in the church to keep them out of sight/mind for the 'succession'. Before taking vows and being known as Patriarch Filaret, Feodor Romanov had been a distinguished soldier, a man of diplomacy and had been the popular candidate for the throne when Feodor I passed away and Boris Godunov took over. The young Michael probably grew up in a convent with his mother at Tolvuysiy pogost and then later moved with her to Kostroma. In February 1613, he was the chosen and elected czar.... but the next step was for the new czar to be found. And found he was at his mother's side at the Ipatiev Monastery near Kostroma on March 24th. (On a side note, there is a legend about a man named Ivan Susanin who was tortured to hide the whereabouts of the young Michael Romanov and because of his faithfulness and his silence his ancestors were given one half of Derevischi village by Tsar Mikhail.... or he led a Polish army group sent to capture the czar astray and they were never heard from again. There is some debate about this.) Many sources suggest that Mikhail and his mother were not accepting at first of his new 'elevation'- only after much discussion did Michael accept the position of Czar. He approached Moscow on May 2,1613 and several weeks later he attended his coronation in the Assumption/Dormition Cathedral. He married Maria Vladimirovna Dolgorukova in 1624 and when she died four months after their marriage, Michael married Eudoxia Streshneva. Together, they produced ten children including the next Czar Alexis.

The first priority of the new Tsar in 1614 was to restore order and rid the country of the 'foreign occupators'. One source suggests that Tsar Micheal’s main goal was actually twofold- to rid Russia of the large foreign armies and put to rest the conflicts with Poland and Russians as well as deal with his country's financial problems to help solidify Michael's own position. Due to his age, he ruled closely with close consultation with the Boyar Duma and the Assembly of the Land for the first few years... and well as help by his mother's relatives that took control of governmental affairs until the return of Mikhail's father. Patriarch Filaret returned to Moscow in June of 1619 and took up the reigns of political affairs, accepting the title of Great Sovereign and ruling until his death in 1933. However, before his father's return Mikhail had many accomplishments. He had inherited a bankrupt country and he immediately borrowed money to pay the army and raised taxes. Michael was able to put down an uprising of an pretender (false Dmitri III) and his promoters which helped to cement his rule. After the necessary isolation of Russia during the civil wars of the 'Troubles', Tsar Michael looked to England and to its monarch James I for an alliance that could protect Russia from further problems with Poland- there was precedent for good relations with England as relations between the Queen of England (Elizabeth I) and Russian monarchs Ivan IV and Boris Godunov were mostly amiable. This step, along with the taxes and rebuilding the army ended parts of the Polish occupation of Russia and helped control the Swedish threat. Tsar Mikhail signed the Treaty of Stolbovo in 1617 and the Treaty of Deulino in `1618. The alliance with England was successful in its ambitions and both parties (the Tsar of Russia and the King of England) gained many of the priorities and securities that they wanted in their high stakes game of 'risk'. Throughout the last years of his rule, the czar's concentration was on colonization and fort-building in the south and in Siberia- as well as the reformation of the structure of local governments to increase the authority of the central administration. Tsar Mikhail Romanov ruled until his natural death of illness on July 12, 1645 after naming his 16 year old son Alexei as his designated heir.

Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov was born on March 19, 1629, to Tsar Mikhail and his second wife, Eudoxia Streshneva. Alexis was brought up by various wet nurses until the age of five and then his education was entrusted to two boyars names Boris Morozov and Basil Streshnev. Even though he was handed the throne at the same age as his father, he had been able to be better prepared for the challenge. He was sixteen years of age when his father died on July 13, 1645 and his coronation was held on September 28, 1645. In Russian, his nickname was 'tishaishii' which means 'most quiet one' and he was known to be a very devout and religious man. (The word 'tishaishii' can also mean 'the most meek.) Tsar Alexei relied heavily on his two tutors for advice during the early parts of his reign, but firmly stood on his own during much of his reign. He married Maria Ilynichna Miloslavskaya in January 1648 and she gave birth to thirteen children in their twenty-one years of marriage... and died a few weeks after the last childbirth. It was said that Tsar Alexei was very grief-stricken at her death, however, he did later marry again; a Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina and after their marriage in February 1671, she bore him three children... including Peter, who would later be known as one of the greatest Russian rulers in history.

