“The Christianization was the initial stage of the development of Russia's statehood, of the true spiritual birth of our ancestors, of the definition of their identity and self-awareness, of the explosion of the national culture and education, of the development of multi-faceted connections with other countries"
Putin's hard-hitting speech at the commemoration of the 1030 year anniversary of the baptism of ancient Rus reaffirms the country's commitment to Christian values:
Vladimir Putin: “The Christianization was the initial stage of the development of Russia's statehood, of the true spiritual birth of our ancestors, of the definition of their identity and self-awareness, of the explosion of the national culture and education, of the development of multi-faceted connections with other countries.
The Christianization of the Kievan Rus showed its people authentic moral and spiritual values. As Lev Gumilyov, a philosopher and mastermind once said, "Christianization granted our ancestors the freedom to choose between good and evil. The victory of Orthodox Christianity goes back centuries for Rus."
The nations that have accepted Christian values to their own were able to rise to eminence in politics, arts, literature, academia, and economy. They gained the valuable experience of unity which was repeatedly saving, supporting, and making them stronger during the toughest, most crucial points in the history of our country. This sublime spiritual heritage is timeless.
Our sacred duty is to preserve and to increase it for future generations.”
This Holy Day has united Orthodox Christians of the Kievan Rus and the entire world.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia: “Today, the Christianization Day is celebrated in Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, and other cities. Millions of people pray to the Equal-to-the-Apostles for the well-being and peace in the countries of the Kievan Rus. In this public prayer, all mutual resentments, arguments, and disunities are forgotten. This prayer strengthens the everlasting spiritual ties between our nations. These ties have nothing to do with ethnicity, cultural patterns, or altered state boundaries.”
Epic festivities took place all over the former Kievan Rus. They began with a service at Kiev's Saint Vladimir Hill, at the memorial of Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles.
“I wish you all a happy Holy Day anniversary. God bless you all.”
The procession in Kiev had a record participation. Despite the obstacles set up by the authorities and radicals, over 250,000 people participated in the event. Such an unprecedented number of participants has become a testament to the unity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and a response from Ukrainians to the attempts to establish the so-called autocephalous church.
“Autocephaly is a profound mistake. We don't need any autocephaly, we already have the faith that will save our souls.”
“The fact that our government is dissenting our church is a great disaster. It's a tragedy for our church.”
People came to Kiev from both Eastern and Western Ukraine despite the obstacles set up by the authorities and nationalists. In Zaporizhia Oblast, armed radicals had blocked the believers' buses. Another five buses with pilgrims were stopped by SSU agents. In Kiev, nationalists attempted a series of provocations during the event.
“Glory to Ukraine!”
However, the people's historic unity prevailed over any restrictions, pressure, or threats. The Divine Liturgy that was held on the Kremlin's Cathedral Square the next day was attended by believers from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and other countries.
Bogdan Bezpalko, President of "Russia's Ukrainians": “I hope all the dissents stop and all the believers that support the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church prevail.”
Sergey Kandybovich, "Russia's Belarusians": “Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine are Orthodox together.”
Patriarch Kirill: “Despite the dark historic course of events, our people have preserved their faith and their national identity. They have preserved their culture.”
The unity of the Kievan Rus nations is a reality that goes back centuries. All the Apostles of the churches among the world's Orthodox society agree.
Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa: “We pray for peace among the Ukrainian people because you're one nation, you emerged from one baptismal font that began Orthodoxy.”
Dissenters, Uniates, and nationalists were gathered by the Ukrainian authorities to hold their own alternative procession. Frankly, it looked rather sad.
—Did you come here yourself?
—Everything was set up by Dolbnya Sergey Leonidovich, the Head of the District State Administration. He helped us with the invitations and arranged our transportation. We're very grateful. Twenty of us from the Ivanivka District in Kherson Oblast came here.
This procession has left the followers of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church perplexed. They had shown their multi-million unity.
Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl: “The Holy Church has never been involved in politics, nor can it ever be.”
“This Holy Day unites all our Orthodox Christians: the Belarusians, the Ukrainians, the Moldovans, the Russians.”
“No politics will ever influence us, there's no way. We won't settle for any compromise.”
Amid such unanimous public spiritual impulse, President Poroshenko's words about the unrecognized independence of the Ukrainian Church came off quite far-fetched.
President Poroshenko: “We've long hoped for our own autocephalous church. Ukraine's Orthodox community is one of the largest in the world, it can't be joined to anything.”
Petr Poroshenko has even met with the Patriarchate of Constantinople delegation. By the way, the latter sent some not-so-important religious leaders. According to Poroshenko, he talked to them about establishing an autocephalous church in Ukraine. He then rushed to tell the press that the procedure of delivering autocephaly has allegedly been set in motion already.
Metropolitan Mitrophan of Lugansk and Alchevsk, Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate): “Some politicians want to use Church events, including Saint Vladimir's Holy Day, for their own political games.”
Archbishop Kliment of Nezhin and Pryluky, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate): “Today, many crooked politicians are trying foster division in the idea of the Church.”
The epic Friday Procession has ripped Poroshenko's wishful thinking to shreds, especially amid the alternative procession that barely gathered 30,000 people. While the Ukrainian government was busy creating virtual realities in their minds and in the minds of their allies, the followers of the real canonical multi-million Church of the Kievan Rus were praying in unison all over their canonical territory:
In Donbass, in Gorlovka, a few miles from the frontline. In Kishinev and Tiraspol. In Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, in all of the countries and cities that have Russian Orthodox Church parishioners.
Bishop Nektariy of Taldykorgan: “The Slavic community exists outside of state borders.”
In golden-domed Moscow, where pilgrims from all over the world have arrived, the church bells were still ringing, and people were still praying in memory of the great event of when the Kievan Rus adopted Orthodox Christianity.