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Finland: The Country of White Lilies

About Grigory Petrov

This biographical novel, The Land of White Lilies, was penned by the Russian Grigoriy Spiridonovich Petrov. Grigoriy Petrov was born on January 26, 1866 in Yamburg, a small town in Petersburg. He briefly describes himself as “the son of a middle-class person, and in his childhood a shepherd.” “He is the son of a tavern or a kiosk, and he heard nothing but swearing in his childhood and never saw anyone except drunk people.”

Petrov, who started his education at the Narva High School, settled in Petersburg and then graduated first from the seminary school and then from the theological academy in 1891. The young and talented priest gradually became known as a wanted and respected preacher in the capital. Petrov, who has literary talent as well as his rhetoric skills, was written in a simple and at the same time exciting style and was read by different segments of the public. In 1907, when his reputation grew the most, Grigoriy Petrov was accused of “spreading duties that contradicted the teachings of the Orthodox Church and contained disrespectful approaches to the authority chosen by God and appointed. At the end of this accusation, Petrov was imprisoned in the monastery. After receiving his title, a ban was imposed on entering and living in Moscow and Petersburg for seven years. Since 1908, Petrov had to live in Finland and sometimes in Crimea, while constantly changing his residence. Until the revolution years He lived under constant police surveillance during his period. In 1920, when White Army troops began to leave Crimea, at the end of 1920, Petrov had to leave his homeland hastily. It is known that his wife, who was very afraid of the danger of being imprisoned and persecuted by the Bolsheviks, took this step as a result of long persuasion efforts. Petrov, who came to Istanbul by ferry, then went to the refugee camp in Gallipoli and from there to Trieste in Italy. He was invited to Belgrade by the government of Yugoslavia after the Yugoslavs who read his articles communicated with him. Thus, Petrov’s second, emigrant life began. The Petrov family was able to get together at the end of 1923. Up to that time, Petrov, who lived in Belgrade, mostly wrote articles for newspapers, while his books were published in Serbian and Bulgarian languages. His old and devoted friend, Dinyo Bojkov, translated these texts into Bulgarian and ensured that they were published. Bojkov wrote about 50 books by Petrov in his memoirs. He says he is publishing.


“In the Land of White Lilies” is one of Petrov’s last books. Immediately after the completion of the book in 1923, its Serbian edition was published. Before Petrov had the opportunity to see this book, it was determined that he had an incurable cancer. He passed away on 18 June 1925 at the Maison de Santé clinic near Paris after the surgery he was taken. Petrov’s tomb is located today in the Ostfriedhof Cemetery in Munich.

Finland and Grigory Petrov

It focuses on Finland in the Land of White Lilies. The book tells the story of raising this small country, which is located between swamps and rocks, which is poor in natural resources, from poverty and transforming into a politically, economically and culturally developed welfare society. “Why Finland?” he may ask. It is not difficult to explain this. Petrov knew Finland much better than any other country, because he had lived in this country for a long time and traveled all over him. But the other, perhaps the most important reason, is the sincere admiration, warmth and closeness he feels towards Finland.

Reality lies at the heart of the White Lilies legend, as the main picture of Finland’s historical development was accurately drawn by Petrov. Real events constitute the basis of what is said about the national awakening of the Finnish people and the sincere and devoted struggle of thousands of Finns for the development of their country.


The book, which was translated into Turkish from Bulgarian, took its place in bookstores in Istanbul in 1928. In those years, the modernization process led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was going on in the country, which was in a period of breaking. It is not known how Petrov’s book got into the hands of Atatürk. But after reading the book, Atatürk ordered that all educational institutions in the country, especially military schools, be included in the curriculum. Turkish officers have read the book “In the Land of White Lilies”, which is accepted as a guide in the “renewal of life” studies in their country, as a compulsory source work for many years. The book reached at least 16 editions in Turkey, each edition ranging from 12 thousand to 25 thousand. In the preface of one of the editions, it is stated that the book titled “In the Land of White Lilies” is the most read book among the books published in contemporary Turkish in Turkey.





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