ITAR-TASS: Cyril and Methodius were Greeks

The monument in Kiev

MOSCOW July 28 (Itar-Tass) - Russia is marking for the first time in its history the Day of Baptizing of Kievan Rus - a new ‘commemorative date’ that has been established to commemorate the Grand Duke Vladimir, who adopted Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the official religion of the early medieval duchy of Rus.

“The establishing of the Christian faith in the olden Rus helped promote the consolidation and flourishing of the state and exerted a great influence on the maintenance of Russia’s unity at knotty periods of history,” members of the upper house of Russian parliament said in their decision as they added July 28 to the list of commemorative dates.

In Moscow, the main gala events and functions will be held by the Resurrection Gate on Red Square, in the St Vladimir’s Church on the downtown Solyanka street, and on Pushkin Square.

The feast will begin with bell ringing and a festive liturgy, while the rest of the day will see exhibitions, fairs and concerts.

Ukraine, too, will mark the day of memory of Grand Duke Vladimir, who baptized the population of the olden city of Kiev in the waters of the River Dnieper in 988.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I is expected to lead a festive liturgy in the world-famous Kievan Monastery of the Caves.

Another important festive service will be held in Sevastopol on the territory of the ancient Chersonesos, a Greek colony founded around 500 BC. It was there that St Vladimir - also known in the folk tradition as Vladimir the Red Sun - himself received baptism.

A group of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian scholars put forward the idea of marking the day of St Prince Vladimir in 2004. They proposed to observe it on an analogy with the Feast of Slavic Writings and Culture that coincides with the date on which the Russian Orthodox Church venerates St Cyril and St Methodius, the Greek monks who designed the authentic Slavic alphabet.

Patriarch Alexis II, the then supreme hierarch of the Russian Church issued an appeal to state leaders of the three Slavic countries to institute a new date.

Ukraine marks it for the second time.

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