For the Record: Francis and the St. George Ribbon

Perhaps in ostensible honor of today being St. George’s Day on the Old (Julian) Calendar, Russian State Duma deputy Pavel Dorokhin bestowed the Ribbon of St. George on Pope Francis who then, apparently, proceeded to wear it with pride.

For those unaware, the Ribbon is a symbol of Russian military and imperial might which, since the Euromaidan, has become synonymous with militant pro-Russian, anti-Catholic dissidents in Ukraine. Was the Holy Father unaware of this? Shouldn’t someone in his inner circle be world-savvy enough to know about this? Strange times these be.

Update 5/6: Read more here.

Update 5/8: Read more here.


  1. You sure about that? The St. George ribbon is, as far as I see it, still primarily a “hey remember that time we beat the Nazi’s” thing. Which is why you see it now, with Victory Day being on May 9th. Victory Day is still a major public holiday, and a big part of the national consciousness, far beyond however His Putinness might try to appropriate it for current events.

    I think that suggesting it has necessarily got some anti-Ukrainian sentiment is sorta like suggesting that everyone who waves an American flag is incorporating some pro-Trump anti-immigrant symbol.

    1. I am sure about it. Whatever the ribbon’s symbolic purchase within Russia, within Ukraine, it has been promoted as a symbol of pro-Russian dissidents. Ukraine. There have been movements to ban or replace the ribbon in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Latvia.

      I have a hard time believing that giving the ribbon to Francis didn’t have an intended message attached. Moreover, it seems strange that a pope who has made peace one of the central focuses of his papacy would wear a martial decoration, even if the underlying cause was just.

      1. eh, I still think you’re taking it out of context. Waiving a St. George ribbon around in Kiev on some random Thursday would mean something very different from wearing one in Moscow this weekend.

        The simplest answer to your questions it that its a one-off bit of generic nationalism from a Russian politician. So PFI does they typical diplomatic thing and smile and wave. This isn’t some clandestine bit of propaganda meant to erode the heroic resolve of the heroic ukrainian people. (I also believe that you over-sectarianize the conflict, but that’s another debate for another time).

        Besides, even assuming PFI knows what’s up, what’s the alternative? “Pope refuses to be seen with symbol of Russia’s victory over Naziism! Is Pope Francis a crypto-nazi?”

        1. I can see the accusation that I am being sectarian, but no more than you are. I think any soberminded analysis of (Western) Ukraine’s history, culture, national awakening in the 18th-19th centuries, and so forth reveals pretty well that it does not see itself as a borderland extension of Russia — quite the opposite, actually. Unfortunately, partitioning Ukraine would do far more harm than good in the short-term and that’s not what Ukraine (or Europe or Russia) needs. And for the record, a majority of Ukraine’s Christian population — Catholic and Orthodox — are not siding with the Russians on this one. By all accounts the Russian State’s power play in Ukraine has seriously injured the otherwise positive representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and strengthened the KP’s position considerably.

          1. Im hardly siding with Russia or the MP on this one. I just think the sectarian issues are a result, rather than a cause of the conflict.

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