“The Priest” (Russian: Поп) is a 2009 Russian drama directed by Vladimir Khotinenko. It tells a little-known story from the German occupation of Soviet territory during the Second World War. Between 1941 and 1944, a small group of priests were dispatched by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Latvia on a mission to the Pskov region, then occupied by the Wehrmacht, to reopen churches closed by the Soviets. Known as the Pskov Orthodox (sometimes “Spiritual”) Mission, the episode was written into Soviet history as a simple case of the Orthodox Church’s treasonous collaboration with the Nazis.

Photo of the title character of The Priest in his liturgical vestments
In recent years, however, the resurgent Russian Orthodox church has put forth a competing version of the episode, one in which the priests of the Mission are depicted as saintly men of God and true Russian patriots. Despite the appearance of supporting the Nazi occupation, the priests of the Pskov Orthodox Mission administered to the spiritual needs of the Russian Orthodox population in a time of national crisis, while actually supporting Soviet prisoners of war, the anti-Nazi partisan forces, and the larger goal of Russian independence from both the German and Soviet empires. (Source: russianfilm.blogspot.com)

Photo of the title character of The Priest with two villagers by a lake
The film centers on Father Alexander, a humble priest trying to maintain peaceful life for his church amidst the Nazi occupation.

You can watch the first 9 minutes of the film with English subtitles on YouTube (see above).

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.



Chris Vlahonasios

Chris Vlahonasios is a law graduate from Victoria University and Orthodox media writer for TRANSFIGURE Media.


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