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The article presents for the first-time information about the phenomenon of folk religion of the 19th – early 20th century, poorly described in modern literature – Catholic statues of Jesus Christ (usually miraculous), which were associated with stories telling about the hair spontaneously growing on the statues’ heads, crying or moving of these sculptures, etc. The article shows that such stories had been appearing in various cities (Vilna, Surazh, Chashniki, Krivichi, etc.) since at least the middle of the 19th century. It is established that the period of mass existence of such stories was characterized by a general surge of stories about miracles in Europe (1850s – 1870s) and the Western Edge of the Russian Empire (1840s – early 1880s). Using the example of other similar objects of religious worship, the author provides a possible rational reason for the occurrence of such miracles, related to the peculiarities of making wigs from real human hair. The author supposes that society, and especially the common people at that time had a high demand for miracles, which naturally began arising everywhere in different new forms. The author concludes that although the stories about such figures were supposed to emphasize the connection of a static and immovable image with the world of the living, people willed rather to see and believe in the miracle itself than to attach any serious significance to it. The article also determines that stories about statues with growing hair, once having got in fertile ground, could quickly appear and become overgrown with rumors and legends characteristic of stories about the supernatural.

Keywords: miracle, stories of miracles, Catholicism, statues of Jesus Christ, miraculous figures, folk religion

DOI: 10.22250/20728662_2022_3_85

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About the author

Ilya S. ButovPhD (Agricultural Sciences), Senior Research Fellow at the Republican Laboratory of Historical and Cultural Heritage of the National Research University “Center for Research of Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus”; bld. 2, 1 Surganov str., Minsk, 220072, Republic of Belarus; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.