Rebirth of the Catholic Church 100 years after the Russian Revolution

Giovanna Parravicini lived through the regime in Russia and works with “Christian Russia.”

It has been 100 years since the Russian Revolution of 1917, a drastic change in regime that sought to uproot God from the hearts of people. However, the faith resisted the persecution suffered by those who dared to practice their religion against official guidelines.

GIOVANNA PARRAVICINI “Christian Russia”

“There was a process of Christian rebirth, but why? Because the heart of man is made for God, as St. Augustine said. This means that many people, after years, decades of persecution, still gave testimony for their faith and were willing to die for their faith. People who, when the regime finally fell, began to rebuild the Church and the Christian community.”

Giovanna Parravicini has lived in Russia since the 90s, but knows the country since the times of the Soviet Union. She remembers the testimony of many young people like her, who were punished only because they wanted to express their faith.

GIOVANNA PARRAVICINI “Christian Russia”

“To meet my peers, these young people of 20 years old, more or less my age, who calmly lived while being condemned to concentration camps or prison… people I met in ’79, for example, that in the 80s suffered five years of camp and five years of confinement and deportation. Some leaving, perhaps, his wife who was expecting their first child, but still sacrificing 10 years of his life. Seeing this I said, ‘Then Christ must exist; it’s not just an idea.'”

Giovanna works with Christian Russia, a foundation created in 1957 in Milan by Fr. Romano Scalfi, a priest who asked to be a missionary in Stalin’s Russia. He secretly succeeded, but when he was discovered, he was banned from entering the country for 20 years.

Christian Russia aims to show the world the beauty of the Eastern spiritual tradition and also the tragedy the persecuted Christians experience.

Because of this, one of the first initiatives of this organization was to translate spiritual and religion books into Russian, since the years of religious persecution had provoked a strong religious illiteracy. The first volumes were printed in Italy and sent to Russia, where Giovanna distributed them.

GIOVANNA PARRAVICINI “Christian Russia”

“Our books truly had great success. Priests came from Siberia with backpacks to take them, because the bishops asked for such large quantities. There was a a real desire for books. The post office employees looked at me wondering why an Italian was receiving packages continuously. I told them that they were religious books. I remember that I opened a package so they would see that it was nothing unusual. There were books of St. Francis’ life; it was a package with three or four copies. I saw the peoples’ eyes full of expectations. I gave a copy to each one of them and I made them enormously happy.”

The Catholic Church in Russia is a tiny community of between 300 and 500,000 faithful, but they are especially alive and are becoming a meeting point for dialogue with other churches.