Christianization of Kievan Rus'

The Baptism of Kievans, a painting by Klavdiy Lebedev

The Christianization of Kievan Rus' took place in several stages. In early 867, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople announced to other Orthodox patriarchs that the Rus', baptised by his bishop, took to Christianity with particular enthusiasm. Photius's attempts at Christianizing the country seem to have entailed no lasting consequences, since the Primary Chronicle and other Slavonic sources describe the tenth-century Rus' as firmly entrenched in paganism. Following the Primary Chronicle, the definitive Christianization of Kievan Rus' dates from the year 988 (the year is disputed [1]), when Vladimir the Great was baptized in Chersonesus and proceeded to baptize his family and people in Kiev. The latter events are traditionally referred to as baptism of Rus' ( Russian: Крещение Руси, Ukrainian: Хрещення Русі) in Russian and Ukrainian literature.

Prehistory

According to the Church Tradition, Christianity was first brought to the territory of modern Belarus, Russia and Ukraine by Saint Andrew, the first Apostle of Jesus Christ. He traveled over the Black Sea to the Greek colony of Chersonesus Taurica in Crimea, where he converted several thousand men to new faith. Allegedly Saint Andrew traveled also north along the Dnieper River, where Kiev would be founded around the 5th century, and as far north as the future location of Veliky Novgorod. The legendary account of the Rus'ian Primary Chronicle tells that Saint Andrew was amused by the Slavic customs of washing in hot steam bath, banya, on his way.

North Pontic Greek colonies, both in Crimea and on the modern Ukrainian shores of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, remained the main centers of Christianity in Eastern Europe for almost a thousand years. Notable Christian locations there include the Inkerman Cave Monastery, a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St. Clement, the fourth Bishop of Rome, were supposedly kept before their removal to San Clemente by Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Saints Cyril and Methodius were the missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title "Apostles to the Slavs". They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic, [2] Later on their students created the Cyrillic script in the First Bulgarian Empire used now in many Slavic countries, including Russia. After their deaths, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavs. Both brothers are venerated in the Ukrainian Catholic and Byzantine Catholic Churches as well as the Orthodox Church as saints with the title of " equal-to-apostles".

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