Vihra Baeva, born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 1969. Ph.D. from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), Sofia. Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology of Verbal Traditions at the Institute of Folklore (BAS), Sofia.
Visiting Grant Scholar (1 April – 30 June 2011)
A NEW SAINT IN SOFIA: RELIGION AND TRANSFORMATION IN THE POST-SOCIALIST CONTEXT
My book-length project examines the Christian Orthodox religion and popular faith in post-Socialist Bulgaria. It explores a specific shrine in the city of Sofia, where the cult of the Russian Orthodox Archbishop, Seraphim Sobolev has taken root. I dwell on the saint-specific pilgrimage rituals and practices; oral and written narratives about the holy man and his miracles; and the different communities that have formed around the holy site. At NIAS I developed the structure and theoretical framework of the book and studied comparable saints’ cults from Russia, Italy and France. I also discovered a relevant case in the Netherlands, the Russian church in The Hague, where St. Seraphim of Sarov is venerated. Along with the work on the book, which will hopefully come out in 2012, I produced a paper discussing the much debated issues of pilgrimage, local veneration and tourism in the post-modern world on the example of Seraphim’s shrine.