Clandestine rituals

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  • Images of clandestine Greek Catholic services in Transylvania

    The four images illustrate the religious life of a Greek Catholic community in 1970s Transylvania as recorded by the community in photographs and how it is described by the Securitate on the basis of their surveillance and investigation of the community. These materials represent a rare instance where it has been possible to relate secret police descriptions to photographic materials that can still be found in the community. The first three images come from the private collection of Mihai and Ana Rus and form part of a group of photos related to their regular attendance at religious services
  • Secret police photographs of Ioannite community Ukraine

    The photographs come from a 1959 KGB criminal case against three members of an Ioannite community in Cherkasy region, Ukraine. The images were designed as a photo album pasted into the secret police file. They portray father Mitrofan, the priest of the community in his house, which had been turned into a clandestine chapel. The first photo collage shows father Mitrofan dressed in Orthodox vestments against a background of icons, performing a religious service and talking to women, seemingly his followers. The second photo collage records the ritual washing of feet, also performed in father Mit
  • Images of Old Calendarist underground church in Bucharest

    The 4 images are taken from a secret police personal file and were used as evidence of an Old Calendarist underground monastery in Bucharest. The community was led by the Old Calendarist bishop Evloghie Oța. According to the communist state legal framework, the Old Calendarist Orthodox Church was an illegal entity. These pictures documented a sweep operation of the secret police that ended in the destruction of the underground church and the arrest of the bishop. We cannot date the pictures precisely because the community kept rebuilding the underground chapel and the secret police destroyed
  • Confiscated photographs from a clandestine religious community Budapest

    These images were confiscated from an underground Pentecostal community in Budapest-Pesterzsébet in 1972. The first image depicts a baptism where pastor József Németh is baptising a young girl. The second image is a group-picture of pastor József Németh and another five congregants in white who had just been baptised. They are standing with presumably other congregants and family members. The third image depicts pastor József Németh preaching to his congregation in their hidden house church. Prior to confiscation, the photos belonged to pastor József Németh. The photos were taken by a mem
  • Letter about a secret Roman Catholic home christening Budapest

    This word-for-word transcript of a typewritten personal letter tells about a secret home christening held in Budapest in December 1954. Amongst other deeply personal matters, the author, the child’s grandmother, briefly reports about the baptism. From this we learn that the child was baptised by a Piarist monk in the presence of the extended family, altogether 22 people. For the occasion the child’s grandfather erected a makeshift altar. As the letter-writer notes, he "made a beautiful altar. He made it so exceptionally nice that everybody was weeping with emotion. My entire home looked like a