Tobacco Prohibitions as Ritual Language
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Tobacco Prohibitions as Ritual Language book
One of nineteenth century’s most revered Russian Orthodox fi gures, St. Seraphim of Sarov, died in his cell at night during prayer in January 1833. This beloved man-who could pacify bears and bring hardened men to God-was canonized in 1905.1 His face and icons were nearly ubiquitous in early twentieth-century Russia, often shown in his simple cassock kneeling in the woods of Sarov, his home. But, according to rumors passed around by Old Believer opponents of the Russian Orthodox Church, Seraphim was a fraud. Instead of dying standing at prayer during the middle of the night, it seemed that Seraphim had fallen asleep with a lit pipe of tobacco. When the pipe fell from his mouth, rags in the cell burst into fl ame and killed the old man.