Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus – July 28, 2023

Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus is observed on July 28 in countries where the majority of the population espouses Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This day marks the millennium since the passing away of St. Duke Vladimir, the medieval ruler who brought Orthodox Christianity to Kievan Rus and baptized its people.

The day aims at celebrating the Christianizing of the Kievan Rus regions. On this day, people can attend church and or reflect on the history and changes made back in the year 988.

History of Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus

This celebration originally refers to the Christianization of Kievan Rus, conventionally set in the year 988 A.D., the date on which Vladimir the Great was baptized in Chersonesus and proceeded to baptize his family and people in Kyiv. Since the exact date of the first official massive Christianization is unknown and the Christianization took place in several stages across decades, the Church decided to institute this holiday on the Day of St. Vladimir, whose acts made Christianity a fundamental part of Russia’s identity.

According to a compilation of writings that are the principal source of the history of the eastern Slavs up to the early 20th century, also known as the Russian Primary Chronicle, Kyiv was Christian as early as the mid-10th century, although the ruling princes continued following pagan customs.

The compilation of writings describes the actions in the mid-10th century of the ruling prince of Kyiv, Princess Olga of Kyiv, who visited Constantinople with a priest Gregory. Although it is unclear when and where she was baptized, she became an Orthodox Christian and attempted to convert Svyatoslav, her son. However, until he died in 972 A.D., he remained a pagan. When Yaropolk I, his first son and successor, died in 980 A.D., his second son Vladimir ascended as the ruling prince.

Vladimir tried to lead a pagan reaction to Christianization efforts in vain before realizing he needed to embrace the new religion. The Christian name Basil was his baptism name. After that, he called the people of Kyiv to receive the baptism in the Dnieper River. Firstly, the 12 sons of Vladimir and many boyars were baptized. Then, all the residents of Kyiv were called to the river the next day, where the Orthodox priests completed the sacrament of baptism. The ceremony was observed throughout the realm of Vladimir in the following days, including the Grand Prince of Kyiv and Novgorod. These events went down in history as the iconic Baptism of Rus, by which Vladimir signaled the acceptance of Orthodox Christianity as his state religion.

Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus timeline

958 A.D.
Vladimir the Great Is Born

Vladimir is the natural youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kyiv by his housekeeper Malusha.

972
Vladimir´s Father Dies

After his father's death, Vladimir is forced to flee to Scandinavia after his brother Yaropolk murders his other brother Oleg of Drelinia to conquer Rus.

980
Vladimir Consolidates The Rus Realm

Rus is consolidated from modern-day Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine to the Baltic Sea.

988
Pagan Until Baptism

Kievan Rus is pagan until he is baptized.

Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus FAQs

What does the word Rus refer to?

Rus, also spelled ‘Ros,’ are ancient people who gave their name to the lands of Russia and Belarus.

Why was the Kievan Rus often called the Third Rome?

Moscow was called the “third Rome” because it became the center of this church.

What language did the Kievan Rus speak?

They spoke Old East Slavic, traditionally also Old Russian; Belarusian.

How to Observe Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus

  1. Go to the church

    On this day, all the churches of Moscow ring their bells at noon, playing the melody ‘Glory to Thee, O God!’ The hymn is sung in Russia and the patriarchal churches of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Kazakhstan Azerbaijan.

  2. Attend the Holy Liturgy in the Cathedral church

    On the very day of the holiday, Metropolitan Onuphry serves the Holy Liturgy on the square in front of the Dormition Cathedral church. You can take this day as an opportunity to go there and enjoy yourself.

  3. Pray

    Another way of celebrating this day is by praying. If you are a catholic, the best way in which you can celebrate this day is by talking with God.

5 Facts About Baptism

  1. The Baptism of Rus

    It refers to the seminal event of the mass baptism of the residents of Kyiv in 988 when Grand Prince Vladimir accepted Orthodox Christianity as the religion of his lands.

  2. Meaning of Baptism

    The forms and rituals of the different Christian churches vary, but baptism almost invariably involves the use of water and the Trinitarian invocation.

  3. Universal symbols of baptism

    The five symbols are the cross, a white garment, oil, water, and light.

  4. Immersion

    Ritual immersion has traditionally played an important part in Christianity, as a symbol of purification.

  5. Christian faith

    It is part of the Christian faith that to become a member of the family of God, a person has to be baptized.

Why Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus is Important

  1. Vladimir was important to Russia

    Vladimir's first goal was to recover his father's conquests, lost during the civil war, and add to the conquests of his own. The territory of the Viatichi and Radimichi was regained by him.

  2. He made Christianity the official religion of his state

    After he was baptized, he ordered and forced his subjects to accept baptism too. He also ordered that pagan idols be destroyed and built Christian churches and schools and libraries

  3. Celebrating this day is important to Christians

    This day is an opportunity for Christians to stay together and pray. It is a day to show the love for God and Christianity.

Baptism Day of Kyivan Rus dates

YearDateDay
2023July 28Friday
2024July 28Sunday
2025July 28Monday
2026July 28Tuesday
2027July 28Wednesday

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