This article originally appeared on a new site about the Christian renaissance in Russia: Russian Faith. Their introductory video is at end of this article. You can also take a new Poll at Russian Faith to vote on the next Hero in the Series!
This article is part of the series ‘Russian Christian Military Heroes’, which illustrates the close interrelationship of the church, state, and military in Russian history. In contrast to the uniquely American idea that it is best to keep church and state separate, Russians believe the opposite – that this is, in fact, harmful, and that society is best served by a close cooperation, poetically described as a ‘symphony.’
Weigh anchor, and raise the Saint Andrew’s Cross of the Russian Fleet, it’s time to sail back into history, with this latest Russian Hero’s tale. Amongst his feats, this Hero can boast over 40 battles without tasting defeat; this is Fyodor Ushakov, Admiral of the Russian Fleet.
Admiral Saint Ushakov, was a contemporary of Admiral Lord Nelson, however unlike his British counterpart, Ushakov was never defeated in over 40 battles, oh…and did I mention he once inflicted 2000 casualties without taking more than thirty?
His talent was so great that the famous British Vice-Admiral was to be put under his command during the joint siege at Malta, to the ire of Nelson, who later sabotaged the alliance.
Ushakov was canonized not for his military heroism, that alone does not qualify for canonization—it was instead, how he preserved the spirit of a true Christian in the horrible conditions of battle, always risking and ready to sacrifice his life for those under his command.
While we will discuss his faith, let us first establish that Saints were not magical superhumans without sin, they were normal people like you or I, who obtained Holiness and oneness with God, and to understand them, we must look at the normal aspects of their life.
Saint Fyodor Ushakov was born into a family of petite nobility, in the village of Burnakovo, in the ancient Yaroslavl region, around 150 km north of Moscow. According to Pravoslavie.ru:
“His birthday, February 13th, falls between the commemoration days of two warrior-martyrs—Fyodor Stratilat, and Fyodor Tiron.”
If that is not an omen that Fyodor Ushakov was destined to be a Hero, I don’t know what is. As it was in the story of many Saints, his parents were religious people of profound faith, who set the early Christian values which he would accept as he grew in the Orthodox way. According to Pravoslavie.ru:
“He was baptized in the Church of the Epiphany-on-the-Isle, as if receiving from above a blessing to “serve on water.”
Learning humility form his uncle, a monk, this young nobleman spent much time with the common folk, giving him a strength and understanding of the stark realities of the world, unlike sheltered Western aristocrats, who (literally and legally), purchased their military ranks.
By age 14 he was fully capable of hunting Russian bears, and he entered the Naval College two years later ,graduating as a midshipman in 1765.
He spent his early naval career learning how to survive the cold of the northern seas, and quickly distinguished himself as a worthy sailor. He learned tricks from the older sailors you can not learn in schools, as the old Russian military maxim holds true “The best practices are passed down by the survivors – there is no better practice than surviving the real thing.”
Ushakov learned one of the most important military rules of all – how to be flexible.
He took this flexibility with him the rest of his life, fluid as the waves of the sea and strong like the first of a tsunami. He was the Champion of the Black Sea.
These beautiful pink lakes in Crimea are not far from the site of some of his greatest battles.
When Russia liberated what is now Southern Ukraine from the Ottoman-Turkish rule, he guarded the coasts of what was then “New Russia”.
One of his most lasting and peaceful contributions to Russian and Ukrainian history was when he oversaw the construction of two significant naval bases at Kherson the Old and Kherson the New.
Ancient Kherson was a Greek colony, the northernmost metropolis of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the site of the Baptism of Saint Vladimir of Kiev – the Baptizer of All Russia.
Kherson is derived from the Greek word for Peninsula, as in the Crimean Peninsula.
We know Old Kherson by a different name: the Hero-City of Sevastopol, the greatest city in Crimea. Legendary for its battles, Sevastopol is Russia’s most precious warm water port. Ushakov built the first naval base in Sevastopol, which remains to this day crucial to Russia’s national defence.
The Russian Fleet on Parade at Sevastopol, note that the flag which resembles the British Union jack is actually a Russian ensign.
