The Holy Equal to the Apostles Volodymyr (Vladimir)
The Holy Equal to the Apostles Volodymyr (Vladimir) - July 15
Holy Prince Vladimir, you were like a merchant in search
of fine pearls. By sending
to Constantinople for the Orthodox Faith, you found Christ, the
priceless pearl. He appointed you to be another Paul, washing away in
baptism your physical and spiritual blindness. We celebrate your memory,
asking you to pray for all Orthodox Christians and for us, your
Troparion in Tone 4
In his early life St. Vladimir was a devout pagan. He was a great conqueror who had many wives and erected many pagan statues in the lands that he ruled over. Upon finding out that other faiths existed beyond his own paganism, he decided to send his envoys out into the world to find out what was the true faith on earth.
His envoys met with Muslims, but felt that there was no joy among them, and that their faith was very mechanical. The envoys also met with Jews and Latin Catholics, but were still unimpressed.
Everything changed, however, when the envoys arrived in Constantinople. Upon attending Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia, the envoys said, “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth.”
Taking the word of his envoys, St. Vladimir had himself baptized in Cherson and his nation baptized in the river Dnipro by missionary fathers from Constantinople. Being newly illumined St. Vladimir changed completely after his baptism. His spiritual ascension was marked with a miracle like God’s calling of Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus – the Prince of Kyiv physically and spiritually recovered his sight: through encouragement by his blessed fiancée, a Byzantine Princess Anna, he regained his physical sight and gained spiritual insight in the baptismal font. Following his baptism he destroyed all the pagan statues that stood in Kyivan Rus', and replaced them with Churches. He also attempted to live in peace as much as possible with his neighbors and had only one wife.
People called Vladimir “the Beautiful Sun” for his generosity to poor people, for providing clothing and food to cripples and needy persons. He required teaching children the Law of God, built schools and organized orphanages. He departed on July 15th, 1015, and was buried next to his mother Saint Olha’s incorruptible relics. Two of his sons – Boris and Hlib – were later glorified/canonized as Saint Blessed Princes-Martyrs.
“My Lord, my God! I lived without knowing You, but You had mercy on me and enlightened me with Thy Holy Baptism – and I beheld You, God for everybody, Creator of all things animate and inanimate, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”, – these words of Saint Vladimir’s prayer sound as a voice of every Christian soul that went through the crucible of temptations.