Дорога домой. Выпуск ДД-14.2а  [04окт06]
История Русской Церкви.
Краткие обзоры

2 -- BEFORE KIEV PERIOD (862-1240)

Christianity made its way into Russian territory even before the Christening of Russia.
Ccontents: (2.1) Review of the pre-Kievan period (up to 862); (2.2) Holy brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius); (2.3) Christianity in Russia before St. Count Vladimir.

2.1 Review of the pre-Kievan period (up to 862). Very little is known about the times of the pre-Kievan period (up to 862). As no writing system had yet been developed there are very few documents about this period. It is known that the holy Apostle Andrew said sermons on the mountains of Kiev and that he even raised a cross in the area. It is also known that other Greek missionaries also reached these places. Saints Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) first preached to the Khazars (858), and then to the Slavs in Bulgaria and Moravia (862-885).

2.2 Holy brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius). Holy brothers Cyril (Constantine before tonsured as a monk) (+869) and Mefody (Methodius) (+885) were enlighteners of the Slavs. Starting with Greek alphabet, they created Slavic alphabet (Cyrillic), translated the Holy Gospel and prayer books into the Slavic language and preached among the Slavs.
    Thus, today, church prayer books of all Orthodox Slavic people (Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Macedonians) are written in this Slavic language which is now referred to as Church-Slavonic. Our present Russian alphabet is referred to as the grazhdansky (civil) font; it is the Church-Slavonic alphabet simplified by Emperor Peter the Great (1682-1725). Orthodox Slavic people named above use this alphabet. Besides the general (common) letters which all these people have, each nationality has unique letters that others do not.

Holy brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) were Greek. They were born in the city of Solun (Thessaloniki in Greek) which is now referred to as Saloniki. The city of Solun was the capital of the Macedonian area which was a part of the Byzantine Empire. Macedonia was populated by Slavs. The city of Solun was near sacred mountain Athos.

The brothers grew up among the Slavs and consequently knew well the Slavic language. The brothers' father occupied a high position in Soluni. The parents gave the children a fine education, at first in Soluni, and then in Constantinople. The older brother, Mefody (Methodius), received the post as chief of the area in Macedonia. Mefody (Methodius) was a kind and fair governor, but with his whole soul he aspired to a monastic life. He leaves the post as chief of the area and goes to the monastery on mount Olympus. The younger brother, Cyril, also received a good education, but subsequently leaves to the same monastery where was his brother Mefody (Methodius).

Brothers have grown among Slavs and consequently well knew slavic language. The father of brothers borrowed(occupied) high position in Soluni. Parents have educated children fine formation(education), at first in Soluni, and then in TSaregrade. Senior brother Mefody has received a post of the chief of area in Macedonia. Mefody was the kind and fair governor, but it(he) all soul aspired to a monastic life. It(he) leaves a post of the chief of area and the Olympus leaves in a monastery on mountain. Younger brother Cyril, too has received good formation(education), but subsequently leaves in the same monastery where there was its(his) brother Mefody.

In 858 by request of the Khazar kagan (tsar), the patriarch of Constantinople sent the brothers to preach Christianity to the Khazars. The Khazars were a pagan people who lived along the lower reaches of the Don and Volga rivers up to the river Dnepr. On the road to the Khazars the brothers crossed the Black Sea, landed in present-day Crimea and went on to the city of Khersones (Kherson) which then belonged to the Greeks. There they got the relics of hieromartyr (a martyr who was also a priest or bishop) Clement, bishop of Rome, and set off to the land of the Khazars. The brothers successfully completed their mission with the Khazars, many of whom converted to Christianity, and after that the brothers returned to Constantinople.

In 862 at the by request of the Moravian princes Rostislav and Svyatopolk, the patriarch of Constantinople sent the brothers to preach Christianity among the Moravian people in their native slavic language. The Moravian people were Slavs and already baptized, but did not understand the Christian sermon as it was conducted in the Latin and Greek languages.

Before their departure to Moravia, saints Constantine and Mefody (Methodius) prayed and fasted for forty days. Strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit they composed the Slavic alphabet. After that they translated the sacred books from Greek into the Slavic language. The first translation was the Gospel of the holy Apostle John, and the first words were: «In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God». (John 1:1 NKJV).

