In 2015 Russia marks the 1000th death anniversary of St. Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles. The church equals the deeds of St. Vladimir the Evangelizer of Russia to those of Christ’s Apostles. In the late 13th – early 14th centuries the Russian Orthodox Church proclaimed Prince Vladimir a Saint Equal to the Apostles. The day of his veneration is the Day of Russia’s Christianization.
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Address at the gala reception
Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, esteemed guests, colleagues, friends,
These days Russia and the entire Orthodox world are celebrating the Christianization of Rus’.
It is impossible to over-estimate the significance of this event – the acquisition of faith and spiritual support. Christening clearly became a turning point in the history of Russia, in the statehood and culture of this country. It is our common duty to honour this momentous stage in Russia’s development. Gathered here today are representatives of bodies of power, civil unions, the Russian Orthodox and local Orthodox Church hierarchs and representatives of all the traditional religions of Russia, which as a state was built on a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional basis.
The Christianization of Rus’ has become embedded in the church tradition and the people’s memory alongside the name and deeds of St. Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles. His 1000th death anniversary gave us another opportunity to perceive the scale of his personality as an outstanding creator of Russia, the significance of his decision for generations to come, to perceive the continuity of our age-long history and the unbreakable bond to the legacy left by our ancestors.
Prince Vladimir was destined to become a great ruler. His choice was discerning and extremely responsible and became the source of Russia’s development as a unique country and civilization.
The adoption of Christianity was based on Prince Vladimir’s deep love for his Fatherland, on his serious spiritual reflection, on his search for a single baseline that could unite the people and the dispersed lands.
The Russian Primary Chronicle says, “The amount of good he did for Russia by Christening it is amazing”. By putting and end to feuds and rebuffing outside enemies Prince Vladimir launched the creation of a single Russian people; he actually paved the way towards a strong centralized Russian state.
Rus’ became strong, gaining power and authority among its neighbors near and far, communicating on an equal footing with peoples both East and West of it.
The Prince’s decision reflected the striving of our people to the lofty ideals of goodness, truth and justice, to fraternal unity and solidarity the world over. Fyodor Dostoyevsky called this ‘overall humanity’.
The great Prince Vladimir became a true builder of his land, the founder of its cultural and economic development, a wise and far-sighted ruler of Russia. He remained that way after the holy Christening at the ancient city of Khersones, or Korsun. These spiritual sources continue to nourish the fraternal peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
We remain true to the choice made by Prince Vladimir. We value peace and accord in our multi-ethnic land, working together for its flourishing, treating the traditions of all its people and traditional religions of Russia with respect.
Allow me, once again, to congratulate you, Your Holiness, and all those present on Russia’s Christening Day, on Prince Vladimir’s Memorial Day. I wish you success in your diverse spiritual activities, in your important and responsible service to the people of Russia.
Thank you for your attention.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: Your Excellency, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, honourable representatives from local Orthodox churches, high government representatives, Your Excellencies, reception participants,
I would like to welcome everyone who has gathered at the Moscow Kremlin to celebrate the Day of Rus’s Baptism and the thousand-year anniversary since the repose of Prince Vladimir.
The life of Prince Vladimir provides us with a clear example of heroism – both personal and public heroism – which affected the fate of many peoples and millions of individuals. Upon being baptised and changing his life and the way of life for his subjects, he set a fundamentally new standard for personal and public behaviour, based on evangelical precepts. Before, murder, human sacrifice, deception and greed were considered normal and, as many felt at the time, the correct means to achieve power and happiness; but after the Prince of Kiev’s historical act, the common understanding of what is good and bad, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable changed. Of course, crime did not disappear from the life of the eastern Slavic tribes, but they forever lost the aura of something permissible, necessary and lawful.
