Saint Vladimir, the one called “Like the Apostles and the Enlightener of Russia”, is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on July 15. He was born around 958 and passed away on 15 July 1015 in the town of Berestovo, near Kyiv.
Vladimir Sviatoslavich was born around 958 as the son of Prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty and grandson of Saint Olga, Empress of Russia, who was honored by the Orthodox Church on July 11. The christening of Empress Olga did not lead to the conversion of the Russian people, as would have been desired, nor of the imperial family. The Empress’s son, Prince Sviatoslav, fearing losing the respect of the army, did not embrace his mother’s faith and remained a pagan. Empress Olga’s faith worked, however, in her grandson, Vladimir the Great, who, in 988, proclaimed the Christian faith as the official religion of Kievan Russia.
With the help of a relative, who ruled the land of Norway, Prince Vladimir returned to his homeland and recaptured the fortress of Novgorod.
What was Vladimir known for?
When the soldiers arrived in Constantinople, after attending the Holy Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of St. Sophia, they told their ruler: “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth, for we found nowhere else so beautiful a ceremony. We only know that there, God remains together with people, and Orthodox worship surpasses any other. We cannot forget that beauty and, we are sure, it would be impossible for us to live in Russia otherwise than they do!”
Vladimir the Great is known for having been the Grand Duke of Kyiv between 980-1015. Being a pagan like his father, Vladimir was a persecutor of Christians. Following a battle with Yaropolk, Prince Vladimir conquered other Russian territories. He placed pagan statues in all the towns, but in particular the statue of the idol Perun.
In 987, after a meeting with his nobles, Vladimir the Great decided to send envoys to other neighboring countries to learn about other beliefs. So the soldiers investigated the beliefs they came across, including those practiced by Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the west.
Biography of Vladimir
Full name: Vladimir I of Kiyv
Date of birth: 0956 AD
Death day: 15 July, 1015 AD
The thread of life: 69 years old
Place of birth: Russia
Father's name: Norman-Rus prince Svyatoslav of Kyiv
Mother's name: Malusha
Spouse: Anna Porphyrogenita
Grand Princess consort of Kiev
Physical appearance: tall, handsome features and blue eyes color.
Summary of life: Vladimir I, or sometimes Volodimir I, also popularly called the Holy One, the Great One, or the Like of the Apostles (born 958, died 15 July 1015 at Berestova astzi Kiev), ruled with an iron fist from 980 to 1015.
Life lessons: Vladimir realised that without faith he could do nothing, he gave him 6,000 Vagaran warriors and received in return the hand of Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, the Emperor's sister, on condition that Vladimir would switch to Christianity
Life accomplishments: Vladimir, the future Grand Kievan Grand Duke of Kyiv and sole ruler of all Russia, was the son of Sviatoslav, grandson of Igor and the future St. Olga, and great-grandson of Rurik, the one called to the kingship of Russia. Rurik had established his throne in Great Novgorod; and Igor, Rurik's descendant, after his father's death, moved his throne to Kyiv and had a son, namely Sviatoslav.
Death cause: Natural causes.
Why did Vladimir convert to Christianity?
Princess Anna Porphyrogenita came to Vladimir’s palace accompanied by Bishop Michael and many priests.
Encouraged by his soldiers, who had learned and experienced the Christian faith in the Byzantine Empire, Vladimir the Great converted and was baptized a Christian in the city of Cherson, taking the name of Basil in honor of his future brother-in-law. After the wedding, Vladimir and Anna returned to Kyiv with great pomp. Inda ta, the monarch ordered the destruction of pagan statues and the building of Christian churches.
Among the first churches built by the kings was the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, built-in 989, which is considered the first stone church built in Kyiv. He also helped the monasteries of Mount Athos.
Who converted Russia to Christianity?
Meanwhile, Vladimir the Great continues to conquer new territories. In 988, after conquering the Crimean lands of Cherson and Tavrichia, he sent a letter to Emperor Basil II the Bulgarocton with the declared intention of marrying his 27-year-old sister Anna.
Recovering the sight he had lost, Vladimir was the one who converted Russia to Christianity, for he urged everyone in his army to be baptized. By 979, almost all of his people and Russia were baptized and believed in God. It is said that before Princess Anne arrived at the palace, Vladimir blinded her.
