Marian revelations in the Russian context: The cosmopolitics of blessed John

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Modern Marian apparitions have often responded to various incarnations of rational Enlightenment political thought, from the 1830 French revolution to Soviet socialism and the international Communist movement. Through her apparitions, the Virgin and her devotees have engaged in "cosmopolitics" by offering an alternative to a purely secular political order. Denying a mechanistic universe, Mary testifies to the existence of a compassionate, personal, miracle-working God. Although primarily a Roman Catholic phenomenon, Marian apparitions are also part of the Orthodox tradition, and the Virgin's appearances in Russia and Ukraine after 1917 served to critique the new Marxist order. In 1984, the Mother of God continued her venture into cosmopolitics when she first spoke to Soviet citizen and spiritual seeker Veniamin Bereslavsky ("Blessed John"). Over the following decades, as the Communist world collapsed, Bereslavsky built an ecclesiastical organization and an international movement on the charismatic authority of these continuing revelations, which gradually have led him away from traditional Christianity to gnostic dualism. With thousands of followers, meeting in congregations from Ulan-Ude in eastern Russia to Glastonbury, England, Bereslavsky, who now lives in Spain, preaches ecumenical esotericism as a cosmopolitical alternative to Western secularism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-42
Number of pages17
JournalNova Religio
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Blessed John bereslavsky
  • Cosmopolitics
  • Mother-of-god center
  • New cathar church
  • Orthodox church of the sovereign mother of god
  • Transfiguring theotokos
  • Veniamin iakovlevich bereslavskii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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