Everyday life of a peasant old-believer (based on the manuscript “Rite of Confession”)

Potekhina E. Everyday life of a peasant old-believer (based on the manuscript “Rite of Confession”) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2017. V.2. №2. P. 77-89.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2017-2-2-77-89


The article attempts to complement the image of the life of villagers who dwelled in Old Believers’ communities in Masuria, Poland which has so far been presented in the ac­ademic literature of the subject. The life of priestless (bezpopovtsy) Old Believers at the turn of the 19th and 20th century was regulated on the basis of church laws. One of such documents was “A Rite of Penance”, which a nastavnyk (a preceptor elected by the community) followed while performing the sacrament of confession. The current analysis concerns a manuscript from the former Saviour and Holy Trinity monastery in Wojnowo, Masuria. The main part of the manuscript was written as a collection of questions which allow the researcher to explicate the system of orders and permissions encompassing all spheres of life of an individual member of Old Believers’ community. The form of the text was conditioned by its character and purpose. The questions were structured with the use of a particle “li” which requires an unambiguous positive or negative answer in every question. The text analysis was performed applying the procedure of profiling. While profiling, the author did not take into consideration dogmatic questions directly re­ferring to the Christian teaching in the priestless Old Believers’ strains.


Old Believers in Poland, book heritage of the monastery in Wojnowo, sacrament of penance, social history of village religious community, profiling of text

About the author

Potekhina Helena, Dr habil., Associate Professor, Head of Department of Slavic Linguistics at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (Poland). ul. Michała Oczapowskiego 2; 10–719 Olsztyn.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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