Irkutsk, Russia


Paintings of Jesus graced the walls of Church of the Sign.

Inside Church of the Sign

Jim's father, a WWII veteran, posing with a Russian WWII vet outside the market in Irkutsk.

The Church of Sign, restored by exiled nuns and reopened after WWII (built in 1736)

The writing desk of Maria Volkonsky, one of the most prominent women in Russia who voluntarily followed her Decembrist husband into Siberian exile.

X B in Russian means Christ Revived.

One of the many scenes painted on the ceiling of Church of the Sign.

Just before an early evening service inside Church of the Sign, we saw many people, albeit most old, worshipping. Religion has rebounded with the fall of Communism.

The Chinese silent invasion manifests itself in many ways.

Siberian life and living

8 August 1999 – Decembrists, who revolted in December 1825, were exiled to Siberia. The Volkonsky Family House, now one of many Decembrist museums in Siberia, is where the Volkonsky family lived in a traditional Siberian wooden home (izba) with wooden gingerbread shutters, dark hardwood floors and wide wooden beams covering the ceiling.

The Volkonsky House pays tribute primarily to Maria, an aristocratic wife of one of the 22 exiled, married Decembrists. Maria opted to leave the comforts of the west and join her husband in Siberia even though the Czar and Church offered her freedom to remarry, a rarity in those days. Some of her clothes, shoes, a writing desk and music box are on display, along with portraits of 10 Decembrists’ wives lining the wall of a large upstairs room. Only 11 wives joined their exiled husbands in Siberia, and three are none to have stayed west. “What happened to the other eight women married to Decembrists?” I asked our young guide. “Who knows? They lost their places in history.”’


  The arrival of Jim's parents and a visit to the Irkutsk's Chinese market, the Volkonsky Family Home and a Russian Orthodox Church service (Paige)
  A conversation with an economics professor (Jim)