By choosing a pious way of life, launching the widespread construction of temples and churches, demonstrating consistent concern for the troops and common people, the poor and even the criminals, the wise ruler, popularly known as the Red Sun, proved to his subjects that God’s truth and living by the Gospel of Christ is far greater than human glory, honour and wealth. But Prince Vladimir did not just accept baptism from Constantinople’s ambassadors and Korsun’s clergy. As we know from the chronicles, in search for power, beauty and truth, St. Vladimir had previously analysed various spiritual traditions and the cultures that had formed on their basis. For his people, for the consolidating Rus’, he chose the high ideals of Byzantium’s statehood and literacy. In that historical era, no culture or state was more developed than the Byzantine Empire. His desire to use that highly-educated Christian nation as his example determined the path of our Fatherland’s development for centuries to come. Thus, the Prince’s religious selection also meant choosing the Christian way of life, its social life, its style of culture and way of thinking, a choice of a civilised code that stood apart becausethis social structure was formed on the basis of Christian values, and opened opportunities for individuals from any religion or view on life to live with most people, without feeling inferiority or discrimination. It is remarkable that these principles, which were laid like seeds during Prince Vladimir’s time, flourish today, allowing for our nation’s existence and peaceful development.
Thus, thanks to the Christian teachings and aesthetics brought to the land of Rus’, we saw masterpieces such as the creations by Rublev, Dionysius, unique ensembles of Russian monasteries and kremlins, the lyricism of Russian Orthodox prayers and hymns. In turn, the church’s cultural influence became the foundation for social culture giving the world the works of Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and a list of many, many others too long to count.
Orthodox ideals of loyalty, valour, sacrifice, love for the Fatherland and Church have strengthened our glorious ancestors over the course of a millennium in defending their native land in many wars and upheavals.
Externally, the adoption of Christianity helped the newly-converted people enter the family of Christian states, but in terms of changes within people, according to prominent Russian Historian Vasily Klyuchevsky, the truth of Christ drew individuals into their inner world and thus promoted the growth of national consciousness.
Prince Vladimir’s actions and his personality become particularly relevant in light of the events happening within and outside our nation. And although there are different independent states on the territory of Ancient Rus’ today, I believe their people desire to be united spiritually. For our lives are based on one faith, selected by the holy Prince Vladimir, the individual who formed the contours of the great Eurasian state on whose territory these independent countries exist today. We should be particularly aware of this in speaking about the spiritual unity of brotherly peoples beyond the baptismal font – the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
I would like to particularly congratulate those who carry the name of the holy prince, including our President. Today is your double name day – through your name and the name of your father.
Being named in honour of the Baptist of Rus’ is certainly an honour and a responsibility. I wish you, Mr Putin, and everyone celebrating their name day today, to always view your heavenly patron as a high, grand example. For his part, I believe St. Vladimir extends protection over all who bear his name and continues his work.
We all know that a good example is the best approach to teach anything. Subsequent generations cannot be successful if their predecessors do not leave them an example to follow. St. Vladimir played this role for us. Our people associate him with the memory of finding the truth, through which an entire civilisation was able to enjoy a rich spiritual experience.
Today, I am happy to welcome representatives from ancient Constantinople, from which the first bishops and clergy came to Rus’ and under whose umbrage the young Russian church developed for several centuries. It is with special warmth that I address words of welcome and gratitude to representatives of all brotherly local Orthodox churches that are joining us in today’s celebrations.
Against the background of the tragic events throughout the world, we are particularly aware of the need to strengthen Orthodox unity, solidarity and mutual aid. I once again sincerely congratulate everyone present on this significant church and state anniversary. Thank you, Mr Putin, for the opportunity to share this celebration with you, and may God’s blessing and the shroud of the Heavenly Queen reign over our fatherland through St. Vladimir’s prayers, over all the territory of Ancient Rus’ and over all who carry on the work of the holy Prince.
Thank you, Mr Putin.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, once again, I would like to congratulate His Holiness, Church representatives and all Orthodox Christians on this holiday. I would like to say special thanks to representatives of other traditional religions of Russia for being with us on this day. Nothing separates us, while much holds us together: the unity of our moral values and our Fatherland that we all hold so dear.