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The Day the Vicar caught fire

H P Blavatsky survives a shaky start

to move on to great things



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Helena Petrovna von Hahn (later Blavatsky after she got married and did a runner) was born in the early hours of July 31st 1831 Russian calendar (August 12th on ours) at Ekaterinsoslav now Dniepropetrovsk in the Ukraine.


Helena was born prematurely and in those days the doctors couldnít do much so you either lived or you didnít. The situation was made worse by the fact that her mother was stricken with Cholera while giving birth (how bad can it get). Not surprisingly Helena wasnít expected to make it so they got the local priest in sharpish to do the christening.


This was a Russian Orthodox service which lasts quite a long time and everybody (entire household) stands for the duration and many participants hold candles.


The priest was wearing a voluminous golden robe especially for the occasion and right behind him was Helenaís three year old Aunt Nadyezdha holding a candle. This is of course a recipe for disaster and little Nadyezdha eventually nodded off with the candle in her hand and set fire to the priestís robe.


The priest was a bit more fortunate than Miss Haversham in Great Expectations and there were several people still alert enough to extinguish the fire before he was injured.


After this shaky start Helena von Hahn went on to become H P Blavatsky and her mother Helena Andreyevna von Hahn made a full recovery from cholera. They were tough in those days.


There is no further info on the career of the priest.



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