Never underestimate a grandmother’s prayers

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who brought an end to the Cold War, was born into a family of committed atheists. But his grandmother had him secretly baptized by a Russian Orthodox priest, and she put an icon of Jesus on the wall in every room in the house. Gorbachev’s father, who was a staunch Communist, countered by putting a picture of Stalin next to each picture of Jesus. But in December 1989, just after the breaking down of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev went to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II. The two met and spoke in the Pope’s private library for seventy minutes. No one knows what they discussed, but what we do know is that what followed was the end of history’s first atheistic state. But I think the seeds of it were in that old grandmother’s faith.

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