** Kievian Rus Christianity conversion

Kievian Rus: Christian Conversion (10th century)

Figure 1.-- This paintging by V. M. Vasnetsov is one of his many religious canvases. It is titled 'The Baptism of Rus', meaning the baptism of Vladamir the Great. It depcts the icomic 988 scene. In the center of the imag is Vladimir Svyatoslavovich, known as Vladimir the Red Sun.

Church tradition reports that Christianity in the area of Eastern Europe (modern Belarus, Russia and Ukraine) was first introduced by Saint Andrew. It is difficult to know the facts as opposed to the legend. Christianity for some time was limited to the North Pontic Greek colonies, both in Crimea and on the modern Ukrainian shores of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea as does not seem to ave penetrated inland. Brother saints Cyril and Methodius were important missionaries to the Slavic peoples of the Balkans (Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia). They had a major impact on the cultural development of the Slavs and became known as the 'Apostles to the Slavs'. The Glagolitic alphabet is attributed to them. It was the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic. Their s tdents devised the Cyrillic script during the First Bulgarian Empire and it is now used in many Slavic countries, including Bulgaria and Russia. Their followers continued missionary work among other Slavs. Both Cyril and Methodiuss are today venerated in the Ukrainian Catholic and Byzantine Catholic Churches as well as the Orthodox Church as saints with the title of 'equal-to-apostles'. The Rus as late as the 10th century, however, were still a pagan people. [Primary Chronicle] The conversion of the Kievan Rus took place in different stages. The Kievian Rus began to become Christianized (860-67). The precises details are largely unknown, in part because the ecclesiastical history of Byzantium during the early 9th century is largely unknown. [Ericsson] Problems in the historiography exist in part because of infighting with the Byzantine leadership. [Poppe] As well as can be constructed, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople began the process. He announced to the other Christian patriarchs at the time that that the Rus had been baptized by his bishop and they accepted Christianity with notable fervor. More accurately the process had begun. Photius's efforts at Christianizing the Rus appears to have been accepted with no real consequences. The major even was the baptism of Vladimir the Great in Chersonesus and proceeded to baptize his family and people in Kiev (about 988). In Russian historiography this is referred to as the baptism of the Rus'.


Ericsson, K. "The eraliest conversiion od Rus' to Christianity," Slavonic and East European Review Vol. 44, No. 102 (January 1, 1966).

Poppe, Andrzej. "How the conversion of Rus' was understood in the eleventh century," Harvard Ukrainian Studies Vol. 11, No. 3/4 (December 1987), pp. 287-302.

Primary Chronicle. The Primary Chronicle traces the history of the Slavic people all the way back to the times of Noah. It was formerly referred to as the Chronicle of Nestor.


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Last updated: 10:46 AM 12/9/2021