Saint Vladimir the Great was the father of Prince Boris and Gleb, canonized by the Orthodox Church and celebrated on 24 July (the passing away) and 3 May (the moving of the holy relics). Saint Vladimir passed away on 15 July 1015 in the town of Berestovo, near Kyiv.
Who is Vladimir in history?
Saint Vladimir was a devout pagan in the early years of his life. He was a great conqueror who had many wives and erected many pagan statues in the territory he ruled.
In history, Vladimir I (Sviatoslavich), alternatively Volodimir I, also called the Holy, the Great, the Apostle-like, the Baptist of Kievan Russia (b. 958 – d. 15 July 1015) was from 980 to 1015 the Grand Cenacious of Kyiv when Orthodoxy was introduced to the territories that today form Russia and Ukraine. He was the youngest illegitimate son of the ruricid dynasty (of Scandinavian origin) of the kingship of Sviatoslav I.
In addition, he is the grandson of Saint Olga and the father of Saints Boris and Gleb the Tormentors (and the first saints of the Russian lands). In 988, on the occasion of his marriage to Anna of Byzantium, daughter of Emperor Romanos II, he adopted Eastern Christianity for himself and Kievan Russia. He is celebrated by the Church on 15 July.
Key Verse related to Saint Vladimir
“Prince Vladimir was a pagan in his childhood and youth, as was the majority of the population under his reign. Vladimir was a great conqueror. His goal was to expand his kingdom. He had many wives, just like his predecessors.”
Why did Vladimir the Great choose Christianity?
According to historical sources, St. Vladimir the Great converted and choose Christianity because God restored his sight. Heeding the words of his envoys, St Vladimir himself and his subjects were baptized into the Orthodox Church.
Was Vladimir the Great Russian?
Vladimir’s life, his ignorance of God and paganism, the murder of his brother, his bloodshed, his bravery and his many wars, his devilish services, and his passion for women, are all written at length in the history of St. Nestor of Pecerska and other Russian histories written by hand.
About Vladimir the Great it is known that he was a Russian man. For he was born to Russian parents and grandparents and was born in the lands of Russia.
But we do not want to describe his impure and sinful life, but his righteous and holy one. This we do so that we may not dwell long on his evil deeds, which he had done before receiving the holy faith.
- Vladimir ordered at first to baptize his sons, 12 in number, whom he had with several women: Iziaslav, Mstislav, Iaroslav, Vsevolod with Rohmida, a Lezhetian lady; Sviatopolc with his brother’s wife, a Greek woman; Viseslav with a Czech lady; Sviatoslav and Stanislav with another Czech lady; Boris and Gleb with a Bulgarian woman; Vriacislav and Sudislav with another woman. These were all baptized by Metropolitan Mikhail in the spring, as there was still no church in Kyiv after the demolition of the previous ones. That spring in the mountain near the river Nipru has been called from that time to the present, Charismatic.
- It has been speculated that Rogneda belonged to the royal family Ynglingar of Norway. Around 980, Vladimir learned that Rogneda had become engaged to his half-brother, Iaropolk I of Kyiv, conquered Polokwice, and forced Rogneda to marry him. He raped Rogneda in the presence of her parents, then ordered them killed, along with two of Rogneda’s brothers.
- So Vladimir, lying many days and doing all things fitting to his end, in good confession gave his soul into the hands of God, on the fifteenth day of July, in the year of the making of the world 6513 according to the number of the years of St. Nestor of Pecerscai, and from the incarnation of God the Word, 1005.
Vladimir the Great decided to send envoys to other neighboring countries to learn about other faiths. So the soldiers investigated the beliefs they encountered, including those practiced by Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the west.
Encouraged by his soldiers, who had learned about the Christian faith in the Byzantine Empire, Vladimir the Great has baptized a Christian in the city of Cherson, taking the name Basil in honor of his future brother-in-law.
Trivia about Saint Vladimir the Great
- Cross, S. H. (1931). La tradition islandaise de Saint Vladimir. Revue des etudes slaves, 11(3/4), 133-148.
- Filipović, S. T. (2012). Saint Vladimir of Zeta Between Historiography and Hagiography.
- Miller, R. T. (2011). Waiting for Saint Vladimir. First Things, 37.
- Rostovtsev, E., & Sosnitsky, D. (2019). Saint Vladimir as a national hero: the revival of the image. ДИАЛОГ СО ВРЕМЕНЕМ, (69), 307-321.
- Soloviev, V. (1888). Saint Vladimir et l’État chrétien. L’Univers, 4, 11-19.