Public Lecture: Pavel Florenskij. A Heritage for the Twenty-First Century
Carmelite Institute Malta in collaboration with the Faculty of Theology and the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, in occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the untimely death of Pavel Florenskij, one of Russia’s most erudite and prolific thinkers, is organising a public lecture to honour his memory and heritage for the twenty-first century.
Pavel Florenskij (1882-1937), perhaps one of the greatest eclectic minds of the twentieth century, was a physicist, philosopher and theologian, priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, husband, father of five children, art and literary critic, and, most importantly, a mystic. Florenskij could perhaps best be described as spiritual yet equally concrete, orthodox yet equally progressive, scientific yet equally artistic, restless yet equally rooted in God. He was known among his peers as the Russian Leonardo da’ Vinci.
Florenskij’s heritage is exceedingly rich for us to ponder. He worked tirelessly to reform the Church spiritually, internally, at a time when the majority of clerics sought institutional remedies to solve the problems that the Orthodox Church was facing at the time. At the time of the Soviet atheistic rule, he also cooperated with the Government in areas of engineering, chemistry, and physics, teaching and researching in many governmental institutions and bringing forward many important projects as well as ground-breaking discoveries. He was also a man of the arts, an admirer of marionette theatres, a critic of iconographic art, an avid reader of world literature – like Shakespeare and Goethe –, and, being a pianist himself, was great friends with musicians like Aleksandr Skrjabin and Marija Judina. He was a Symbolist, meaning that for him in this visible world is incarnated or manifested another spiritual world that is distinct but not separate from the physical world we see around us. If one looked closely at the visible world, tears, as it were, could be perceived unto the invisible world. Last, but certainly not least, Florenskij was also a man of many friendships. His correspondences show us a man of extreme approachability, gentleness, and respect and love for the others, be they work colleagues, childhood friends, devotees seeking direction, or simply family members asking how he and his wife and children are doing.
For us in the twenty-first century, Florenskij shines as an example of wholeness, which he sought not only in his academic career but most especially in his friends, in his family, and in himself.
The lecture will be delivered in English, and refreshments will follow.
The lecture will be delivered by guest speaker Distinguished Professor Rev. Vladimir Fedorov from the Russian Christian Humanitarian Academy (St Petersburg, Russia). Rev. Fedorov is an ordained priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. He has taught theology in the St Petersburg Theological Academy as well as the Universities of Münich, Münster and Hamburg in Germany. He has also taught psychology in the St Petersburg State University. He has served in the Synodal Theological Commission and in the World Council of Churches. He is also Director of the Orthodox Institute of Missiology, Ecumenism, and New Religious Movements, President of the St Petersburg-based Inter-Church Partnership “Nevsky Prospekt”, and Vice-President of the East-European Association of Missiological Studies.