Saint Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles

St. Vladimir

St. Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles

… Vladimir invited missionaries from many countries to come to Kiev: Moslem Bulgarians who lived beyond the Volga river, German Latins, Jews and Greeks. The prince asked them about their creeds, and each of the visitors offered him his own belief. It was the Greek preacher who impressed Vladimir most of all. At the end of their conversation, the preacher described the day of the Lord’s judgment. Upon counseling with his boyars, Vladimir sent 10 wise men to find out whose faith was better. When the Russian envoys arrived in Constantinople they were impressed to the depth of their souls by the splendor of the St. Sofia cathedral, the harmonious singing of the royal choir and the grandeur of the service conducted by the Patriarch. “We were not even aware if we were on the earth or in heaven,” they related to Vladimir while recounting their impressions. And the boyars added, “If the Greek faith had not been superior to other beliefs, your grandmother, Olga, who was the wisest of living people, would not have embraced it.”

Vladimir decided to get baptized, but he did not want to turn Russia into a Greek subject. For this reason Vladimir started hostilities against Greece and occupied Hersones, from where he sent envoys to Constantinople demanding that the emperors Basilius and Constantine agree to his marrying their sister Anna. They replied that Anna could only marry a Christian. Then Vladimir declared that he is willing to accept Christianity. But prior to the bride’s arrival to Hersones, Vladimir was inflicted by blindness.

In this state, like the Apostle Paul, he became aware of his spiritual powerlessness and was prepared for the great miracle of rebirth. When the Princess arrived in Hersones, she advised Vladimir to get baptized as soon as possible. Vladimir was baptized in 988 and was named Vasilii. Upon coming out of the baptismal font he regained his physical and spiritual vision and exclaimed in rapture, “Now I have seen the true God!”

Influence of Christianity on the life of Russian people

Immediately after adoption, the Holy Christian faith began to effect positively the life of our ancestors. The society started practicing the Christian way of life such as frequent prayers, charity, and traveling to holy places to name a few. Especially pronounced was the beneficial influence of Christianity on the hearts and lives of some prominent personalities of that time. While a pagan Prince Vladimir was indulging in vices, he was also notorious for cruelty. Christian faith changed him as if he had been born again. He became reserved, chaste and compassionate towards the poor and disabled. Every day in his palace he would give alms to the beggars and send out everything necessary for nurturing the poor and disabled at their homes. …

Troparion

Sitting in the throne of the God-protected Kiev,/ thou wast like a merchant seeking goodly pearls, O Vladimir. /Thou didst search and send to the Imperial City/ to know the Orthodox Faith. / Thou didst find Christ the Pearl of great price,/ Who chose thee like Paul and enlightened thy blindness of flesh and spirit at the Font./ Thy people celebrate thy repose:/ wherefore pray for Russia and all peoples,/ that the Orthodox may be granted peace and great mercy. 

from: Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church: Great Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles and baptism of Russians

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