Not long after the period of the Ecumenical Councils, the
Western part of the Church fell away from the Ecumenical Orthodox Church and
formed what eventually has become known as the Roman Catholic Church.
This is how it happened. After the Apostles
installed their successors to guide the Church, the bishops, who had an equal
degree of priesthood, had different powers. Bishops of the smaller cities were
subordinated to the bishops of the larger cities, who were called metropolitans.
The metropolitans in turn were subordinated to the bishops in the capital
cities, who were called patriarchs. The highest power in the Church
belonged to councils to which even the patriarchs were subordinated.
In ancient times, there were five patriarchs: the
patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The Patriarch of Rome came to be known as a pope. For a
long time other bishops were also thus named. The word "pope" means
All five patriarchs had equal rights and did not
claim authority outside their own patriarchate. None of them was higher or
lower than another; and only in honour; the Roman patriarch did come first
because of the prominent position of Rome as the capital of the empire. Over the course of time, however, the
Roman pope expanding his realm began to strengthen in power and sought to
subordinate all the other patriarchs to himself, so
that the pope might become the sole head of the Christian Church. Such a claim
by the Roman pope was recognized to be un-canonical. This along with the change
in the Creed was a chief cause of the separation of the Western church from
Subsequently, the Protestant confessions separated
from the Roman Catholic church. At about the time of
the fall of the Roman Church, the Ecumenical Orthodox Church was enlarged by
the entrance of the Slavic people, who were converted to Christianity.
The first missionaries to the Slavs were Sts. Cyril
and Methodius, the brothers, who selflessly laboured to spread the
Christian faith among the Slavs. They composed the Slavonic alphabet and
translated the Holy Scriptures and service books into the Slavic language.
After their death, Christianity became firmly
established among the Bulgarians and Serbians; and later, all the Russian
people were baptized into the Christian faith.
The Baptism of Russia.
The land of Russia became a Christian country almost a thousand years after
the appearance of our Saviour in the world. Before that time, people in the
Russian land worshipped idols and were pagans. The main idols were the sun god
and the god of thunder and lightning, Perun. Besides these, there were many
lesser gods to protect the household, the courtyard, water, woods, and etc. In
the lives of these pagans, there were many superstitious, false beliefs, savage
customs, and even human sacrifice to idols.
According to tradition, the holy Apostle Andrew
the First-called preached the Gospel in Scythia,
in the land which later became Russia. Having climbed the Kievan Mountains, he placed a wooden cross there and prophesied that in
this land the true faith of Christ would shine.
The holy Apostle Andrew missioned the future land of Russia from the south to the north, from the Kievan Mountains to Novgorod, and was even on the island
of Valaam. The latest historical evidence testifies to this. Local
northern Russian tradition shows that the Apostle Andrew the First-called,
enlightener of the Scythians and the Slavs, came from Kiev to Novgorod. From there, he travelled along the Volga River to Lake Ladoga and then — to Valaam where he blessed the mountain with a
stone cross. He destroyed the temples of Veles and Perun and converted to
the Christian faith the priests of the idols and the pagan inhabitants of the
island laying at Valaam the foundation for confession of faith in Christ.
Several of his disciples who had accompanied him remained as pastors for the
newly gathered flock of Christ.
In the ancient manuscript "Opoved" kept
in the library of the Valaam monastery, mention of this is made: "St.
Andrew of Jerusalem came to Goliad, Kosoch, Roden, Scythe, Scythia, and
Slavonia via contiguous meadows (steppes), reached Smolensk and the home guard
at Scothe of the Great Slaviansky. Leaving Ladoga, he went by boat over the
stormy, turbulent lake to Valaam placing stone crosses and blessing everywhere
with the sign of the Cross. His disciples, Silus, Phirsus, Elisha, Lukoslav,
Joseph, and Cosmas, set missions everywhere and all the rulers came from
Slovensk and Smolensk. Many pagan priests were baptized, and the temples of
Perun and Veles were destroyed and obliterated."
Another ancient document, "Vseletnik"
(All the Years) of the Kievan Metropolitan Hilarion, 1051 A.D., affirms the
travels of St. Andrew the Apostle on Valaam.
In the "Vseletnik," it is written,
"November 30th. St. Andrew the All-praised, First-called Apostle and
Standard-bearer of the Church we extol; and for of old, he came to Kiev,
Smolensk, Novgorod, Dpyzino and Valaam."
Evidence supports that which the oral and written
tradition of Valaam affirms, that the Orthodox Christian faith was established
on Valaam by St. Andrew the Apostle. Whether Christianity continued on Valaam
without interruption until the time of the founding of a monastery is
impossible to determine positively.
Evidence from the ancient manuscript "Opoved"
suggested that on Valaam after the Apostle Andrew, there existed a continual
governmental organization with its vetche (popular assembly in ancient
Russia) as it was in Novgorod. Valaam was known in foreign lands; and in times
of danger, people sought safety there. A stone cross of St. Andrew the Apostle
was kept there until the time of St. Sergius of Valaam, which indicated the
existence of Christianity. Before the founding of a monastery on it, Valaam
belonged to the Slavs and probably existed in civic unity with Novgorod. On
Valaam, traces of the Orthodox Christian faith remained until the time of St.
Sergius although paganism continued along side Christianity.
The first of the Russian princes to be baptized,
according to tradition, were the Kievan princes Ashold and Dir in 867 A.D.