No one can really honestly suggest that the time frame during the rule of Tsar Alexei was not tumultuous. Events happening all over the globe confirm that statement. But Russia itself was part of and participated in some of the difficulties. In Russia during his reign, Tsar Alexis faced numerous town rebellions including defeating the Cossack group led by Stenka Razin, fought and was fairly successful territory-wise in the Russo-Swedish war of 1656, a thirteen year war with Poland which was quite successful territory-wise, as well as a permanent schism in the Orthodox church. According to the introduction to his own book on falconry, Alexis is quoted as saying that "everything must be done with good order, discipline, and exact arrangement.” One source mentions that this quote helps explain the tzar’s emphasis on centralization, obedience, and conformity. He believed that nothing could be secure or strengthened unless great care, strong consistency and hands on strong authority was used. This was not a whim that he expected others to follow alone- Tsar Alexis required the same behavior in almost all instances from himself. Alexei is also quoted as coining the phrase “a time for work, an hour for play” which is still a popular saying in Russia.

He was considered one of the most educated men of his time and he himself wrote and edited many of the important decrees and documents of his time for Russia. He was the first czar to sign laws on his own authority and to permit realistic portraits of himself as well as to actually receive personal communications as a 'person' and not as a leader. Tsar Alexei also established an international postal system to improve communication with other states in Europe. He was described in the memoirs of Lizek as a “Tsar [that] is gifted with unusual talents, has fine qualities and rare virtues... subjects love him so much and revere him.” A monument to Czar Alexei is scheduled to be completed in the city of Penza in 2013 which is the city's 350th anniversary- this city is significant as it was built on Czar Alexei orders to bolster one of the Russian empire's borders.

Tsar Alexei was a man who seems to have a broad vision and unlike some of his predecessors, didn't seem to enjoy the punishments that he felt 'forced' to order. His actions increased the territory of Russia and also helped cement the autocracy for his successors... giving them more power than he had come to the throne with. When he died, he left a fairly stable country ready to accept some new western ideas and a lasting legacy. His son Peter I would continue and build on his father's ideals and legacy creating a legend for himself and a country that would continue to last until this very day.... even if in a smaller form.


A Body-Altering Experience...

I had a body altering experience today. It's still amazing to me that life can really in a matter of seconds alter and twist in such a way that the path you were on has disappeared.... a little like Alice on a path in wonderland with that cartoon broom that sweeps away the path and you find yourself standing in one spot... unsure of where to go, not sure of what your choices are... and recognizing that the longer you stand there is actually a choice in itself. Indecision truly is a decision.

But instead of a mind altering decision, I found a quick way to alter my body structure. I was standing talking to my husband when my son jumped from the top of a calf hutch onto my back. He thought it was fairly funny – my son that is. But I caught him on my shoulders and neck. I am not sure what sound exited my mouth but it wasn't happy. I think it was the quickest way I could have found to totally alter my spinal column and still be able to laugh about it later. So I am going to spend the rest of the day in bed on an ibuprofen high and think about the fun morning I had with Bug... and not follow through on my other plans today. It only took about four minutes to realize that a massive migraine was coming and I was going to be hurting quick.

It feels like I just had a baby a few years ago,.. and now my baby is nine years old, 60 lbs and about 4 ½ feet tall. I am 5'6” and 120lbs.... so my son at his age is almost bigger than me and the games that used to be fun when he was three are really not as much fun. But the glory of life is in the living and in the life changing events that remind us that life isn't for the weak of heart and spirit. While my day is not ending the way I thought it would, it is a good day. I hope it is for all of us.


