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Francesca Silano

Providence College

Francesca Silano is a scholar of late-Imperial and Soviet Russian History. She is a specialist of the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the early years of the Bolshevik regime and examines the legal, cultural and religious impacts of the upheaval of revolution and civil war on lay believers, hierarchs, and the institutions of the Church. 

Her current book project, The Battle for Russia’s Souls: Patriarch Tikhon, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Soviet State, is under contract with Cornell University Press. It focuses on the figure of Tikhon (Bellavin), a bishop who, in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution, was elected patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church—the first to take up the post in over 200 years. The book reveals how the conflict between the patriarch and Bolshevik leaders became a means of self-definition for all the actors involved. She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming volume on religion and the Russian Revolution, and has published in a variety of journals and edited volumes. Her next major research project, Orthodoxy on Trial, focuses on the trials of hundreds of Orthodox lay believers in 1922-23.