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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

July 24

SS. Romanus and David, Martyrs

[Patrons of Muscovy. 1]  THE HISTORY of the conversion of the Russians (now called Muscovites) to the faith of Christ, has been perplexed by the mistakes of many who have treated this point of history. The learned Jesuit F. Antony Possevin was betrayed into many falsities concerning this people. 2 And upon his authority some have pretended that the Muscovites received the faith from the Greek schismatics, and at the same time adhered to their schism; than which, nothing can be more notoriously false, as Henschenius and Papebrochius 3 show. F. Stilting, another learned Bollandist, has demonstrated by an express dissertation, 4 that the Muscovites were at first Catholics, and that even in the time of the council of Florence the Catholics and schismatics in Russia made two equal halves. The Greek schism was formed by Cerularius several years after the conversion of the Russians. The schism indeed of Photius was a short prelude to it.  1
  Cedrenus, Zonaras, and some others relate, that an army of Russians besieged Constantinople in the time of the Emperor Michael III., when Photius held that see; and that being obliged to raise the siege they obtained certain Greek priests from Constantinople, who instructed them in the Christian faith. This first mission Baronius places in 853, Pagi in 861; but this must either be understood of some tribe of Russians in Bohemia, where St. Cyril then preached; or these authors must have confounded together things which happened at different times; for the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetta, who lived near that time, and could not but be acquainted with this transaction, says both in his life of his grandfather, Basil the Macedonian, and in his book, On administering the Empire, that the Russians besieged the city in the time of Photius, but that they were converted to the faith by priests sent at their request from Constantinople in the time of Basil the Macedonian and the patriarch St. Ignatius, whom that prince restored upon his ascending the throne in 867; which also appears from Zonaras.  2
  The first plant of the faith in this nation was the holy Queen Helen, called before her baptism Olga. She was wife to the Duke Ihor or Igor, who undertook an expedition against the city of Constantinople, as Simeon Metaphrastes, the monk George, Cedrenus, Zonaras, and Curopalates relate. Having been repulsed by the generals of the Emperors Romanus and Constantine, he was slain by the Dreulans in his return. His widow Olga, with great valour and conduct revenged his death, vanquished the Dreulans, and governed the state several years with uncommon prudence and courage. When she was almost seventy years old she resigned the government to her son Suatoslas, and going to Constantinople was there baptized, taking the name of Helen. 5 Many place this event in 952, which date seems most agreeable to the Greek historians; but Kulcinius and Stilting infer from the chronology of the dukes of Russia, that she seems to have been baptized in 945. We are expressly assured by Constantine Porphyrogenetta that it happened in 946. She returned into her own country, and by her zealous endeavours brought many to the faith; but was never able to compass the conversion of her son, who was probably withheld by reasons of state. She died in 970 or 978. Her grandson Uladimir, who succeeded Suatoslas, asked by a solemn embassy, and obtained in marriage Anne, sister to the two emperors Basil and his colleague and brother Constantine. Nicholas Chrysoberga, the orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, a person always zealous in maintaining the communion of the see of Rome, at that prince’s request, sent into Muscovy one Michael with other preachers, who baptized Uladimir, and married him to the princess about the year 988. 6 This duke founded near Kiow the great monastery of the Cryptæ in favour of the abbot St. Antony, and died, according to Kulcinius, in 1008. His two sons, SS. Boris and Hliba or Cliba, called in Latin Romanus and David, were murdered by the usurper Suatopelch, their impious brother, in 1010. It was their zeal for the faith of Christ which gave occasion to their death. Jaroslas, another brother, defeated the usurper, and obtained the principality; his daughter Anne was married to Henry I., king of France, in 1044, and became the foundress of the church of St. Vincent at Senlis. Romanus and David are honoured in Muscovy on the 24th of July. Their remains were translated into a church which was built in their honour at Vislegorod in 1072, the ceremony being performed with great pomp, by George, the fifth archbishop of Kiow, and several other bishops, in presence of Izazlas, Suatoslas, and Usevolod, princes of Russia, and a great train of noblemen. The synod of Zamoski, in 1720, which was approved by the Congregation de Propagandâ Fide, and confirmed by Pope Benedict XIII., reckons among the holidays of precept which are kept by the Catholic Russians in Lithuania and other provinces, the feast of these two martyrs, celebrated on the 24th of July, and that of the translation of their relics on the 2d of May. 7  3
