Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Church of the Resurrection in the Grove, 1910. Digital color rendering. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-03975 (48)

Above is a picture taken by Sergi Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer to Tsar Nicholas II, of a Russian Orthodox Church. Under the Russian Empire, the Church played an important role in every day life. But, how did orthodoxy end up in Russia?

The Russian Empire considered itself the “Third Rome”, the new seat of power for the Roman Empire. The “First Rome” was in Rome itself, while the “Second Rome” was in Constantinople. It was the “Second Rome”, controlled by the Byzantine Empire that brought Eastern Orthodoxy to Russia in the 9th century through missionaries. Not only did these missionaries bring religion to Russia, they also brought the written language, cyrillic. Cyrillic is named after one of the Byzantine missionaries. The Russian Empire adopted a style of church similar to the Byzantine Churches, however the Russian Churches like Saint Basil’s in Moscow tend to be more colorful. The Tsars also adopted the Double Headed Eagle, the symbol of the Byzantine Emperor as the symbol of the Tsar. The Double Headed Eagle appeared on thrones, buildings and still appears on the russian ruble.

Religion affected many aspects of life in the Russian Empire. It brought the written language to Russia and influenced the Empire’s government.