The Day of Remembrance of the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv is marked on 28 July. He was the grandson of the Holy Princess Olha, who is remembered on 24 July.
Prince Vladimir did not only convert to Christianity himself, but also contributed to the fact that Christianity became the state religion of Kyivan Rus. Therefore, July 28 is a Ukrainian national holiday – the Day of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus.
The future Prince was born in 962 or 963 in Volyn. The period of his reign in Kyiv lasted for 35 years – from 980 to 1015.
There are many versions about the time and place of the baptism of Prince Volodymyr. The Chronicle indicates 988. As for the place, the biggest controversy exists either in Kherson, or in Kyiv. After his baptism, Volodymyr ordered the people of Kyiv to get baptized and to throw pagan idols into the Dnieper. If the baptism of Kyiv was performed more or less without violence, in other principalities, according to the chronicle, the princes’ governors baptized people with sword and fire.
On the Prince’s order numerous churches were built, including the Church of the Tithes in Kyiv.
But Christianity dawned on Ukrainian lands long before Volodymyr’s baptism. The spread of Christianity in the Ukrainian lands dates back to the first century, linked with legendary travel to the Kyivan hills of St. Andrew the First-Called; his stay with the mission in Crimea is generally not questioned by historians. There are clearer historical data on the first Christian martyrs in Crimea, in particular, one of the first Roman Pontiff, Pope Clement I was martyred. Later his head was found by Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
Various sources tell about the baptism of Kyivan Prince Askold in 860 during the campaign against Constantinople. There are assumptions that while the prince attempted to baptize the Kyiv residents even brought the bishops to create a church structure. However, in 882 he was killed, and the religious reform failed due to strong opposition to of the pagans.
But the Christian community in Kyiv remained, as evidenced by the agreement between Rus and Constantinople concluded by Prince Igor in 941, the tenth century.
And new rise of Christianity in Rus was initiated by the Holy Princess Olga, which is recognized as a equal to the Apostles.
In contrast, in western lands the Christianity spread in the ninth and tenth centuries from Moravia, where the Church was founded by Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
Therefore the Baptism of Rus by Prince Volodymyr was a continuation of a long process of Christianization of Kyivan Rus.
The Day of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus – July 28 – became an official state holiday pursuant to the decree of the President of Ukraine in 2008. It should be noted that July 28 is the day of Prince Volodymyr’s repose, and his baptism most likely took place on August 14 (new style).