Friday, July 24, 2009

Martyrs and Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb

Commemorated on July 24

Saint Boris was one of the sons of St Vladimir (July 15), and was named Romanus at his Baptism. After their father's death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris's land holdings inherited from their father.

Some of Vladimir's advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. St Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.

Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.

Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris's servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords.

St Boris received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. He and his brother Gleb became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.

Saint Gleb was the son of St Vladimir (July 15) and the brother of Sviatopolk, Yaroslav, and St Boris. He was named David at his Baptism.

After Sviatopolk had killed Boris, he wondered, "Now how can I kill Gleb?" He sent him a message saying that their father was ill and wished to see him. As he was on his way, he received word from Yaroslav that their father had died and that Sviatopolk had murdered Boris.

St Gleb wept for his father and brother, and was lamenting them when the assassins arrived. They seized his boat and drew their weapons, but it was Gleb's cook Torchin who stabbed him with a knife.

The martyr's body was thrown onto the shore between two trees. Later, he was buried beside St Boris in the church of St Basil.

The holy martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb are also commemorated on May 2.

Troparion - Tone 2

Righteous passion-bearers and true fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ,
chaste Boris and guileless Gleb,
you did not resist the attacks of your brother, the enemy,
when he killed your bodies but could not touch your souls.
Therefore, let the evil lover of power mourn
while you rejoice with the angels standing before the Holy Trinity.
Pray that those who honor your memory may be pleasing to God,
and that all Orthodox Christians may be saved.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Today your most glorious memory shines forth,
noble participants in the passion of Christ, holy Boris and Gleb,
for you call us together to sing praises to Christ our God!
Praying to Him before your sacred images,
we receive the gift of healing by your prayers,
for you are indeed divine healers.



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