Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

A travelling Orthodox church in Russia: religion on rails

article summary —

Just before seven in the morning the train reaches Patschelma, a tiny out of the way spot on a branch line some 800 km east of Moscow (and not the much larger place of the same name near Panza). No ordinary train though, this early morning arrival that shudders to a halt on tracks that are scarcely visible through the snow. For this is a church train, a travelling outpost of Russia's Orthodox Church. Some of the older people of the village who gather on the platforms to greet Father Sergej and his assistant Father Igor can remember Patschelma's old church which was closed down in 1938. For years, there were no Orthodox services in this region, but now some communities benefit from occasional visits by this church of the rails.

Half the houses in Patschelma are abandoned, and as in so many villages of the region, the legacy of perestroika is economic decline and desperation. It is the women who keep life going here.


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 1.