Russian history 10: Christianity in Russia before Vladimir

Insufficiently strong and deep paganist beliefs of Slavs easily mixed and gave way to external religious influences. If Slavs eagerly resorted to Finnish sorcerers and shamans, Christianity affected their minds even stronger. Trade links with Greece provided facilitated the familiarization with the new religion. Varangian merchants and warriors, who visited Constantinople earlier and more often than Slavs, were the first to bring Christianity to Rus. During the rule of knyaz Igor, there was already a church of St. Iliya (Elijah) in Kiev and the chroniclers noted that "many Varangians were Christians." Igor's wife, Olga, was Christian, too. On the other hand, Svyatoslav did not welcome the new religion, and in the times of his son, Vladimir, pagan idols were still standing in Kiev and sometimes even human sacrifices were committed. According to chronicles, in 983, the pagan crowd killed two Varangians, father and son, because the father refused to sacrifice his son. In spite of such persecutions, Kievans knew Christianity and Knyaz Vladimir accepted the new religion consciously, being familiar with its advantages.

No comments: