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On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

The memory of the common baptismal font unites the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

The annual remembrance of the great event of the Baptism of Rus in the Russian Church periodically returns to the comprehension of that civilizational choice, which largely determined the historical fate of the Russian land.

The memory of the common baptismal font unites the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Not surprising, that the newfangled "concepts of national history", serving the political environment, are trying to destroy the memory of the historical unity of the Eastern Slavs and replace it with a history of tribal enmity. In this vein, ideas are expressed about, that there was no "common font", and the Orthodoxy of each "tribe" had some kind of. "Own" in the sense, that it came to its own (read - independent) by. So, articles circulate in the Belarusian media space, the main idea of ​​which is loud and simple: "Prince Vladimir has nothing to do with the baptism of Belarusians".

The reasoning comes down to the following: Christian faith came to the territory of modern Belarus earlier, than Vladimir baptized Russia. Already the Polotsk prince Rogvolod could have been a Christian. And the prince of Turov Tour. Who baptized them? - Sure, Varangians-Scandinavians, who, on their way back from Byzantium, sailed along the Western Dvina and along Pripyat. for example, Saint Thorvald, who, according to the legend of the Icelandic sagas, founded the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Polotsk and was buried there. (The supporters of St. Thorvald the "Baptist" are unaware, that he was a contemporary of Prince Vladimir and died at the very beginning of the 11th century., why couldn't he preach in Polotsk before the Baptism of Rus). Hierarchical ties were needed to set up the "Polotsk" or "Turov" "Church" (a bishop is ordained by several other bishops, headed by a metropolitan or patriarch). For this, Polotsk allegedly did not need Kiev. The hierarchy could be directly obtained from Constantinople. And if not from there, So, eg, from Bulgaria, where there was a "national church" headed by the patriarch. Not by chance, breakwater, Balkan motives can be traced in the architecture of Polotsk churches, and the Russian chronicles report about the bishops in Polotsk and Turov a hundred years after Vladimir the Baptist (breakwater, a clear hint of "independence").

Generally, guess nests on guess, and in the end, confidence, that everything was something like this. Let it go, breakwater, The “official Church” in Belarus marks the date of its foundation in 992 city, everything was different for "us". But here stop: and you, supporters of "modern history", what date do you suggest? The answer will be: we do not know for sure, there may be several options. And that's it. Because there is nothing to offer. The palette of opinions is as follows, that the conversion to the Christian faith of the inhabitants of Western Russia is generally denied (Chronicle Krivichi, dregovichej and radimichej). They, breakwater, generally remained pagans for centuries, and only princes were Christians, and even then only outside. comes, that there was no real baptism, and there is nothing to celebrate ...

However, it was. And this event is truly turning. It is no coincidence that Kirill, the bishop of Turov, famous throughout Russia (XII v.) I wrote: “Now winter ... the pagan idolatry of the apostolic teaching and the faith of Christ has stopped ... Now the spring flaunts ... - the faith of Christ, which permeates human nature through baptism ".

Prince Vladimir the Baptist has the same relation to the baptism of the inhabitants of Polotsk and Turov, as well as the baptism of the entire Russian land. Less than half a century after his death, the Russian writer Jacob Mnikh testified, that Vladimir "Baptized the entire Russian land from end to end". Of course, the Kiev prince did not necessarily personally visit all the cities and villages for this. He entrusted the mission of baptism to his sons, distributing Russian cities to them. Gustynskaya Chronicle (Beg. XVII в.) complements the Tale of Bygone Years with words “And the priests also sent with them, commanding his sons, so that everyone in his entire area should command to teach and baptize people, and put churches ". Vladimir sent Izyaslav to Polotsk, and in Turov - Svyatopolka. It is no coincidence that in the line of the Izyaslavich princes of Polotsk, one of the generic names is the baptismal name of Prince Vladimir - Vasily (Cornflower).

On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

Old Russian pectoral crosses

Princes traveled around their areas with priests, who first taught the people, and then baptized. Wooden churches began to be built in cities and villages. Nikon Chronicle (XVI в.) informs about the disposition of the Polotsk prince Izyaslav: “But this prince was quiet and meek, and humble, and merciful, loving and honoring the priestly office and monastic, diligent in reading divine scriptures, turning away from vain thoughts, and spleen, and affectionate, and patient ". Such moral qualities, certainly, the most effective way was to dispose of the inhabitants of the Polotsk land for baptism. The cross - this sign of conversion to the Christian faith - is clearly visible on the seal of Prince Izyaslav found by archaeologists.

On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

Seal of Prince Izyaslav Vladimirovich

In connection with the spread of the Christian faith in Western Russia, it is necessary to mention the fate of Izyaslav's mother., Polotsk princess Rogneda. According to the Tver Chronicle (XVI в.), Vladimir, after his baptism and marriage to the Greek princess Anna, invited Rogneda to marry one of his "nobles", but she chose the monastic tonsure with the name of Anastasia: “I don’t want to be a slave to a prince, not to the king, but the bride of Christ ". This news, although plausible in itself, is based, probably, on some legend. Another legend, entered in the Laurentian Chronicle under 1128 city, reports, that Vladimir, after Rogneda's refusal, sent her and her son to the Polotsk land, where he founded the city of Izyaslavl for them (Заславль). Was the Rognedy monastery here and did she live here with her son Izyaslav?, hard to say unequivocally, since the conditions of that time required, so that the prince was in the main city of his land, that is, in Polotsk.

A change in funeral custom indicates significant changes in religious beliefs. The adoption of the Christian faith led to the abandonment of the pagan practice of burning the dead (cremations) in favor of burial in the ground (incumations). At the same time, the burial did not immediately begin to be done in a dug grave., but for some time they continued to build a small spherical mound, ie. followed a pagan tradition. The study of the change in the funeral rite conducted by archaeologists opens the process of a wide and rapid spread of the Christian faith among the Russian Slavs., including on the territory of modern Belarus. Here the first burials with inhumation begin to appear in the 10th century., and in the XI century. they are already decisively prevailing. In XII v. the dead are buried in pits (graves), and in the next century, spherical mounds from above ceased to pour. This trend is observed not only in cities, but also in the countryside.

On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

Monument to Prince Izyaslav in Zaslavl

Under Vladimir, the first diocesan centers were also established in Polotsk and Turov.. It is the bishops in their areas who would consecrate new churches and ordain priests for them.. Therefore, it is quite natural, that the bishops were entrusted to the care of Izyaslav and Svyatopolk. Nikon Chronicle (XVI в.) reports, what in 992 g. the second Russian Metropolitan Leontes appointed a bishop to Novgorod, put bishops in Chernigov, Rostov, Vladimir (Volynsky) and Belgorod. At the same time, the chronicler adds, that the metropolitan "And put bishops in many other cities". Among these unnamed cities was Polotsk. the, that the Polotsk diocese was formed among the first under Vladimir the Baptist, indirectly confirmed by information from the ancient Life of St. Leonty of Rostov, where the author talks about the beginning of the Rostov diocese. In his story, the establishment of the Polotsk Department follows immediately after the Novgorod. In this way, the probable year of foundation of the diocese in Polotsk is 992 year.

Under Prince Vladimir, a diocese was established in Turov. In one of the later editions of the Paterikon of the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery, the text of the letter of Prince Vladimir the Baptist on the establishment of a diocese in Turov has been preserved, which dates back to the XIV century. Here, the year of foundation of the department in Turov is designated 1005 year.

On the baptism of the inhabitants of Western Russia

Feast of the Baptism of Rus

Although the named years of the establishment of the bishop's chairs in Polotsk and Turov are of a presumptive nature (based on later evidence), it is safe to say, that the Polotsk and Turov dioceses were among the very first dioceses of the Russian Church.

So the day of the Baptism of Rus is a holiday for the Orthodox Church in sovereign Belarus. And Prince Vladimir should rightly be honored as the founder of the first Orthodox dioceses of the Belarusian Orthodox Church..

Priest Alexy KHOTEEV

A source