  The Catholic Russians in Lithuania and Poland keep no festival of any other Muscovite saints except of these two martyrs. 8 But the Muscovites honour several other saints of their own country; several among whom flourished, and doubtless were placed by them in their Calendar before their schism, as Papebroke and Jos. Assemani observe. Such as the queen Helen or Olga, on the 11th of July, who died, according to Kulcinius, in 978. Uladimir, her grandson, duke of the Russians, and son of Suatoslas on the 15th of July, who was baptized in 990, died in 1014, and was buried in our Lady’s church at Kiow. 9 Antony, abbot, a native of Russia. who embraced the monastic state upon Mount Athos, and returning to Kiow, became the patriarch of that Order in his own country, and on a mountain half a mile from the town founded, about the year 1020, the great Russian monastery of Pieczari or the Cryptæ, in which the archimandrite of all the Russian monks resides, and the archbishop of Kiow has an apartment. Antony died in 1073, on the 10th of July, on which his festival is kept in Muscovy. 10 This monastery is famous for the Cryptæ or vaults, in which the bodies of many saints and monks who lived above six hundred years ago, remain uncorrupted and fresh. Agapetus, disciple of Antony, at the Cryptæ, famous for miracles, honoured on the 1st of June. Athanasius, monk at the Cryptæ, on the 2nd of December; he was a native of Trabesond, who, by the liberality and protection of the emperor Nicephorus Phocas, founded the great monastery on Mount Athos in Macedonia. He is honoured by the Greeks and Muscovites on the 5th of July. 11 The lives of these and several other ancient monks of this house were written by Polycarp, who died in 1182. The grand duke Alexander, surnamed Newski, who died in 1262, and is honoured on the 30th of April. Sergius, an abbot, is honoured by the Muscovites on the 25th of September. He died in 1292, and was never involved in the schism, as Papebroke, Kulcinius, and Jos. Assemani show. This Sergius was born at Roslow, founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Rudosno, (sixty Italian miles from Moscow,) the richest and most numerous in Muscovy, in which are sometimes two or three hundred monks. The body of Sergius is kept there incorrupt, and is much visited out of devotion from Moscow, sometimes by the Czars. These and several others who are named in the Muscovite Calendar with the most eminent saints of the eastern and western churches, lived either before or when this nation was not engaged in the Greek schism. But to these saints the Muscovites add some few who died since their separation from the Catholic communion, as Photius, archbishop of Kiow, whose principal merit consisted in the obstinacy with which he maintained the schism. See Kulcinius, Specimen Ecclesiæ Ruthenicæ; Papebroke in the beginning of May, Comm. in Ephem. Jos. Assemani, in Calend. Univ. ad 25 Sept. t. 5. p. 254, &c.  4
Note 1. Some derive the pedigree and name of the Muscovites from Mosoch, the son of Japhet, who, with his brothers Magog, Thubal, and Gomer, and their children peopled the northern kingdoms. (Ezech. xxxviii. 6, &c.) These are reputed the patriarchs of the Cappadocians, Tartars, Scythians, Sarmatians, &c. See Bochart, Phaleg. l. 3, c. 12. and Calmet. It seems not to be doubted, that the Moschi, mentioned by Strabo and Mela, and situated between Colchis and Armenia, near the Moschici Montes, were the descendants of Mosoch. As the Scythians from the coasts of the Euxine and Caspian seas afterwards penetrated more northwards in Asia and Europe, and as the Cimmerii, who were the sons of Gomer, afterwards settled about the Bosphorus and Mœotis, so some authors pretend that the Moschi passed into Europe, and settled near them on the borders of the Scythians and Sarmatians. But the Muscovites evidently take their name from the city of Moscow, built about the year 1149, so called from a monastery named Moskoi (from Mus or Musik, men, q. d. the Seat of Men,) not from the river Moscow, which was anciently called Smorodina. (See J. S. Bayer, Orig. Russicæ, t. 8, Acad. Petrop. p. 390.) For the name of Muscovites was not given to this tribe of Russians before the beginning of the fourteenth century. It was assumed on the following occasion: In 1319, Gedimidius, great duke of Lithuania, having vanquished the Russian duke of Kiow, the archbishop Peter removed his see to Moscow, and from that town these Russians began then to be called Muscovites; for the duke John, son of Daniel, soon followed the archbishop, and transferred thither the seat of his principality from Uladimiria: though the archbishop of Kiow continued to take the title of Metropolitan of all Russia. See Herbersteinius (Chorographia Principatus Ducis Moscoviæ; also, in Rerum Muscovitarum Commentar,) and more accurately Ignatius Kulczynski, in Latin Kulcinius, a Basilian monk at Rome. (Specimen Ecclesiæ Ruthenicæ, printed at Rome in 1733, also Catalog. archiepisc. Kioviensium; and Series Chronol. Magn. Russiæ seu Moscoviæ Ducum.) Hence the name of Muscovites first occurs in Chalcocondylus and other Greek historians about that time. We are informed by these authors, and by Herbersteinius, that these Russians were tributary to the Tartar king of Agora in Asia from 1125 to 1506. But since they shook off that yoke they have subdued the Russians of Novogorod and other places in Europe, and have extended their dominions almost to the extremity of Asia in Great Tartary. See Bayer, Diss. de Russorum primâ expedit. Constantinopolitana, t. 6, Comm. Acad. Petrop. et Orig. Russiæ, ib. t. 8. Also Jos. Assemani, De Kalend. Univ. t. 1, par. 2, c. 4, p. 275.