The 'Time of Troubles': The Last of the Rurik Rulers, Civil War, and the Beginnings of the Romanov Dynasty

Upon the death of Ivan IV, his son Fedor took the throne. Fedor ruled from the years 1584-1598 although it must be said that Fedor did not truly weld the power behind the throne... even if he was sitting in it. And upon his death, Russia was to have about 15 years of dynastic strife as well as social and national struggles. This period of time is known to historians by the name 'The Time of Troubles'. This paper will attempt to discuss three particular subjects. What was the 'Time of Troubles' and its significance. What were the particular struggles of the time- dynastically, socially, and nationally... and how did these struggles overlap or remain separate from each other? Lastly, what part did the Cossacks play in all of these struggles, what role did they have in Russian history, and what eventually brought the country of Russia into national chaos during this time.

While the 'Times of Troubles' didn't officially begin until the year of 1598, it's path was born in the last years of the reign of Ivan IV. The last years of his reign were filled with the consequences of his grief, paranoia, his temper and mental illness. During that time frame, Russia began to have many difficulties. The Livonian War had depleted the state of many resources, both financial and human. Ivan's oprichnina, while attempting to snuff out treason, succeeded in terrorizing the country and killing thousands of innocent people of all classes. Both the war and the 'terror squad' helped to spread destabilization and impoverishment around the country and the rising demands on the peasant class caused many peasants to flee from the oppressive demands placed against them by migrating south. Ivan, in a fit of temper killed his principle heir to the throne and then, in his own grief, died soon after. This left the throne to the next oldest son Fedor- who has been described by many sources as unfit, weak-witted, etc... Another legacy from Ivan IV to his son was the threat to Russian security by the Crimean Tartars, Poland, and Sweden.

Fedor Ivanovich was born in Moscow on May 31, 1557 to Ivan IV and Anastasia Romanovna. He was often referred to as Fedor 'the Bell-ringer' because of his frequent attendance at church services, his strong faith and his inclination to travel throughout the land and ring the bells in the churches. He was married to Irina (Alexandra) Feodorovna Godunova in 1580 and on May 31, 1584, (after the death of his father) Fedor was crowned Tzar and Autocrat of all Russia at Assumption Cathedral. Ivan IV, knowing that Fedor did have 'problems' such as mental retardation arraigned in his will for Fedor to have two guardians to act as regents for him. These two guardians became the real power behind the throne and one of them was Boris Godunov. Boris Godunov was the brother of Fedor's wife and had found great favor with Fedor's father. Czar Fedor spent much of his waking hours in monotonous prayer far removed from the understanding of the Russian state reality. During his reign, the Church of Muscovy gained a special status of Patriarchate of Moscow- a title that gave the assumption of imperial status to the church and brought the religious rule and political rule of Russia even closer. So, as the power behind the throne, Boris Godunov 'ruled' until the 1598.

In 1598 Fedor died without an obvious heir, ending the Rubik Dynasty. He was buried at the Archangel Cathedral in Kremlin. During his reign, he did not produce an heir (and did not appoint one) and Ivan's last son Dmitry had been murdered/killed- either his throat was slit or he was stabbed in the throat. (It must be noted that some suspicion was placed on Boris Godunov in this death... even though the official investigators appointed by Godunov reported that Dmitri had been playing with a knife when he had suffered an epileptic seizure and then died.) After the death of Feodor, Boris was formally 'elected' to the position of Tzar on February 17, 1598 by a council of about 600 deputies drawn from the roles of upper clergy, the boyar duma, and representatives of the service nobility. Some comments from England's ambassador who was sent to the Court of Fedor show some of the cynicism and trouble of the time. Sir Giles Fletcher is quoted as saying: “The state and form of government is plain tyrannical... You shall seldom see a Ruse a traveler, except he be with some Ambassador... They are kept from traveling, so they may learn nothing nor see the fashions of other countries...It may be doubted whither is greater- the cruelty or the intemperancy that is used in this country.” Boris was to rule/reign as Tzar until his death after a lengthy illness and/or stroke in April 1605.

The easiest way to describe what the Cossacks were is to describe them as groups of lawless frontiersman or 'migrant workers'. The ranks of these groups were filled with peasants, runaway slaves, criminals, Tartars, and sometimes even a nobleman who was embittered towards the Autocrat and/or the establishment. The Cossacks survived mostly by hunting, fishing, farming... and or course piracy/brigandage. The Cossacks were also independent of loyalties to others other than themselves and were a very democratic institution; they elected their own leaders by popular vote- called hetmans or atamans. These groups had started to develop around the time of Ivan IV in the lands that had recently been conquered back from the Tartar-Mongols. (There is some thought/ sources that suggest groups of cossacks existed earlier than this time frame.) These groups gained some power and influence (or at the least were certainly not persecuted) under the reign of Ivan IV and both the czar and the these groups sometimes worked together for their common good... with Ivan using the cossacks sometimes as auxiliaries to his army, sometimes as paid members of the oprichnina, etc... Ivan IV was also quoted in 1549 in a response to a request of the Turkish Sultan to control the cossacks- 'The Cossacks of the Don are not my subjects, and they go to war or live in peace without my knowledge.' It must be stressed however, that while in some instances the Cossacks were quite willing to have an amiable relationship with the government or the czar, in others they were more than happy to defy the laws/czar- they had no loyalty or ties to anyone but to their own group members. The cossacks were known for their horsemanship and they managed to keep most of their autonomy until Russia expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The role that the Cossacks played in the development of the history of Russia was varied. One group of Cossacks that were previously mentioned (the Don Cossacks) allied themselves with the Tsars and together systematically conquered and colonized lands to secure the borders of the Volga and all of Siberia. In one example, the Cossacks who lived in the southern frontier took advantage of a foreign war between Turkey and Persia and seized the fortress of Azov in 1637- when they were unable to defend it over a long period of time, communication was made with the Tzar and the fort was abandoned on the tzar’s instructions. In some areas, the differing groups of cossacks created a buffer from invasion from other countries along the Russian borders. Members of Cossack groups also served as guides for many expeditions that were arraigned by civil or government/military groups such as surveyors, traders, explorers, etc... Cossack groups also were involved in political uprisings in Russia and were military supporters of different pretenders to the Russian throne during the Time of Troubles- in fact, the main force supporting one pretender (Pseudo Dmitri I) was the Cossacks.

In 1598, Boris Godunov was elected czar and the 'Time of Troubles' officially began. For the next eight years, there was a dynastic struggle. During this time frame, the country had widespread discontent, invasions from two different countries and various tzars of dubious validity. Boris Godunov was elected Tsar by the Assembly of the Land, but Boris had troubles from the beginning with the boyar class- many refused to grant him unlimited authority because Godunov had no hereditary claim to the throne. However, none of the boyar class could unite with each other around an alternative candidate. After Godunov was crowned, he immediately set out to make sure he didn't have problems with popular rivals; Romanov relatives were banished or sent to monasteries and other boyars were simply purged. During the first few years of his reign, Boris Godunov was quite popular and he did his best to bring about educational and social reforms, including importing foreign teachers, sending young Russians abroad to be educated and even allowed for the building of some protestant churches. However, his reign and the years after his death were filled with power struggles. Godunov was quite paranoid over his position of power and assumed (quite rightly) that others would try to take it from him. He found that his reign was marked not only by national disasters such as severe famine that killed as much as 1/3 of the population, but also invasions from both Sweden and Poland. Rumors began to circulate that the late prince Dmitri was not actually dead and the final years of Godunov's reign were spent fighting not only the other social problems of plague and famine, but the pretender Pseudo Dmitri. After the death of Boris Godunov in April 1605, the dynastic chaos and civil war began in earnest. Feodor II (the son of Boris Godunov was crowned Tsar... and murdered three weeks later. The next in charge was False Dmitri I was then crowned, but reigned only a year before conspiracies against him by a rurikid prince Vasily Shuisky who then murdered the False Dmitri and seized power. Soon after this power grab, a new conspiracy grew up around another imposter calling himself 'Dmitri' entered the fray... and False Dmitri II was born. At this time a second occupation from Poland-Lithuania began after an invasion. And, another pretender Tsarevich Peter, arrived on the scene and had to be dealt with as well. All of the above mentioned pretenders had large armies-either from foreign forces who were willing to help, Cossacks, disgruntled boyars... and some mixtures of all of the above. In all, about twelve pretenders vied for the Russian throne and brought the chaos of civil war with them during their struggle as well as the forces of foreign powers.

