By SHARON K. GILBERT
April 3, 2008
WHAT DO an electrical engineer, a former policeman, and Vladimir Putin have in common? They are all three revered as icons by the wide-eyed believers of Russia’s whirlwind cult machine.
According to Russian tradition, St. Andrew first brought the message of Jesus Christ to Sythian and Greek colonies along the Black Sea (future home of the proto-Russian, medieval state of Kievan Rus’ ) in the first century AD, proclaiming that a great church would one day grow from the very spot where he literally planted a ‘cross’.
Andrew’s earliest Greek teachings soon blended with Byzantine political and spiritual influences, forged together through wars, both internal and external. Although not considered ‘infallable’ like the Catholic Pope, the Russian Orthodox church’s leader, known as The Patriarch, wielded a mighty sword in both spiritual and governmental theaters.
This supreme religious leader played king maker (or tsar maker in this case) while dictating doctrine to an uneducated peasantry eager for salvation through works.
Enter Peter the Great.