In a uncommon venture into well-liked culture, bearded Russian Orthodox priests have posed as models for a glossy 2016 calendar — cuddling their pet cats.
The calendar place collectively by an Orthodox news website sees 12 smiling priests in dark robes relaxing with their cats — sitting side-by-side on the sofa, or having the pet sprawled on their chest or draped round their shoulders.
It is the 1st calendar to depict priests in such a style, according to a single of the creators, Ksenia Luchenko, a journalist at the Pravmir website who came up with the thought.
She conceded Russia’s potent church was not usually open to such an informal depiction of its clerics.
“That is why we did it ourselves. We’re not linked to official structures,” Ms Luchenko said.
Religious-themed calendars generally just depict holy icons. The calendar is not officially endorsed by the Russian Orthodox Church.
“It is all their own cats — nothing was staged,” Ms Luchenko said of the casting method for the calendar.
“It was whoever had a cat and was prepared to pose for a photo.”
Nonetheless the cat-owning priests in the charming black-and-white shots by Anna Galperina turned out to be “good-searching,” she added.
Senior church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin told a local radio station it was “not a fantastic sin” but added: “I wouldn’t hang such a calendar on my wall.”
But the notion has won praise from media, with the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid writing that “the priests are type and twinkly, and the cats are cute and fluffy”.
The calendar was even covered by Russian Cosmopolitan magazine.
“Not all priests agreed to do it. Not every person desires that type of publicity,” Ms Luchenko stated.
The calendar named “Pop i Kot” or “Priest and Cat” grew out of a photography book project displaying Russian priests in their daily lives, she mentioned.
“By chance we had a photo of a priest with a cat and I thought: why not do a series?” Ms Luchenko said.
The Russian calendar had an initial print run of 1,000 copies but that looks likely to be extended.
Ms Luchenko mentioned numerous churches had ordered them to sell in their shops.
The creators have also planned a presentation with some of the priest models later this month, raising funds for an animal shelter.
Topics: religion-and-beliefs, community-and-society, animals, offbeat, russian-federation