Almost a hundred years after them, the wise Russian princess Olga
noticing the chaste lives of Kievan Christians was influenced by the truth of
their faith and accepted holy baptism in 957 A.D. She travelled to
Constantinople with a large retinue, was baptized by the Patriarch himself, and
took the name Helena. Returning home, she tried to persuade her son Svyatoslav
to convert to Christianity, but he being by nature a rigorous military man did
God provided Christian enlightenment to the
Russian land through Prince Vladimir, grandson of Olga. At first,
Vladimir was a zealous pagan and led an unchaste life. In his presence, two
Christians, Theodore and John (father and son), were sacrificed to idols
becoming the first martyrs of Russia. Vladimir soon sensed the total emptiness
of paganism and began to think about another, better faith.
When it became known that a Russian prince was
seeking another faith, representatives of various religions began to come to
him: Mohammedans, Jews, German Catholics, and Greek Orthodox. The Greek
Orthodox representative made the deepest impression on Vladimir. In concluding
his conversation, he showed Vladimir a picture of the Last Judgement.
Vladimir said, "It would be good to be with
the righteous that are on the right side."
"Be baptized, and you will be with
them," answered the representative.
Prince Vladimir consulted with his boyars, members
of the Russian aristocratic order, who advised him to send ten wise envoys to
the various countries to discover which faith was the best.
The envoys visited the countries from which the
representatives had come. Returning to Kiev, they told the prince everything
they had seen, and they praised the Greek Orthodox faith. They said that there
was neither faith better than the Greeks’ nor such
people as they. "When we stood during the service in the Greek Church, we
were not sure whether we were on earth or in heaven," they said. And then
it came to be that having tasted sweetness, they no longer wanted the bitter.
Having found the Greek Orthodox faith, they no longer wanted to worship their
The boyars remarked to Vladimir about this,
"If the Greek Orthodox faith was not better than the others, then your
grandmother, Princess Olga, would not have converted to it, for she was the
wisest of people."
Then, Prince Vladimir finally decided to accept
the Orthodox faith. But as a pagan, he considered it would be humiliating to
ask the Greeks about it. So, about a year later, he sent a military expedition
against Greece and took the city of Korsun. The city of Korsun or Cherson was
located in the Crimea, at that time — part of the Greek empire. He then demanded
of the Greek Emperors Basil and Constantine, co-rulers at the time, that they
hand over to him their sister Anna. The Emperors answered that they could not
give their sister to a pagan. Then, Vladimir explained to them his desire to
convert to the Christian faith and asked them to send Princess Anna and also a
priest to baptize him. The Emperors immediately sent a priest to Korsun
accompanied by the Princess Anna. It happened at that time that Vladimir’s eyes
began to fail so badly that he became blind. Princess Anna advised Vladimir to
be baptized immediately. Vladimir took the advice of the princess and was
baptized taking the name Basil. No sooner, had he been baptized and emerged
from the font than the scales fell from his eyes, and he was able to see.
Vladimir recovered physically and spiritually and in joy exclaimed, "Now I
have found the true God!"
Prince Vladimir married Princess Anna and returned
to Kiev. A contingent from Greece came with him consisting of a metropolitan,
six bishops, many priests, and everything they needed for the services of the
Church. This was in the year 988 A.D.
First, Vladimir suggested to his twelve sons that
they be baptized, and they were. After them, many boyars were baptized.
Finally, Vladimir ordered all the inhabitants of Kiev to come on a designated
day to the Dnieper River; and there in the presence of the prince, the
spiritual mystery of Holy Baptism was performed. Prince Vladimir joyously
directed his gaze to Heaven, prayed to God that the Lord Who had made Heaven
and earth would bless the Russian people, grant them to know Him, the true God,
and would strengthen the true faith in the Russian people. On this great day,
Heaven and earth rejoiced.
Having converted to Christianity, Vladimir changed
in every way. From a coarse and savage pagan, he became a pious and merciful
Christian. He ordered all the poor people to come to his royal court and
receive there everything they needed: food, clothing, and even money.
Furthermore, carts were loaded with bread, meat, fish, vegetables, honey, and
kvass and sent around to the cities and villages for all the sick and needy who
were unable to come.
The people loved their Grand Prince and
nicknamed him "Beautiful Sun;" and as to the sun, the people turned
to him and with him walked toward God.
The Holy Church numbers Grand Prince Vladimir and
Princess Olga among its saints. Prince Vladimir received the title of Equal-of-the-Apostles
for his apostolic zeal.
With the help of God, Orthodox Christianity soon
spread from Kiev and flourished throughout the Russian land. The Russian people
embraced the Orthodox faith with all their soul and were spiritually
enlightened by it. All the arts, schools, monasteries, literature, the whole of
Russian culture, spiritual as well as secular, was inspired by Orthodoxy. The
light of Christ shone over the country, and it became known forever as Holy
Russia, and the people, "The Russian Orthodox people."
in the Translation of Part III.
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Apostolicity in Byzantium and the Legend of the Apostle Andrew.
Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1958. S.U.: D.F.
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Toney, Charles Ca. "The Name Tscariot’,"
Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 36,1943, pp. 51-62.
Throckmorton, B.H. Jr., Gospel Parallels, a Synopsis
of the First Three Gospels (RSV), N.Y. Thomas Nelson and Sons, c 1949. Second
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Aharoni, Yohanan and Michael
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