Since it’s founding by Potemkin on Catherine the Great’s orders in 1778, modern Kherson is Ukraine’s second most famous port after Odessa, and located at the mouth of the legendary river Dnipro (the river where all of Russia was baptized upstream in 988) north of Sevastopol where Crimea meets Ukraine. There Ushakov build the famous docks.
It was in this Black Sea, where Ushakov became a legend, the dread of the Turkish navy who called him “Ushak-Pasha”. Perhaps an insult or a title of infamy and dread, it was one that carried a modicum of respect: “Pasha” is the highest Turkish honorific, similar to Lord in English, Vladica in Slavonic, or Pan in Ukrainian and Polish.
Ushakov distinguished himself as a brave commander during the Russo-Turkish War in 1788. At the Battle of Fidonisi Island, his fleet supported the infantry of the legendary Aleksandr Suvorov, himself the undefeated victor of over 60 battles.
Second-in-Command Ushakov saw the Turks outnumbered the Russians by almost three to one. Realizing this was a fair fight, he did what any Slav would do and charge directly at the Turkish flagship.
In all seriousness, he made a brilliant but risky decision. He knew his troops were better trained and equipped than the Turks, but their numerical advantage could spell the end for him in a battle of attrition, so he decided to leverage his strength while he had it to even the odds swiftly.
Seizing the initiative, he charged the enemy flagship. He awestruck the Turks, winning the day not only for the navy, but paving the way for Suvorov and Potemkin to drive the Turks from Ochakov fortress.
At the decisive Battle of Kurch, now Rear-Admiral Ushakov found himself yet again at a numerical disadvantage (come to think of it, I believe during every battle he fought he was outnumbered), the result? He took less than 30 casualties and lost no ships while the Turks lost five ships, hundreds of men, and had their admiral and captains captured.
At Tendra he continued this trend, but inflicted thousands of casualties on the Turks, and at Cape Kaliakra, he won the Naval War. He was soon promoted to Vice-Admiral and given command of the Black Sea fleet.
It’s remarkable his life is not known in the West, and the Russian Navy is thought of as insignificant. Ushakov had feats even Admiral Nelson could not match, having captured the unconquerable fortress of Corfu, Greece, from Napoleon in three months, whereas Nelson spent a year besieging Malta. The power of Orthodox culture aided him at Corfu, as Orthodox Greeks fought on land with their Russian brothers.
Orthodox Greek natives welcomed Ushakov with a triumph. He ordered a thanksgiving service in gratitude to the Lord for saving his people. On Easter, 1799, he led a cross procession with the relics of St. Spyridon Trimifuntsky, a beloved saint to Greeks and Russians.
Here is how Pravoslavie.ru describes the meaning of his works:
“Here, on the islands, the God-loving admiral manifested yet another of his God-given talents: that of statesman and public figure. He not only ensured “peace and order” for the Greeks, but gave them one of the most democratic for that time constitutions, setting up the “Republic of the Seven Islands,” opening an episcopal faculty on Corfu and inviting an Orthodox bishop, which they had not had since the sixteenth century.
When the time came for Ushakov to leave the Ionic isles, their population turned out with tears in their eyes to see him off. They presented him with medals with the inscription: “These peoples unanimously proclaim him to be their father.” Children were named in his honor, and one and all promised to never let time obliterate his merits and achievements from their memory.”
Ushakov earned his promotion to [full] Admiral for his heroism at Corfu.
He, was later sent to assist the famous Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (whom he technically outranked), though his English colleague reacted to the idea of cooperating with a Russian equal quite negatively, and reacted shamefully.
After Napolean was finally defeated, Nelson offered the French garrison terms of surrender so amicable, it could be mistaken for a truce. They would be ferried back by British ships, permitted to bear arms, and, most ridiculous of all, not even forbidden from “waging war”.
So great was Nelson’s spite at the thought of working with Ushakov, and moreover, he so badly wanted to keep the Russian Admiral from parading in French-controlled Rome and receiving the praise he deserved. Ushakov considered this treason, and in return, paraded his troops through Rome, even though the French had already left.
Ushakov behind the Saint Andrews Flag (a white flag with a blue x), the standard ensign of the Russian Navy. The Russian Navy also uses another flag which resembles the British union jack.
Though his military carrier was the thing of song and legend, he fell out of political favour, and was eventually recalled to Russia. To read more about his military carrier, see here. Finishing his service honourably, he withdrew to Sanaksary Monastery, 500 kilometres east of Moscow, never to fight again.
He struggled in prayer for the rest of his life, praying for every comrade, and even those wanderers he met by chance. He spent his final years thusly: First in prayer, which lead to peace, which lead to mercy in the Kingdom of Heaven.
He died in 1817, at the age of 74, and was buried at the Sanaksary Monastery. In his honor, the local newspapers wrote:
“You knew him as a great naval commander, we knew him for his outstanding charity to others.”
Cathedral of Saint Ushakov in Saransk, Mordovia
He wasn’t a Saint because he won hundreds of battles, or because he was brilliant, he was a Saint because this highborn officer was never afraid to take a bullet to the heart for the common man. He was merciful and never forgot what it means to be a Christian “There is no greater love than laying down your life for another.”
And thus passed into legend the life of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, Patron Saint of the Russian Navy.
Which Russian Hero would you like me to write about next?
These articles are part of the series ‘Russian Christian Military Heroes’, which illustrates the close interrelationship of the church, state, and military in Russian history.
As the author, I would like YOUR feedback. Take this Poll at Russian Faith to vote on which Russian Hero you would like me to write about next, or let me know in the comments down below!
A video introducing Russian Faith:
Star Wars: George Lucas’s futuristic ark reveals its first mysteries | Culture
In the south of Los Angeles, an imposing building has been rising over the city for five years. It stands directly in front of the Natural History Museum, an essential tourist stop in Exposition Park, where visitors can also see the space shuttle Endeavor. Starting in 2025, the great attraction of the area promises to be the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
The name of George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones who became a patron of art together with his wife, the financier Mellody Hobson, influences the viewer’s sense of the building. It is made up of a flattened sphere that is joined by a bridge to a huge oval, overlooking the University of Southern California – which the American Graffiti filmmaker attended. The museum’s grounds occupy almost four and a half hectares, and to many people it looks like a spaceship landed in its midst.
But the museum team is quick to refute the popular impression. “It’s the foliage of a tree,” said Sandra Jackson-Dumont, director and CEO of the institution, a few days ago to a group of journalists who visited the work, including EL PAÍS. Ma Yansong, the architect responsible for the design, was reportedly inspired by the tall trees in Exposition Park. His office, MAD Architects, proposed a huge pavilion that leads into a space designed to unite the community in this lower-middle-class residential area where 70% of residents are Black or Latino. To emphasize the botanical reference, the project foresees planting 200 trees throughout the area.
This week, workers put up the more than 1,500 curved fiberglass panels that will give the building a futuristic look. They have been specially manufactured in northern California by robots; 15% of the façade is occupied by solar panels, which will help reduce the center’s environmental impact. Jackson-Dumont, who worked at the Met in New York for five years before coming to the West Coast, proudly noted that there is no single straight line inside the Lucas Museum.
The idea for the museum was born in 2014. That year, Lucas and Hobson launched a competition to design a center that would be located in Chicago, where Hobson has great power thanks to the investment fund she chairs, Ariel, which has a budget of $16 billion. But a problem with the land forced the couple, who married in 2013, to look for a new location. They found it a few meters from the L.A. Coliseum, which has been the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls.
After five years under construction and a $1 billion investment, the center has begun an aggressive public relations campaign to remind the public that the project did not fizzle out with the pandemic. It has simply been delayed once again. The opening date has been pushed back from 2022 to 2023 and now from 2023 to 2025. This week, the team held press events and conferences in New York with members of the art world to build buzz. In addition to the founders, the board of directors of the institution includes Henry Bienen, president emeritus of Northwestern University; sociologist Arne Duncan, who was Secretary of Education during the Obama Administration; Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA); Andrea Wishom, the president of Skywalker Holdings, Lucas’s real estate company; and filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro.
The board has recently revealed some of the works that have been added to the catalog. Among them is a painting by Robert Colescott, a subversive painter whose work is full of sarcasm and irreverence. The canvas, owned by Lucas and Hobson, shows a black George Washington crossing the Delaware. All those who appear in the painting are African American, a comment by Colescott on the absence of Black people in the historical landmarks of the United States.
The director of the museum believes that there will be no permanent collection once the museum opens its doors. Her idea is that the works will be rotated within the museum. Before their marriage, Lucas and Hobson were already art collectors. She was mainly interested in works by African-American artists such as Norman Lewis and Kara Walker. Lucas’s forte was American art, graphics, comics and illustrations. After their union, they began looking for pieces that interested them both, such as canvases by the 1980s and 90s New York phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the photorealistic works of Chuck Close.
A space dedicated to narrative art can sound confusing, and it is. The museum’s treasures include objects as disparate as pieces made 2,200 years ago in Egypt, mosaics from the Roman Empire, the post-war works of Normal Rockwell, African art, a replica of Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” made 200 years later by John Singer Sargent, photojournalism by Dorothea Lange, a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, a mural by Judith Baca, Ralph McQuarrie’s art designs from the Star Wars movies and Marvel comics by Robert Crumb, star of the American underground cartoon.
“Our intention is to erase the borders between culture and popular art,” says the director. The museum will also have two exhibition halls with capacity for 300 people. One end of the building will include a library open to the public with the entire archive of Lucasfilm, the production company that the filmmaker sold to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion. Lucas and Hobson also bought the Separate Cinema archive two years ago, which includes 37,000 objects linked to the history of film noir ranging from 1904 to 2019.
Portofino mayor offers residents €400 to offset energy bills
And with far-right leader Giorgia Meloni promising to abolish a poverty relief scheme if she wins Sunday’s general elections, he fears things will only get worse.
“There will be a flood of people here,” he warned as he handed out food at the San Francesco kitchen, not far from Salerno’s palm-lined seafront, south of Naples.
The eurozone’s third largest economy is suffering a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
But as usual it is Italy’s south, long plagued by poverty and unemployment which feels it hardest.
“I pay rent, the electricity bill, and then I’ve got nothing left for food,” said 60-year-old Antonio Mela, a former barman who lives with his brother on a 500-euro state pension.
“Everyone is struggling here,” he told AFP, as he took servings of pasta, pork and potatoes, and fruit.
Energy is a major concern in a country reliant on Russian gas, particularly here, in the Campania region.
According to the Italian Poverty Observatory, the region has the greatest number of people struggling to pay electricity and gas bills.
Volunteers prepare food at Mario Conte’s San Francesco soup kitchen on September 20, 2022 in Salerno. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.
– Citizens’ income –
Rocco Papa, a spokesman for the Catholic Caritas charity which helps run the kitchen, said there was a “chronic” lack of work in Salerno, where one in 13 people are at risk of extreme poverty.
“The bringing together of many factors, the pandemic, the war, has seriously aggravated the situation,” he said.
While this is a familiar story across Europe, Italy, with its low-skilled and rapidly ageing population, is unique.
It was the only EU country where inflation-adjusted wages fell between 1990 and 2020, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
It is also one of just six EU countries without a national minimum wage, having instead, since 2019, the so-called “citizens’ income”.
Nearly 2.5 million people claim this benefit for the jobless, which works out on average at 550 euros a month, costing the state 8.3 billion euros this year.
The majority – 1.7 million people – live on Italy’s islands or in the south, a region with a large shadow economy and where 10 percent of households live in absolute poverty.
But the benefit has been targeted by fraudsters, and some employers say it makes it impossible for them to find staff. They accuse young people of preferring to pocket easy money for sitting at home.
These payments have become one of the electoral campaign’s most divisive issues, to the point that Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, which led the last opinion polls, has vowed to ditch the scheme outright.
– War on poverty –
“The citizens’ income helped hugely,” 70-year-old Conte said. For a while, many guests stopped coming.
Rising prices have brought new faces to his door, however: from divorced dads to struggling carers, whose badly paid, off-the-books work is no longer enough.
The number of people using soup kitchens in Salerno has doubled over the past few months, while a Caritas-run canteen in Castellammare outside Naples has seen a three-fold increase.
Conte feeds an extra 10 families with young children each morning.
This benefit was the brainchild of the populist Five Star Movement, which swept to power four years ago after winning big in the south.
Now trailing the right in the polls, Five Star has vowed to make the income “more efficient”, to bring in a minimum wage and to tackle the gender pay-gap.
The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) also wants to keep a reformed version of the benefit. It has pledged similar other anti-poverty measures as well as with 500,000 new council houses and free school meals.
– Favouring jobs –
But for Meloni, the citizens’ income is not the solution.
Poverty, she told a rally in Palermo, Sicily this week, “is fought by favouring growth and jobs”.
She proposes instead a benefit for those most at risk: disabled people, the over 60s, and struggling families with small children.
Her right-wing coalition, which brings together the anti-immigrant League and right-wing Forza Italia, has also promised tax cuts to boost growth.
The last available polls suggest Five Star and the Democratic Party’s support for the citizens’ income may once again be winning votes in the south – although not everyone here backs it.
“Young people have to work,” said Mela, as he collected his food from the San Francesco kitchen. “It should be for families, not 30-year-olds.
“And they have to check who’s cheating and who’s not.”
Music: Coldplay: Why such an irritating band can fill more venues than any other on the planet | Culture
Mick Jagger doesn’t hate Coldplay. A few weeks ago, the Rolling Stones singer published a video on his Instagram account showing him in the upper stands of London’s Wembley Stadium, waving his arms to the sound of the Coldplay anthem Fix You. Like the other 80,000 members of the audience, Jagger wore on his wrist a xyloband, the light bracelet that the British quartet has invented for their concerts. The image was startling. “Jagger listening to Fix You at Wembley and keeping the tears at bay,” someone said on Twitter ironically, referring to the tear-jerking effect of listening to the piece. “Mick Jagger doesn’t care if you know he loves Coldplay,” the music medium Loudwire titled a piece of information about the video, noting that it’s a bit embarrassing to declare passion for the music of the British quartet.
Put the words “hate + Coldplay” in Google or YouTube search engines and you will find dozens of articles on the subject. Music critics and aficionados can’t stand them. A few years ago, The New Yorker published an article titled Why I Don’t Like Coldplay and The New York Times critic Jon Pareles, left this phrase for history: “The most insufferable band of the decade.”
But Coldplay is the biggest pop band of the moment. No one can come close to their concert numbers. After a hugely successful UK tour, the band will embark on a world tour in 2023. The 200,000 tickets for the band’s four concert dates in Barcelona sold out in a matter of hours, and in Argentina, Coldplay is expected to perform to over half a million people during the 10 days they will be at River Plate stadium. We are talking about tickets that cost upwards of €105. And yet, Coldplay’s music is hated just as much as it is loved. What have the British quartet done wrong?
Alexis Petridis, music critic for the British newspaper The Guardian and one of the most influential pop music specialists in Europe, ends his furious analysis of the band’s latest album, Music of the Spheres (2021), with this criticism: “There must be more worthy ways to stay on top.” His theory is that the quartet is obsessed with success and after commercial slips in the past, have decided to play it safe. How? By working the numbers. They selected artists with the most social media followers and platform listeners and went out of their way to have them on the record. Hence, the presence of Selena Gomez and Korean pop stars BTS.
It’s an interesting theory, one that echoes similar criticism from Alfonso Cardenal, the host of the Sofá Sonoro music program on Spain’s Cadena SER radio network. “Coldplay is a band that was aiming for an independent side, so to speak, but the unexpected success of their first album [Parachutes, 2000] turned them into stars, and they decided to stay there by performing commercial pop. Radiohead had the chance to do the same after the huge success of Creep, but preferred experimentation.”
