On Tuesday, August 6, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates the saints and martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb.
Boris and Gleb were the first saints to be canonized in Rus in 1071. Behind this terse historical date stands the tragedy of a fratricidal war.
Boris and Gleb were the sons of Prince Vladimir, equal to the Apostles. The Kievan Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich became known by having converted Rus to Christianity. After his death in 1015 an internecine war broke out: Vladimir's sons -- there were 12 of them from different wives -- were unable to share power. According to the law, the throne was to have gone over to Boris, but he did not claim it from Svyatopolk, whom people called Okayanny (he was Vladimir's stepson) and who had seized power. Boris even sent an envoy to Svyatopolk with a request that sounded strange in the context of the division of power: "You be my father, you be my elder brother!" it said. Instead of a reply, the "older brother" sent murderers to Boris.
Before long Gleb, too, was killed by people sent by the very same Svyatopolk. In 1019, four years after Gleb's death, his remains were discovered and brought to Kiev, where Boris's body was kept. The martyr-brothers began to be glorified after people began to be miraculously healed near their relics. The attempt of the martyrs to stop the fratricidal war at the cost of their own lives is a kind of repetition of Christ's cruxifiction. Sacrificing themselves to peace, the brothers carried out the Evangelical law.
In ancient Rus Boris and Gleb were the most highly revered saints, in particular, by soldiers, for they appeared to them on the eve of decisive battles. They were also considered as patron saints of farmers. Churches dedicated to Boris and Gleb were built throughout Rus. The first Russian saints were revered in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Armenia and even in Byzantium.
The undecayed remains of Boris and Gleb were discovered in 1019, and on May 15, 1072 transferred to a church specially built by Grand Prince of Kiev Izyaslav. On that day - May 15 -- Boris and Gleb are once more commemorated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
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