On the road to Moravia, saints Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) passed through the lands of the Bulgarian Count Boris. The holy brothers convinced the count to convert to Christianity. The sacred books which were translated into the Slavic language, helped to spread Christianity in this country.
    In Moravia the brothers were met with great enthusiasm. There they stayed for four years and their preaching met with enormous success. They taught the Slavs in their native language, and also taught them the new alphabet.

The Latin and German missionaries envied the success of the brothers' preaching. They said that divine services could be held only in the Latin, Greek and Jewish languages as these were the languages in the inscription on Jesus Christ's cross. They served in Latin which the Slavs did not understand and consequently were not successful.
    The western missioanries complained to the Pope of Rome (Nicholas the first) that the brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) were preaching heresy. The pope called the brothers to Rome, but died before their arrival. The new pope (Adrian the second) met the brothers with pomp, as they were bringing the moshchi (relics) of the martyr Clement, Pope of Rome. The pope familiarized himself with the sacred books in the slavic language and found nothing heretical. He even ordered that some churches in Rome serve the Liturgy in the slavic language.
    Saint Constantine was very exhausted by the road trip, began to ail and started to prepare himself for death. Fifty days before his death, he was tonsured a monk with the name Cyril and on February, 14th in 869 he died in Rome. His relics are in the church of St. Clement in Rome.

After the death of his brother, Mefody (Methodius) returned to Moravia where he continued to preach Christianity.

Latin priests continued to envy the preaching among the Slavs and, consequently, tried to interfere with it in every possible way. St. Mefody (Methodius) was exposed to persecution, banishment and even imprisonment.

Saint Mefody (Methodius), feeling that he soon would depart to the Lord, hurried to translate all the Holy Writings (Bible) from Greek to Slavic and in the year 864 his work was finished.
    Saint Mefody (Methodius) foretold his approaching death and on April, 6th in 885 he died. He was solemnly buried in the Great Moravian church in Old Velegrade, on the river Morava.

From Bohemia the Christianity, preached by the holy brothers, made its way into Poland. After the death of the brothers, their pupils Clement, Savva and Naum converted the Serbian Slavs to Christianity.
    Thus the holy brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) preached to the Khazars, in Bulgaria and in Moravia, and their pupils in Serbia. By their efforts the Byzantine (Greek) orthodox faith was spread among the eastern Slavs.

The holy brothers Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) are especially honored by the Orthodox Slavs who use their alphabet: Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Macedonians. The divine services for all these people are held in the Church-Slavonic language using the same books.

The memory of the ravnoapostolnykh (equal to the apostles) Cyril and Mefody (Methodius) is observed on May, 11/24th.

2.3 Christianity in Russia before St. Count Vladimir. Up until the time of St. Count Vladimir (980-1015) Christianity gradually, in various ways, found its way onto Russian territory. For example:

  1. In 862 the Novgorod Slavs called on Riurik (862-879), from the varyazhskogo (Viking) tribe called Rus' to rule over them. Two of his allies Askold and Dir, became rulers of Kiev. In 866 they raided Constantinople. The emperor and the patriarch turned to God in prayer and after a nightlong Divine Service, they set out on a religious procession to the seacoast and immersed the vestment of Bozhiei Materi (Mother of God) in the water. The sea, quiet until then, suddenly became stormy and broke up the Rus' vessels. Many of them died; those that came back home, were under a great impression of the anger of God which had struck them.
  2. Soon after a Greek bishop arrived in Kiev and began to preach Christianity. The Rus' began to accept baptism, and quite possibly knyazya (counts) were also baptized. A church in the name of saint Nicholas was constructed over the tomb of one of them. It forces to assume that he was a Christian.
  3. During the time of Count Oleg (879-912) there was a special Russian diocese which was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
  4. During the time of Count Igor (912-945), Russians were already divided into two groups: baptized and unbaptized. This is apparent because, at the time of the agreement with the Greeks (946), those baptized approved the agreement with an oath in the church of St. Prophet Elijah (Ильи) in Kiev.
  5. Great Countess Olga (945-957), became acquainted and grew fond of Christianity under the influence of conversations with Kievan priests. With her bright mind she understood the superiority of Christianity over other beliefs and decided to accept baptism. The ancient tradition states that for the christening she went to Constantinople and that in the christening (957) was named Yelena (Helen).
    The memory of St. Ravnoapostolnoi (Equal to the apostles) Great Princess Olga is observed on July, 11/24th.
  6. Count Svyatoslav (957-972), saint Olga's son, under the influence of his mother, did not forbid his people to be baptized. He was not baptized as he did not want his troops and other princes to laugh at him.

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