It is worth highlighting what Coldplay critics find annoying about the band’s music: the excess of positivity, songs composed with the aim of being played in stadiums, saccharine melodies, the forced feelgood vibes and the lack of imagination – and this doesn’t just apply to their early songs. And hence the jokes: Coldplay is perfect music for a wedding, indie music for people who don’t like indie… Lanre Bakare is The Guardian’s arts and culture correspondent. When asked by EL PAÍS about why some people have a problem with Coldplay, he says it’s because the band is seen as too commercial. “Those looking for challenging music are put off by Coldplay’s level of success. It is for the same reason that many hate U2, which I think is a group with certain similarities to Coldplay. Also, Coldplay’s tendency to fall into sentimentality is off-putting to some. But the truth is that the mass public wants music that can soundtrack the ups and downs of their lives, and their songs are perfect in that regard,” he says.
Gustavo Iglesias, from Spain’s Radio 3, also defends the band: “Given Coldplay’s massive success, it’s easy to attack them and say that they have sold out or lost their dignity. But if you look at their career, their recent albums haven’t been so bad. Music of the Spheres won’t be an important work in the future of popular music, but I don’t see it as an atrocity either, as much of the critics have said.”
Critics of the band also criticize lead singer Chris Martin for his meekness as a rock star. He doesn’t brag about vices, he grinds at the gym and always has a smile on his face. But this is exactly what Shuarma, the leader of the Spanish group Elefantes, likes about him. “Chris Martin is simple, nothing fancy or eccentric. His power is that naturalness. I think it’s a time when the music culture is closer to the normal person than the rock star,” he tells EL PAÍS. “Music has taken a turn: records are no longer sold and music programs and magazines are no longer so influential. There are no more rock stars, the ones that survive are the ones from yesteryear.”
Shuarma admits he is more interested in Coldplay’s early music than their latest albums. “However, they continue to do wonderfully now as well. They have a tremendous compositional capacity and energy. And collaborating with artists from different styles, as they have done with BTS or Selena Gomez, I think it enriches the music.” Bakare agrees with Shuarma about Martin. “He’s a new kind of pop star, less cool, but who connects on an emotional level and people can relate to. Chris Martin is a nerd who grew up an evangelical Christian. And it has paved the way for musicians with similar profiles, such as Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi.”
It is true that Coldplay has been a stadium band for years, but now it has exceeded expectations. “Nobody can doubt its pull, the figures are tremendous. The images of the Wembley concerts have raised a lot of expectations,” says Cardenal. “Some are not fans of Coldplay, but are drawn to the show. It is also a concert which is considered an ‘event to be at.’ There are a lot of influencers, people taking photos for Instagram. They are fashions that bring together part of the population that wants to involved in what’s being talked about.” And there are the songs, of course, with the rousing choruses that work perfectly for large audiences.
We asked a college student who spent a morning in the virtual queue for Barcelona concert tickets why she wanted to see them. Blanca Liceras, a 23-year-old from Madrid: “I’m not a big fan of the group and I’ve barely listened to their latest album, but I decided to buy a ticket after seeing the videos of other concerts on social media: the lights, the different settings, how much fun people seem to have….”
The members of Coldplay met at university in the 1990s and moved to London full of ambition. “We wanted to meet musicians, the people with whom we were going to conquer the world,” they have reported on occasion. When Britpop (Oasis, Blur, Suede) was beginning its decline, a new generation of British musicians appeared who turned down the volume of the guitars, introduced the piano and spoke of melancholy love. It was the early 2000s. Coldplay, Travis, Keane and Snow Patrol were appearing at the top of the charts.
Of all of them, only Coldplay are capable of reaching large audiences today, partly due to their willingness to be a commercial pop group. Iglesias finds their evolution “quite honest, they have never tried to be an arty or sophisticated group.” Bakare points out: “They are fundamentally a commercial band that sometimes surprises us by winking at Kraftwerk. I always remember Noel Gallagher [Oasis] saying that Coldplay wrote songs for ‘children who wet the bed.’ The truth is that they make songs that connect with people on an emotional level, that’s why they perform in Spain and fill stadiums and Noel doesn’t.”
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