Folklore and Conspiracy Theories of a COVID Dissenter: The Life and Sermons of Father Sergii (Romanov)


  • J. Eugene Clay Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA



The religious studies scholar Bruce Lincoln famously defined myth as “ideology in narrative form” that “naturalizes and legitimizes” social taxonomies. Over two decades, Father Sergii (Romanov), a convicted murderer who turned to
religion while in prison, has used myth to shape his public persona, legitimize his spiritual leadership, cultivate the loyalty of his followers, and articulate a vision of holy Russia that seeks to reconcile the Soviet and imperial pasts. Weaving his personal biography into a narrative of national redemption from the sin of regicide, he has helped construct and lead a complex of monasteries. Drawing on a variety of narratives that emphasize Russian exceptionalism, Sergii and his admirers present the cleric as a divinely appointed emissary to lead their nation to spiritual greatness. Je conspiracy theories that support this worldview have also encouraged Sergii to denounce both secular and ecclesiastical authorities and to reject public health measures designed to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Despite his revolt against his bishop, Sergii remained in control of his convent until his dramatic arrest on 29 December 2020. Jis article analyzes some of Sergii’s most
significant narratives, traces their origins, and weighs their social implications.







How to Cite

Clay, J. Eugene. 2021. “Folklore and Conspiracy Theories of a COVID Dissenter: The Life and Sermons of Father Sergii (Romanov)”. FOLKLORICA - Journal of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Folklore Association 24 (July): 135-62.