Vinyukova Nadezda

Ministry at Butyrskaya transit prison: experience of priest Joseph Fudel’ (1892‒1907)

Vinyukova Nadezda (2019) "Ministry at Butyrskaya transit prison: experience of priest Joseph Fudel’ (1892‒1907) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2019, vol. 90, pp. 22-38 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201990.22-38


This article deals with the ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church in prisons with the experience of priest Iosif Iosifovich Fudel’ as an example. He served at Butyrskaya prison in 1892‒1907. The study draws on both archival and published materials, i.e. legislative sources, memoirs of contemporaries, essays and diary of Father Iosif himself. The article sheds light on this period of Father Iosif’s life, whose biography has not been thoroughly studied so far, and shows the role, responsibilities and capabilities of the person in the prison. It also outlines several acute issues of the penitentiary system of that time (degree of punishment, judicial faults, conditions of imprisonment, separation of families, maintenance of children, etc.) The range of the priest’s activities in the prison was truly enormous. Apart from the church service, being a spiritual preceptor, regular visits to all cells, he was responsible for the school, library, infi rmary, as well as dealt with the reunion of families and fi nancial aid to exiles. Having immersed in the milieu of “deprived” ordinary people, Father Iosif, on the one hand, became convinced of the validity of Christian worldview and high standards of the ordinary farmer who was raised in this worldview. On the other hand, he saw the imperfection of the penitentiary system, in many respects inhuman and unable to improve and revive the person. The end of the 15-year long period of his offi ce at Butyrskaya prison fell on the time of the fi rst Russian revolution which signifi cantly changed the situation and types of those imprisoned as well as requirements to the priest. Fudel’s ideas about the pastor’s mission, non-accusatory sermon, and voluntary communication with the fl ock came to be discordant with opinions of the management of the prison. As a result, he was tranferred to the parish of the church of St. Nicholas in Plotniki.


Iosif Fudel, Russian Orthodox Church, pre-revolutionary penitentiary system, prison ministry of Russian Orthodox Church, Butyrskaya prison, priest’s biography


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Information about the author

Vinyukova Nadezda

Student status: Graduate student;
Academic Degree: Doctor* of Pharmaceutical Sciences;
Place of work: Moscow State University;
Post: Editor of Programme "Кто мы?" at TV channel "Россия-Культура";
ORCID: 0000-0002-3030-086X;
Email: nadinvin1@ya.ru.

*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.