The struggles for independence from foreign occupation and the long civil war brought about national chaos to Russia. No area of Russia was unmolested by occupying forces or civil war, natural disasters such as plague and famine, and the struggles of the nearly dozen different pretenders to the throne were felt across all areas of Russia. When Tsar Vasily was forced to abdicate his throne by Filaret Romanov, Russia was ruled by a council of seven boyars for three years until the year 1613 when the council selected Mikhail Romanov as Tsar. This was possible because the boyar finally were able to work together for compromise, the Cossacks supported the candidate, and Mikhail Romanov was not seen as 'power grabbing' like some of the other candidates were. He ruled from February 1613 to 1645, bringing the country of Russia back to stability- expelling the Poles/Swedes from Moscow and the country, bringing Russia back to economic recovery/stability and the beginning of three centuries of Romanov rule.


Vitamins- Differences, Needs and Supplements

Here are a few ideas and answers on some of the most well known vitamins.....

As consumers, we need to be careful about over consumption of fat soluble vitamins.
Fat soluble vitamins are not as easily excreted in the urine or removed from the body as easily as water soluble vitamins. Almost anything we drink can be broken down into H2O… and many foods have water as a by-product from the digestive process. Fat, or lipids, is a very different story. Most individuals tend to try and limit their fat intake in our diet and so if we get fat soluble vitamins through food consumption, but we do not eat enough fat to ‘process’ or consume them then we could not only have the problems of poor absorption – which can cause symptoms of deficiency- but also problems with toxicity as well. Some can be stored in the body in small amounts (mostly in the liver and other fatty tissues.) These vitamins are able to be stored for longer periods of time increasing the chance of toxicity when these vitamins are consumed in excessive amounts. Water soluble vitamins leave the body more quickly and are very little are stored for future use.

A carotenoid is a pigment and the pigment materials that are found in fruits and vegetables- usually the colors range from yellow to orange to red (they can only be found in plant products and some fungus and bacteria- not in animal products with the exception of egg yolks and butter). I think one of the easiest ways to tell if a fruit or vegetable has plenty of carotenoids is to simply look at its color…. Although some green vegetables are high in carotenoids as well. Some examples of high carotenoid foods are asparagus, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, tomatoes and corn.

Vitamin D functions primarily as a hormone- not simply as a vitamin. As a hormone, vitamin D is used to regulate calcium in the blood and the cells of the body as well as bone metabolism. It helps to regulate the absorption of consumed calcium and phosphorus from the intestines and how much calcium is deposited into the bones. My first answer to the question of who needs vitamin D is everyone! My physician told me that anyone she tests tends to be low and needs to take a supplement (we do live in Maine however, which can be a risk factor due to location.) A few risk factors that help a human being to be low in this vitamin/hormone are: skin color (dark skin can block sun exposure), season (northern climates in winter get less direct sun exposure and fewer hours of it), time of day (less direct sun exposure) and age (the ability to get/process vitamin D through the skin becomes more difficult with age.) If you wear sunscreen over 8 SPF than you are also at risk and individuals who spent little time in the sun are very much at risk as most of the vitamin D that our body uses is absorbed through the skin and not from diet.

Vitamin E has a few benefits that are fairly important. As an antioxidant, vitamin E helps form barriers between target molecules and other compounds wishing to ‘steal’ the electrons of the target molecule. The antioxidant will stand between the two compounds and willingly give up some of its electrons or hydrogens to the compound attempting to commit theft and protect the target molecule. Free radicals is the name for some of these compounds that steal electrons. Free radicals have ‘free reign’ when the body doesn’t have enough resources like vitamin E to protect cells. When a free radical steals electrons from other cells, the cell’s DNA is altered and the cell is unable to work the way that it is intended to do so. The cell could be injured or it could simply die. While exposure to free radicals is an essential part of life, exposure to huge amounts is not and doesn’t tend to be healthy.

Individuals who are more likely to have higher physical activity than the general population need a few higher amounts of some vitamins. One of them is vitamin B-6 as this vitamin is needed to process glycogen and protein for full metabolism… and people who engage in more physical activity are more likely to need more protein for energy. Thiamin is also needed in higher quantities for people with higher physical expediency because it helps to break carbohydrates down into energy and also certain amino acids. Folate is especially important for pregnant woman as their body needs the folate, but not enough folate can cause birth defects such as neural tube deficits (and for just general knowledge to women in this class who do not know… when you get your blood work done for your pregnancy and you are told that it is off and you might have a neural tube problem with your fetus…. Take a deep breath and smile- more than 90% of these results are wrong and having a due date that is one or two days off can give you a false positive… as well as a few other things. Yes make sure you are getting what you need especially if you are trying to get pregnant, but don’t stress for days over your blood test until it is confirmed by ultrasound. There is no reason to suffer that way. : )

There are a few reasons that individuals need to take supplements or multi-vitamin pills... but for the most part, the average person gets everything that they need from their diet. That of course depends on whether they are eating a good diet. In the end, I think that one thing I have learned is that the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ is really true. You can have too much of a good thing… and a virtue can become a vice if focused on too intensely. Vitamins and minerals appear to be the same way. One line that really stuck out to me during my readings was that dietary supplements might be necessary if you "don't eat well or consume less than 1,600 calories a day". Supplements can help with not eating well by adding missing nutrients, but I don’t think that supplements can give us good amounts of some things like fiber nor can supplements usually taste good. I would rather enjoy broccoli with a little bit of Ranch than whole foods in a pill. I think that would be so much more enjoyable. : )

What do you think? How do you eat?


'The Nun Files' - Questions for my Oral History Interview

So, I have finished my questions for my oral history interview and I think I have been lucky enough to have a volunteer. :) I wanted to post my questions here and see if anyone has more questions that they think I should add or they have an interest in. (For full disclosure, I came up with a few of these questions on my own and others I found through research and asking people at school.) The interview will be with a fairly 'new' nun... and a nun who has been in her vocation for a few decades. So here they are... and please give me your thoughts!

List of questions shared by both the ‘new’ and the ‘experienced’

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

2. What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?

3. How were religious holidays (Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?

4. What do you remember your father telling you about religion? Your mother?

5. At what age did you decide you wanted to become a Nun?

6. Did you always have a sense that you would become a nun/sister or did the notion come as a surprise to you?

7. Were your family/friends surprised that you became a nun/sister or did they tell you they knew or could tell this is what you would be?

8. Did anyone try to dissuade you from becoming a Nun?

9. Who was most supportive of your vocation? Who was the least supportive and why?

10. How did you choose your order?

11. What particular spiritual practice is most important to you in your walk with the Lord and why?

12. Can you describe for me what your typical day looks like in your vocation?

13. What delights/surprises you about being a nun/sister?

14. What has been your most rewarding experience in religious life?

15. Have you ever experienced something that made you re-evaluate your vocation? How did you overcome that experience?

16. Some people thing that the vow of poverty is one of the most difficult vows… what do you think about that? Do you have an experience wherein you really felt the weight of this particular vow?

17. How is the ‘church’ today different from what it was like when you were a child? (if this question is pertinent)

18. Is the church asking or getting enough of women’s religious views on Church related issues. And where do you think they could or need to make changes?

19. What one piece of advice would you give to someone considering a vocation as a nun/sister that you wish someone would have told you when you were first considering the vocation?