  The name Russi or Rossi, seems not to be older than the ninth century. Cedrenus and Zonaras speak of them as a Scythian nation inhabiting the northern side of Mount Taurus, a southern region of Asiatic Scythia, now Great Tartary. They are a nation entirely distinct from the Roxolani, the ancient Sarmatians near the Tanais, though these Russians afterwards became masters of that country, and took their name either from that of Roxolani abridged, or from Rosseia, which in their language signifies an assemblage of people. Constantine Porphyrogenetta tells us, that the language of the Russians and Sclavonians was quite different; and the monk Nestor, in the close of the eleventh century, the most ancient historian of Russia, in his chronicle assures us, that the Russians and Sclavonians are two different nations; but the great affinity of the present Russian language with the Sclavonian shows, that the Russians, mixing with the Sclavonians, learned in a great measure their language.
  It is well known that, anciently, the southern parts of Muscovy were inhabited by Goths, whom the Huns or ancient Tartars from Asia, expelled in the fourth century. Also that the northern part was peopled by Scythians, whom the Muscovites still call by the same name Tscudi, i. e. Scythians, and the lake Peipus, Tschudzhoi. We learn from Constantine Porphyrogenetta (l. De administ. Imper. c. 9,) that the name of Russia was given in the tenth century to the country of which Kiow was the capital, and which comprised also Czernigov, Novogorod, &c. Snorro Sturleson (Hist, regn. Septentr. t. 1, p. 6,) says these people called their ancient capital, situated towards the gulf of Finland, Aldeiguborg or Old-Town, in opposition to which Novogorod or New-Town, took its name. The Waregians, invited by the Russians to defend them against the Khosares, who lived near the Black or the Euxine Sea, crossing the Baltic, settled among the Russians, it is uncertain in what age. See T. S. Bayer, de Varegis, t. 4. Comment. Acad. Scient. Petrop. p. 275. Er. Jul. Biæner, Sched. Hist. Geogr. de Varegis heroibus Scandinianis et primis Russiæ Dynasts at Stockholm, 1743. Arvid. Mulleris De Varegia, 1731. Algol. Scarinus de Originibus priscæ gentis Varegorum, 1743.
  We know not in what age the Sclavonians obtained settlements in the northern parts of Russia. They are first named in Procopius and Jornandes, were part of the Venedi, and with them from Sarmatia travelled into Germany; where they settled for some time on the coast of the Baltic, afterwards in the centre of Germany near Thuringia, and in Beheim, or Bohemia, where they long ruled and left their language. In the reign of Justinian they crossed the Danube, and conquered part of Pannonia and Illyricum, where a small territory, fifty German miles long, of which Peter-waradin is the most considerable place, between the Danube, the Drave, and the Save, is still called Sclavonia: it was conquered by the kings of Hungary, and is still subject to the house of Austria. The Slavi fell everywhere into so miserable a servitude, that from them are derived the names of Slavery and Slaves. The Sclavonian language is used in the divine office in Illyricum, &c. according to the Latin rite; in Muscovy, &c. according to the Greek rite. (See on SS. Cyril and Methodius, 22 Dec.) The Muscovites have no Russian Bibles; but with very little study can understand the Sclavonian, says Brusching.
  In the year 892, Rurik, Sineus, and Tyuwor, three brothers from the Warengi on the other side of the Baltic, came by invitation into Russia, and ruled the Sclavonians and Russians united into one nation. Rurik survived his brothers, and became sole sovereign. The Runic inscriptions in the northern Antiquities are not of an older date.
