Vladimir the Great
* Volodymyr the Great wanted to unite his kingdom around one national religion, and sent out his counselors to research the different religions of the nations nearby. The following excerpts from the article 988 Vladimir Adopts Christianity at ChristianHistory.net tells us several reasons why he chose Christianity:
“He opted for Orthodoxy because of its beautiful worship. Orthodoxy was also the religion of the most powerful, wealthy, and civilized.. Impressed by Orthodoxy’s beauty, he also was impressed by another beauty: Anna, sister of Byzantine emperors Basil II and Constantine, who offered her to Volodymyr as a bride with the condition that he be baptized.
In 988 Volodymyr was baptized. In 989 he married Anna.
Significant for church history, Volodymyr then ordered all the inhabitants of Kyiv to appear at the Dnipro River for baptism or be considered enemies of the kingdom. This doesn’t mean that the Slavic nation became a Christian society overnight. But with the help of monks, always a prime force in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the new religion began to make its influence felt.
As for Volodymyr himself, his lifestyle was clearly affected. When he married Anna, he put away his five former wives. Not only did he build churches, he also destroyed idols, abolished the death penalty, protected the poor, established schools, and managed to live in peace with neighboring nations. On his deathbed he gave all his possessions to the poor.”
Editor’s note: Excerpts edited to use Ukrainian proper nouns