Joseph Stalin, who became the Soviet leader in 1924 and remained in power until his death in 1953, was the dictator who was training to be a priest when he turned to Marxism.

When Stalin was sixteen, he received a scholarship to attend the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary, the leading Russian Orthodox seminary in Tiflis. The language of instruction was Russian. Despite being trained as a priest, he became an atheist in his first year. He was a voracious reader and became a Georgian cultural nationalist. He anonymously published poetry in Georgian in the local press and engaged in student politics. He was expelled in 1899 after missing his final exams. The seminary's records also suggest that he was unable to pay his tuition fees. At that time, Stalin discovered the writings of Vladimir Lenin and joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, a Marxist group.

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