The Theological and Spiritual Foundations of the Return to the Icon.

The war

        Before the war, when he had to work, Uspensky could not devote himself to icon painting. When he was requisitioned for compulsory work - the notorious STO(101),- he went underground to evade it; accused of desertion, he lived in hiding at his home. Such were the circumstances in which he entirely devoted himself to icons. At the time of the Liberation, in 1944, he started teaching, which he continued all his life, first at his home and later, at the workshop of the parish, Rue Pétel.

        Kyril Shevich had taken the decision of becoming a monk a long time before, but accepted his mother's wish and promised to wait until her death before doing so. Just before the war, at the end of August 1939, together with Leno Zander and Alexis Kniazeff, he made a pilgrimage on feet to Saint-Genevieve's cave in Sainte-Genevieve-des-bois. The following day, he was arrested by the French because of the Soviet-German Pact, most likely because of his activities with the "Mladorossi (102)», and was transferred to the Vernet camp, in the Pyrenees. He was arrested a second time - this time by the Germans - when the Pact was broken in June 1941 - and was interned in Compiegne. He would have died there had it not been for the intervention of a friend of his mother who knew Laval. Having return to Paris in the autumn and knowing that death could come at any moment, he decided not to wait any longer and became a monk (103) in the Holy Trinity parish.It was then that he began to take care of Father Gregory.

        After the years of intense life and suffering before the war, Georges Krug became ill and was confined at la Salpetrière. Father Sergius came to see him everyday. The doctor who was responsible for him quickly understood that it was not a mental problem (104)... So he entrusted him to Father Sergius's care as soon as the latter could take him with him. Father Sergius assigned the novice exclusively to icon painting and liturgical singing. With this treatment, Father Sergius not only healed him from his illness, but also made it possible to develop in him one of the greatest iconographic talents of the whole history of the Church.

        Metropolitans Eulogius and Nikolai of Kroutitsy, brought together on the occasion of the con-celebration that consecrated the return of all Russians of the emigration into the unity of the Patriarchal Church, ordained Father Sergius a priest in 1945 at Rue Daru, on Saint Alexander Nevsky's Day.

101) On the 16 February 1943 the Laval government passed the law of Compulsory Work Service: all young people enough to work had to go to work in Germany to take over from the French prisoners.

102) I.e.: " The Young Russians ", a political movement which emerged in the emigration and sought to reconcile monarchy with a revolutionary aspiration to freedom and justice. On this subject, see the recently published book of Mireille Massip about their leader Alexandre Kazem-Beg, 'La vérité est fille du temps', 1999, Genève.

103) On 18th November 1941, according to J.C.Larchet, Saint Silouane de l'Athos, Cerf, Paris, 2001, in the long note about Father Sergius's biography (n°9, p.397-398).

104) Cf. Catherine Aslanoff, " Le père Grégoire Krug: des ténèbres à la lumière ", a lecture given at a conference on the 30th anniversary of the death of Father Gregory in Paris in 1999 and published in 'Un peintre d'Icône; le père Grégoire Krug', Paris, IES, 2001, p.35-40.    

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