[St. Pachomius Library]

Fr. Paul Florensky

XIX/XX Centuries
A universal genius of the type more commonly associated with early modern times than with the XX Century, Florensky was a philosopher and art-critic of the Æsthetic Movement who studied mathematical physics (and was the first Russian mathematician to understand Cantor's theory of transfinite numbers) before becoming a married priest. He was close to most of the leading figures of the "Russian Religious Renaissance", especially the priest-intellectuals Sergius Bulgakov and Alexander Yelchaninov. After the Revolution, he returned to scientific work (primarily in engineering and applied science) while continuing to function as a priest. His undisputed technical brilliance and refusal to disguise his religious belief made him a problem in the eyes of the authorities, who could not decide whether to use him or eliminate him. Eventually they decided on the latter; he was sent to various labour camps (including Solovki) and died a prisoner under obscure circumstances.

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