Today Ukraine remembers St Volodymyr the Great and marks Baptism of Rus
The day of remembrance of the Holy and equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv is marked on July 28. He was the grandson of the Holy Princess Olha, whose day of memory is celebrated on July 24. Prince Volodymyr has not only converted to Christianityhimself, but also contributed to the fact that Christianity became the state religion of Kyivan Rus. In this regard, July 28 is a national holiday in Ukraine –the Day of Baptism of Kyivan Rus.
The future prince was born in 962 or 963 years in Volyn. His tenure in Kyiv lasted 35 years - from 980 to 1015.
There are many versions regarding the time and place of the Prince’s baptism. The chroniclesindicate the year of 988. As for the place, it is disputed whether it was in Chersonese or in Kyiv.
After his baptism Volodymyr ordered that the people of Kyiv baptized and pagan idols were thrown into the Dnieper. While the baptism of Kyiv proceeded more or less without violence, in other principalities, as the chronicle notices, the Prince’s governors baptized with fire and sword.
By order of the Prince many churches were built, including the Church of the Tithes in Kyiv.
However, Christianity dawned on Ukrainian lands long before Volodymyr's baptism. The spread of Christianity in the Ukrainian lands date back to the first century, linking it with the legendary staying of St. Andrewin Ukraine; his stay on mission in Crimea is generally not questioned by historians.
There are some clearer historical data on the first Christian martyrs in Crimea, among the others, here one of the first Roman Pontiffs, Pope Clement IV was martyred,later his head was found by St. Cyril and Methodius.
Various sources attest to the baptism of Kyivan Prince Askold in 860,during his military campaign to Constantinople. There is a hypothesis that the prince tried to baptize Kyiv as well, and even brought the bishops to set up the churchinstitutions. However, in 882 he was killed and the religious reform failed due to strong opposition of pagans.
But the Christian community in Kyiv remained, as evidenced by the agreement of Rus with Constantinople, signed by Prince Ihor in 941.
And new rise of Christianity in Russia began during the tenure of the Holy Princess Olha, which is also recognized as equal to the Apostles.
In contrast, Christianity was spreadingin western lands in the ninth and tenth centuries from Moravia, where the Church was established by Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Equal-to-the-Apostles.
Therefore, the baptism of Rus by Prince Volodymyr was a continuation of the lengthy process of Christianization of Kyivan Rus.
The official state holiday of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus was established on July 28in accordance with the decree of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in 2008. It should be added that July 28 is the anniversary of Prince Volodymyr’s death, and the baptism was most likely to be held on August 14 (new style).