Questions for the more experienced nun

1. How is being a nun/sister for you today different/the same from being a nun/sister in the past?

2. How has your order had to change in the last 50 years to keep the viability of your mission alive in the Church?

3. How have your views on your vocation changed through your experience?

Feedback please! :)


There is Special Providence in the Fall of a Squirrel...

Today, I caused death. Not intentionally and I certainly am not bragging... but unintentional or not, I killed a squirrel. I did the usual try and slow down...swerve a little... all the things that you do while driving at 25 miles an hour and panicking as you see the squirrel leap lightly into the road in front of you and start to run. But, unfortunately for the squirrel and myself, everything I did was not enough and I hit him. And, while I was going fairly slowly, it appeared to be a quick death.

I feel so uncomfortable with the idea that my actions, unintentional or not can cause hurt, pain, or in this case death. I pulled over to the side of the road and my first thought was “Father, please change this.” My next was “why did I leave the house so early? If I had been a few seconds later.....” That kind of thinking is foolhardy and certainly didn't change the situation at all. I recognize that I may do this to people (hurt, not death) on a fairly frequent basis and that thought is overwhelming and uncomfortably sad. And, as I sat by the side of the road, I think the grief that I have been feeling for weeks just flooded into me and I couldn’t do anything, but climb out of my car and carefully cradle the squirrel in my hands and just sit by the side of the road and cry. I cried for the loss of the squirrel but also my losses and my fears and I just cried. I must have looked a wreck and half crazy... just kneeling by the side of the road, crying and praying and holding this poor dead animal. I eventually wrapped the squirrel in a holey t-shirt and buried it under the snow underneath a beautiful tree and headed off to town to 'fulfill' my responsibilities and commitments.... but throughout the day I could feel the grief sitting so close to the surface of my heart and the tears barely behind my eyelids.

I have to find a way through this grief. I am so far behind in school it isn't funny and I just feel like -nothing-. Just nothing. I do not feel like doing anything and I am just going through some of the motions and pasting a smile on my face and trying not to be angry because that won't help. I frankly do not feel like continuing to endure. I know this sounds funny, but in a way I am so glad that I hit the squirrel because I think I was forced to not only grieve but think about my choices and what I want right now. But I do wish that I could have learned the lesson some other way.


The Life and Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch

A week or so ago, I found something interesting when I was doing the research for another blog post. I discovered an artist named Carl Bloch. :) I realized that I already recognized a lot of his work and hadn't realized that it was all made by the same man... or even who that man was. So I wanted to take a few minutes today and share a little bit about him and his artwork- I am guessing that several of my readers will have the same recognitions on some of the artwork that I did.

Carl Heinrich Bloch was born on May 23, 1834 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was the son of a merchant named Joergen and his wife Ida Bloch. His parents were hopeful for him to join the ranks of sea captains or the Navy. He, however, was consumed with drawing and art and loved the idea of becoming an artist- not a respectable profession according to his parents.

It was in 1849, his parent's gave in and allowed Carl to draw in his spare time in the evenings at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. He attended the W. Marstrand Model School in 1851 as well as the Academy. In 1852, he won an award for one of his drawing there and in 1855, Carl Bloch joined the Academy. In August 1859 he received a travel grant from the Academy which he used to travel to Holland, France and Italy with a fellow artist. Carl Bloch met his wife in Rome. Her name was Alma Trepka and they were married in May 1868 and later had eight children. They appeared to be happy and prosperous together until she died in January 1886. His sorrow at her death weighed much on his life.

While Mr Bloch painted (and did so very well) etching was his preferred medium for showing emotion. To the artist, the art of etching was a sublime tool to show and express these strong and pain-stricken emotions.

Mr Bloch served as a professor at the Royal Academy of Art in 1883 and also served as a vice-director. He was also decorated with “The Cross of an Order of Chivalry” and “The Medal of the Dannebrogmen”. Besides religious work, he did many other genre and portrait painting that are beautiful and enthralling as well. Some of his political works are great favorites in his country. His over twenty paintings for the King's Praying Chamber are as well as this altarpieces for the same place are considered to be among the best of his works. Carl Bloch died of stomach cancer on February 22, 1890. Even one hundred years later, many students who wish to study the life of Jesus and attempt to illustrate it, travel to Denmark to study these paintings.

