If you pay close attention, this story has some rabbit-punches right near the end.
St Volodymyr is perhaps better known to those of us in the west as St Vladimir, the patron saint & baptiser of Russia. His is just one of a surprisingly large number of significant anniversaries in 2015:
Perhaps not too surprisingly, with a Russian President called “Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin”, the authorities in Moscow are going hard at it to erect a 25m (82 feet) statue of St. Volodymyr on the top of one of the highest hills in the city (the Hill of Sparrows).
Here is the sculptor with his model for the statue (you can see that it is going to be holding a sword, or something):
There are many people in Moscow protesting at this proposed erection, not least because the Geologists say that the 330 ton (tonne?) statue could make the crest of the hill unstable. However, the recent anti-blasphemy laws (11 June 2013, sparked by the actions of Pussy Riot) make it a little dangerous to protest against religion. In addition, arguing against a statue of St. Volodymyr, Equal to the Apostles, Baptiser of Russia, in Russia, must be a little like speaking against mom & apple pie in America. And in any case, the Americans have a statue of a woman on the approaches to New York that is so large that folks can climb inside her head.
Vladimir was born 958 & began his reign on 11 June 980; he was was a prince of Novgorod. After the death of his father in 972, his brothers fell into fratricide, which Vladimir avoided by fleeing to Sweden. The king of Norway was a relative (all the kings of Europe & Russia seemed to be blood relatives for a 1,000 years).
Vladimir returned at the head of a Norse army, recaptured his own lands, raped a princess that refused to be his wife & murdered his brother in Kiev via treachery, thus putting himself in the position of being proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus (“big boss”).
Starting in 981 he expanded his father’s former territories, and took 800 concubines.
Although Christianity was active in his realm, Vladimir was pagan. He now decided to pick a religion for Russia. He was surrounded by Islam (Bulgars of the Volga), Roman Catholic (German) & Orthodox (Constantinople) Christianity + Jews. He chose the Byzantine Church of the Orthodox.
In September 987 the Byzantine emperor Basill II asked Vladimir for help against newly victorious rebels. Vladimir agreed, and also to be baptised, to marry Basil’s daughter & to baptise his people in the Byzantine faith, which he duly did (in the rivers of the Dnieper & of Crimea).
Volodymyr is the patron saint of Kiev, Ukraine (he was also prince of the town) & in 1840 a 67 foot (20m) statue was placed high on a hill over the river Dnieper, after the steep slopes of the hill called Vladimirskaya gorka had been strengthened. ‘Volodymyr’ is ‘Vladimir’ in Ukrainian:-
--------- Alex Kemp