“Communication through Donations” within the Religious Culture of the Kyivan Orthodox Metropolitanate in the late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
Donating to monasteries and churches was an important component of early modern religious culture. Donations and circumstances of their sacrifice reveal a personal idea of God and ways to achieve salvation, as well as characterize the religious consciousness of society. Donations served as a mediator between the earthly and heavenly worlds. The goal of donating was not simply to gift but to establish relationships of trust, reciprocity and devotion between a donor and a recipient. When donating to a church, a donator chose the place where the prayer for him would take place. Monasteries that received donations pledged to pray for each donator. As a result, a model of complex symbolic interactions was being formed.
Yet the historiography focuses mostly on a donation, not a donator himself. Less often scholars analyze specific examples of donating or represent donators on a base of the generalized information about their preserved gifts. There is an obvious need to alter the research perspective and concentrate on a social component of sacrifice.
This research therefore examines social interactions with regard to the provision of donations as a case study of the Kyivan Orthodox Metropolitanate in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It deals not with a donation as such, but with both a giver and a recipient and the interactions of donating that is the “communication through donations". The main research purpose is to trace the creation of sacred spaces and the formation of local sacred centers; to determine the hierarchy of sacred places, shrines and relics; to single out revered cults of saints; to identify the role of social interactions in providing donations for the formation of identities and religious culture.
The subject covers: communities of interaction, whose participants communicated with each other and the God by giving or accepting a donation; networks, i.e. interactions established by means of communication; centres of interactions, mainly of a sacred nature; realms of interactions.
The following objectives are to be achieved: to explore the vision of sacrifice by the Church and the flock; to elaborate a classification of donations; to reconstruct the social composition of donors; to explore religious practices in the field of donating; to investigate to what extent the religious practices were utilized on a purpose of forming identities and representing interests; to study the symbolic component of the “communication through donations"; to analyze the composition of donators and thus to outline the social, gender, as well as geographical and spatial, “dimensions" of the faith.
Most of the relevant archival sources, including images, verbal, material and behavioral sources, will be studied for the first time using microhistorical, quantitative, statistical, and prosopographic approaches in a frame of a broad comparative context. The main conceptual and methodological principles of the research correspond to those set out in the relevant paragraphs of the POLY project, within which the study is planned.