Tatyana V. Bakhmetyeva

Mother of the Church

Sofia Svechina, the Salon, and the Politics of Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Russia and France

Northern Illinois University Press 2016

New Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network March 14, 2018 Diana Dukhanova

In Mother of the Church: Sofia Svechina, the Salon, and the Politics of Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Russia and France (Northern Illinois University Press, 2016),...

In Mother of the Church: Sofia Svechina, the Salon, and the Politics of Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Russia and France (Northern Illinois University Press, 2016), Tatyana V. Bakhmetyeva explores an influential figure in the history of Russian Catholicism. A Russian noblewoman and Catholic convert living in Paris in the early to mid-nineteenth century, Svechina (1782-1857) was the hostess of an illustrious and distinctively religious salon frequented both by the French and by her fellow Russian expatriates. First a salonniere in St. Petersburg, Svechina relocated to Paris after the rise of anti-Catholic and anti-French sentiment in Russia following the French Revolution. Svechina played a pivotal role in Liberal Catholic movement, acting as a mentor, spiritual counselor, and intimate friend to some of its leading figures, her influence extending into the world of political ideas beyond the salon. In this interview, Tatyana Bakhmetyeva discusses the intellectual and spiritual formation and influence of Sophia Svechina in the context of the religious, political, and intellectual development of Russia and France during her lifetime.

Tatyana V. Bakhmetyeva is Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and Associate Academic Director for the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 2006. Her research interests center on religion, gender, and national identity in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Belorussia. Her publications include”Russian Catholicism and the Collapse of the Ideals of the Enlightenment” (2006) and “Russian Catholicism in the First Quarter of 19th Century: A New Look” (2005).


Diana Dukhanova is Visiting Assistant Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University.

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