Although these brothers were not missionaries, monks or teachers, they are nonetheless among Russia's most famous saints. They are honored by the Russian Church as "passion bearers" - innocent men who faced an unjust death bravely and without opposition.
Boris and Gleb were sons of Anne of Cnstantinople and Vladimir of Kiev, who made Christianity the official religion of Russia. Valdimir envisioned dividing the country and granting each of his sons a territory to rule. But in 1015, he died in battle and Boris and Gleb's eldest half-brother, Svyatopolk, took advantage of the confusion and seized control of the kingdom. Determined not to share the authority of the throne, he set about plotting the murders of his siblings.
Boris, who was away from the capital when his father died, learned of his brother's plot as he was heading home. His soldiers swore to defend the young man against Svyatopolk's men, but Boris refused to let them raise their weapons against his brother. Boris, who was about 20 years old, was murdered, just nine days after his father's death. Gleb stayed away from Kiev for several months until invited to return by Svyatopolk. He was ambushed on his journey home, and like his brother, Gleb refused to defend himself against Svyatopolk's men. He, too, died.
Four years later, Jaroslav, Vladimir's son by a previous marriage, overthrew Svyatopolk and took control of Kiev. He had the bodies of Boris and Gleb moved to St. Basil's Church in Vyshgorod and proclaimed the two men martyrs. Miracles are said to have occurred at their tomb.
help us in our quest for peace.
Open our eyes so that we may see the world
reflected in You.
Soften the hearts of those
who have become hardened by evil
and fill them with love
for their fellow man.
Bless the children, Lord,
who grow up in fear
of the violence that seems at times
to surround their world.
Give them the protection
of Your abundant love
and show them the way to live in peace.
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives