Tuesday, 5 March 2013

988-2013 makes 1025 years!

The year 2013 will mark the 1025 year of Christening of the Kyvian Rus' Ukrainian State - 988 to the present. I'm hoping to get to Ukraine to catch a glimpse of how they might celebrate the date!  And here in Calgary, Ukraine's King Volodymyr is well represented by the impressive church on the hill in Bridgeland overlooking Memorial Drive.

By 980 King of Kyivan Rus', Volodymyr Sviatoslavich Rurikovich (958-1015) had consolidated his empire from Ukraine to the Baltic Sea, solidifying frontiers from any incursions. King Volodymyr established amazing international relationships with neighboring royal courts. Royally commanded, his boyars brought envoy delegations from the great religions of the world for Religion 101 - Comparative Studies (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) By 987 Volodymyr was drawn to Eastern Christianity, for the full festive ritual of the Byzantine church, the beauty, majesty and awed because "God dwells there.....". Bringing the Byzantine world closer through this relationship of faith was impressive.

Legend has it that Saint Andrew, the first Apostle of Christ, traveled over the Black Sea to the ancient Greek colony of Chersonesos, (literally peninsula - an ancient city and now an archaeological site near Sevastopol in the Crimea, Ukraine ) where the faith was accepted by many thousands. This video tour of Ancient Chersonesos is one of the sites on the Black Sea Odyssey tour, a place commemorating the place of Volodymyr's Christian Baptism.http://www.360cities.net/image/ancient-ruins-of-chersonesos-sevastopol#306.10,5.50,78.8

Saint Andrew is said to have traveled north up the Dnipro River to a place where Kyiv would in time be celebrated for its thousand golden domed temples. This ancient place retained its status in Eastern European Christianity from Saint Andrew's time.  The Christian Baptism of King Volodymyr the Great, and Kyivan Rus' made it a Metropolitanate of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Newly Christened, King Volodymyr received the Princess Anna of Constantinople in Christian marriage and initiated a campaign of Christianization in his nation of Kyivan Rus' (Ukraine). Removing pagan idols, deposing pagan wives, and adopting a new convert's zeal to the tasks before him, he compelled his household, court and officials to submit to a memorable Christian Baptism by immersion in the Dnipro River flowing through his city of Kyiv.

In 988 King Volodymyr's people walked into the water in the Obolon' area, a part of right bank Kyiv that is a floodplain between the River Dnipro and Pochaina.  Podil Raion (Lower City)  just above the floodplain contains construction dating back to at least the 9th to 11 centuries making it the oldest neighbourhood of the city of Kyiv and its historical center. A family member toured me through the  prestigious district years back, to The St. Elijah church (Ilinska Tserkva), the first Orthodox parish in Kyivan Rus'.  Records show that in 945 AD a Liturgy was served at the already built Church of Saint Elijah by the flowing river Dnipro.  Pagan warrior Princes of  Kyiv, Askold and Dir are said to have witnesses a miracle, and initiated its construction. Imagine a full immersion Christening in the Dnipro River, and appreciating the dry land ceremony of presentation in the temple of Saint Elijah only 1025 years ago!  

Rus' newly minted Christians took to their new moral code with enthusiasm, and trepidation. King Volodymyr set an admirable example for his people by freely giving money to the church, the poor, and hesitated to repeat his war craft or inflict capital punishment for fear of bearing sin. A role model, he generously funded the building of beautiful churches. Volodymyr directed clergy who remained in each newly Christianized city to teach spirituality, literacy, culture and economics in the accompanying schools built by his royal decree. Culture flourished. By 1015 he had calmed the spirits of many doubters.

So many historical references can be drawn from seeing the beautiful temple in honor of St. Volodymyr - Equal to the Saints, ideally situated with its panoramic vista of the Bow River in Calgary.  Enjoy!  http://www.beautifulalberta.com/ed-panoramas/st-vladimirs-ukrainian-orthodox-church-in-calgary/
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