saints: Boris & Gleb the Passionbearers


Also today, July 24th, we commemorate, Boris (Russian meaning “to fight”) and Gleb (Russian for Benjamin or son of the right hand) baptized Romanus and David, the pious sons of the holy Great Prince Vladimir (his name day was 10 day ago btw).

In 1015 they were slain at the command of their brother Svyatopolk: aint Boris, on July 24 on the Alta River, near Pereyaslavl, and Gleb, on September 5 on the bank of the Smyadinya River, near Smolensk Russia, about 400 KM/ 250 miles from Moskva. 

Although both had understood their brother’s designs against them, they refused to take up arms against him and bring civil war upon their land. Instead they embraced the commandment, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Gospel of St Matthew v:39)

.Metropolitan John I of Kiev (1008-1035) and his clergy solemnly met the incorrupt relics of the holy passion-bearer Gleb and placed them in the church where the relics of St Boris rested. Soon the burial place was glorified by miracles. Then the relics of the holy brothers Boris and Gleb were removed from the ground and placed in a specially constructed chapel. On July 24, 1026 a church of five cupolas built by Yaroslav the Wise was consecrated in honor of the holy martyrs.

In later years, the Vyshgorod Sts Boris and Gleb church containing the relics of the holy Passion-Bearers became the family church of the Yaroslavichi, their sanctuary of brotherly love and service to the nation. The symbol of their unity was the celebration of the Transfer of the Relics of Boris and Gleb, observed on May 2.

The history of the establishing of this Feast is bound up with the preceding events of Russian history. On May 2, 1069 the Great Prince Izyaslav, who had been expelled from the princedom for seven months (i.e. from September 1068) because of an uprising of the Kievan people, entered into Kiev. In gratitude for God’s help in establishing peace in the Russian land, the prince built a new church to replace an older structure.

Svyatoslav Yaroslavich, Prince of Kiev during 1073-1076, made an effort to transform the Sts Boris and Gleb temple into a stone church, but he was able to build the walls only eight cubits high. Later Vsevolod (+ 1093) finished the church construction, but it collapsed by night.

Apolytikion of Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb in the Second Tone

O Righteous Passion-bearers and true fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ, Chaste Boris and guileless Gleb, ye did not oppose the onslaughts of your enemy, your brother, who though killing your bodies was unable to touch your souls.

Let the evil lover of power mourn therefore, while ye rejoice with the angelic choirs; and as ye stand before the Holy Trinity, pray for the souls of them that honour your memory, that they may be pleasing to God: and by your intercessions, pray that all Orthodox people everywhere may be saved. Amen.