Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Religious Wars

Religious Wars

March 17, 2010  |  Comments Off

Making the Chapter:


In Religious Wars I look at how Christianity was adopted in Ukraine, the cult of atheism and Foucault’s Pendulum, and the KGB infiltration of the church. A review of death, cemeteries and crematoria allows me to tell the fascinating story of the embalming of Lenin, and the glorious city of Lviv – which has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status – gives up some of her secrets as I tour a half dozen of the city’s cathedrals and churches. There really is no better place to experience a microcosm of Ukrainian religious life than the city of Lviv, meaning “City of the Lion,” located only seventy-five kilometres from the European Union border. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, and it owes its visual appearance more to Vienna, Budapest, and Prague than to Moscow or Kyiv.


After World War II, the Dominion Cathedral in Lviv — the most grandiose baroque building in the city — was chosen as the site for a Museum of Atheism and for Foucault’s Pendulum; the only other such museum in the Soviet Union being St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

The Dominican church was completed over the period 1747–1865 and the monastic order adopted the emblem of a dog lying on a book with a burning torch in its jaws, a sculptured version of which can be seen on the magnificent façade. Their purpose in building the church was to convey in stone the values which give life a purpose, including strength, beauty, and harmony. As you turn the corner into the small square housing the church, it does, indeed, take your breath away with its grandeur. The builders have managed to express something in stone that words can not convey.

“Foucault’s Pendulum was suspended just there,” said Victor, a theologian from the Catholic University in Lviv, who was also my guide for the day, as he pointed to a spot in the cupola’s heart, which was in dire need of restoration more than 40 metres above our heads.

Viktor had an eccentricity of appearance; black cassock, unruly hair, and a coloured backpack. He drew an imaginary wire towards the ground with a finger. Beneath the dome, eighteen restored statues of saints, made of linden wood and clad in gold, looked down upon us.