The commission that he received to paint the 23 paintings for The Praying Chamber changed not only Carl Bloch's personal life but also his artistic legacy... and some have recognized Carl Bloch as perhaps the greatest artist ever to interpret the life and death of Christ. I am listing many of his paintings and a few etchings on the life of Jesus Christ below... along with scripture verses and I have tried to put them in the order they happened in the Savior's life.

Details of Mary and the Angel (Luke 1:30–32, 35... "The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt … bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall … be called the Son of God.”)

Mary's Visit to Elizabeth
(Luke 1:41–42... "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.")

Detail of The Annunciation to the Shepards (Luke 2:10–11... "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.")

The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:7... "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”)

The Nativity Etching

Fleeing to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15... "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.")

The Shedding of Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18... "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.")

The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple
(Luke 2:46–47... "After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”)

Get Thee Hence, Satan
(Matt. 4:10... Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.")

Christ and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:13-14... "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water … shall be in him a well … springing up into everlasting life.”)

The Marriage at Cana (John 2:9, 11... "When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom... This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.")

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–3... "When he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”)

The healing of the Daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:49-56... "While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.")

Go Ye Therefore

Christ Healing the Sick at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:5–6... "A certain man … had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?”)

The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2, 4... "And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.")

Christ Healing the Blind Man
(John 9:1, 6–7... "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.")

Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me (Matt. 19:13–14... "Then were there brought unto him little children, … and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”)

The Resurrection of Lazarus
(John 11:43–44... "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.")

Christ Cleansing the Temple (John 2:15–16... "And said unto them … , Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”)

The Last Supper
(Luke 22:15–16... "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.")

Christ at Gesthemane
(Matthew 26:36-39...“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray over there. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.")

Peter's Denial (Luke 22:61–62... "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.")

The Repentance of Peter

The Crucifixion
(John 19:28, 30... "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.")

The Burial of Christ (John 19:40–42... "Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.")

The Road to Emmaus
(Luke 24:13-16... "And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while the communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”)

The Doubtful Thomas (John 20:27-28... "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.")

Peter's Remorse

Here is a self portrait that is currently on exhibit in Italy of the artist.

The next few paragraphed were published in 1991 in an article for the Ensign magazine. They were written by Jay M. Todd and describe how the LDS church received permission to use the paintings for its work/worship:

Twenty-eight years ago, a selection of paintings on the life of Jesus by nineteenth-century Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch was published for members of the Church (see Improvement Era, Nov. 1962). Since then, scenes from that selection have been used many times in Church manuals and publications. Now, in this issue of the Ensign, they are published together again to tell the matchless story of the Lord.

Eighteen of the twenty paintings reproduced here are on the walls of the oratory in the Frederiksborg Castle church. Today, castle and church are a museum of national history and a Danish treasure. Because of the paintings’ utility for Church publications, representatives of the Church approached Frederiksborg Museum officials last year. We desired to rephotograph the paintings and asked if it would be possible for the scenes to be taken from the walls to receive better photographic lighting. Museum officials accepted the request, concluding also that while they were down, the paintings should be cleaned to again make vivid colors that had been dimmed by a century of accumulating dust while on public display.

Following this cleaning, the museum photographed the paintings; eighteen are reproduced on the following pages. In addition to the Frederiksborg paintings, two other paintings by Bloch are printed here: the scene at the pool of Bethesda, located at Bethesda Dansk Indre Mission, in Copenhagen, and the scene of Thomas kneeling before the resurrected Jesus, located at the church in Uggerlose, near Copenhagen.

I hope that you liked this post and please feel free to comment. What do some of these images mean to you? Which is your favorite? Are any of these images 'old hat' to you? Which ones are new? :)