“Russia will become Catholic.” This inscription was affixed to the tomb of Father Gregory Augustin Maria Shuvalov in the cemetery of Montparnasse in Paris. The Russian Barnabite has sacrificed himself for this purpose.
Count Gregor Petrovich Shuvalov was born on 25 October 1804 in Saint Petersburg as the son of an old noble family. An uncle, who, like his father, was the Tsar’s general, was commissioned to bring defeated Napoleon to the island of Elba. Another ancestor is the founder of the Lomonossov University in Moscow.
Gregor studied from 1808-1817 at the Jesuit College in Saint Petersburg. When the Jesuits were expelled from Russia, he continued his studies in Switzerland and then at the University of Pisa, where he also learned the Italian language to perfection. He was, however, influenced by materialism and nihilism, which then prevailed in the liberal circles in which he lived. Czar Alexander I appointed him an officer of the Hussarsky, and returned to Russia.
At the age of 20 he married Princess Sophia Saltikov, the daughter of Prince Alexander Saltikov, who was a member of the Crown Council and the Foreign Affairs Council. Sophia was a deeply religious woman, Orthodox, but “Catholic in soul and heart”. She was only 34 years old when she died of tuberculosis in Venice in 1841.
Shuvalov had her buried in Russia on a family estate near Saint Petersburg. She had given him four children, two sons and two daughters, of whom Alexander and Natalia had already died in infancy. His son Peter became a member of the Council of Internal Affairs and married the Princess Maria Gagarin. Helena married Alexander Skariatin, a collector of old music and son of the Russian Major General Gregor Skariatin.
Roberto de Mattei