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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
15 July 2016
Greg Kandra




St. Vladimir embraced Christianity in the tenth century, and is considered the founder of the Eastern churches in the Belorussian, Carpatho-Rusyn, Russian and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox traditions. (photo: OCA.org)

Today, 15 July, marks the feast of St. Vladimir:

“The Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles.” Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of St. Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus.

Born in 956, Vladimir was raised a pagan, but converted to Christianity — the first ruler of the Rus’ to embrace the faith. The people of his country soon followed his example:

Then followed an unforgettable and quite singular event … the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the waters of the River Dneipr. On the evening before, St Vladimir declared throughout the city: “If anyone does not go into the river tomorrow, be they rich or poor, beggar or slave, that one shall be my enemy.” The sacred wish of the holy Prince was fulfilled without a murmur: “all our land glorified Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit at the same time.”

“Everywhere throughout Holy Rus, from the ancient cities to the far outposts, St. Vladimir gave orders to destroy the pagan sanctuaries, to flog the idols, and in their place to clear land in the hilly woods for churches, in which altars would be consecrated for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Churches of God grew up along the face of the earth, at high elevated places, and at the bends of the rivers, along the ancient trail “from the Variangians to the Greeks” figuratively as road signs and lamps of national holiness. Concerning the famed church-building activity of St Vladimir, the Metropolitan of Kiev St Hilarion (author of the “Word on Law and Grace”) exclaimed: “They demolished the pagan temples, and built up churches, they destroyed the idols and produced holy icons, the demons have fled, and the Cross has sanctified the cities.”

The man known as the “Baptizer of the Rus’ ” died on 15 July 1015, 28 years after his own baptism. He’s buried in a crypt in Kiev, now the capital of an independent Ukraine.

A beautiful troparion in the Orthodox tradition celebrates him as “another Paul”:

Holy Prince Vladimir
you were like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
By sending servants to Constantinople for the Orthodox Faith, you found Christ, the priceless pearl.
He appointed you to be another Paul,
washing away in baptism your physical and spiritual blindness.
We celebrate your memory,
asking you to pray for all Orthodox Christians and for us, your spiritual children.

Read more about his life here.



Tags: Russia Saints