  Rurik fixed his seat near the lake Ladoga. His son Igor transferred his court from Novogorod to Kiow. His widow Olga received the faith, and was baptized at Constantinople. Their son Suatoslas died an idolater; but his son Wladimir the Great married Anne, a Grecian princess, received baptism, and was imitated by his subjects. He built the city which from him is called Wladimiria, which under his grandson, Andrew Bogolikski, became the ducal residence. Wladimir I. is honoured in the Muscovite Calendar. Kiow still has its dukes. Jaroslas, son of Wladimir, was succeeded there by his son Wsevolod I. in 1078, in whose reign Ephrem, metropolitan of Kiow, established in Russia, pursuant to the bull of Urban II. the feast of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas to Bari, on the 9th of May never known in the Greek Church; which shows their obedience to the pope, and their connexion with the Latin Church. The Greeks also were then Catholics. George duke of Russia at Wladimiria recovered Kiow, and in 1156 built the city of Moscow. Jaroslas II. succeeded his brother George II. in the great dukedom of Russia in 1238, and resided at Wladimiria. In his reign in 1244, the Russians were reunited to the see of Rome, part having been a little before drawn into the Greek schism. His son Alexander, in his father’s lifetime prince of Novogorod, with his brother Feodor or Theodor, gained great victories over the Tartars, who had long oppressed the Russians, and succeeded to the great dukedom in 1246. He is surnamed Newski or of Newa, from a great victory which he gained in 1241 on the banks of the Newa, over the Poles and the Teutonic knights in Livonia. Those knights who, by victories over the idolaters had made themselves masters of Livonia, had their own high master at Riga, who soon made himself independent of the grand-master of the same order in Prussia. This order, which was dismembered from the Knights Hospitallers, or of Jerusalem, (afterwards of Rhodes and Malta,) to defend the Christians in Germany against the inroads of the barbarous northern infidel nations, long produced many incomparable great heroes, and models of all virtues. But enriched by great conquests, their successors, by pride, luxury, and continual intestine wars, gave occasion to several scandals. At length, Albert, marquis of Brandenburg, grand-master in Prussia, turned Lutheran, and received from the King of Poland the investiture of ducal Prussia. The knights expelled by him retired to Mariandhal in Franconia, and there chose a new grand-master. He is chosen by the twelve provincial commanders. William of Furstenburg, Heer-meister of Livonia, also declared himself a Lutheran, and in 1559 resigned his dignity to his coadjutor Gotthard Kettler. He also being a Lutheran, ceded part of Livonia to the Danes, and the chief part to the Poles, receiving from the latter the investiture of Courland and Samogitia as secular dukedoms; Livonia fell under the power of Charles XI. of Sweden, but was added to the empire of Muscovy by Peter the Great.
  To return to the Grand Duke Alexander Newski, he received an embassy from the pope in 1262, the contents of which are not recorded. He died crowned with glory at Gorodes, near Nischui-Novogorod, in 1262, on the 30th of April, on which day his festival is kept in Muscovy, and he is honoured as one of the principal saints of the country. The tczar Peter the Great built, in his honour, a magnificent convent of Basilian monks on the banks of the Newa in Livonia, not far from his new city of Petersburg, the archbishop of which city resides in it. The Empress Catherine instituted, in 1725, the second Order of Knighthood in Russia under his name. Their daughter the Empress Elizabeth caused his bones to be put in a rich shrine covered with thick plates of silver, placed at the foot of a magnificent mausoleum in this monastery. The Muscovites relate wonderful things of his eminent virtues, and miracles wrought at his tomb. Pope Benedict XIV. proves that, upon due authority, all this may be admitted even of one who had died in a material schism, or with inculpable ignorance. But this prince lived and died in communion with the see of Rome, though he has never been placed in the Calendars of the Catholic Church.
  Daniel, fourth son of Alexander, left by his father, Duke of Moscow, after the death of an uncle and three brothers became Grand Duke, and from his reign in 1304, Moscow became the ducal residence, till Peter I. gave a share in that honour to his new city of St. Petersburg.
  In the reign of Basil or Vasili II. in 1415, Photius, metropolitan of Russia, residing at Kiow, having espoused the Greek schism, was deposed by the council of Novogrodek, under the protection of Alexander Vithold, grand-duke of Lithuania. Retiring into Great Russia he there exceedingly promoted the schism. Gregory, who succeeded him at Kiow, assisted at the council of Constance. Iwan or John IV. is the first who took the title of Tczar in 1552. This word in the Russian language signifies king. In the Russian Chronicles that title is given to the Greek emperors. In their Bibles it is used for king, both in the Russian and Sclavonian language.
  In Feodor or Theodore ended, in 1598, the race of Rurik. After two others who had been chief ministers and two false Demetriuses, in 1613, Michael, of the family of Romanow, allied to that of the preceding tczars, was chosen great duke. The third of this family was Peter the Great, founder of the Russian empire. [back]
Note 2. Possev. L. De Rebus Moscoviticis. [back]
Note 3. Præf. ad Ephemer. Græco-Moschas, n. 11, p. 3. [back]
Note 4. Dissert. de Russorum Conversione et Fide apud Acta Sanctor. t. 41, seu vol. 2, Septembris. [back]
Note 5. Constantine Porphyrogenetta succeeded Leo the Wise in the empire in 911; in 919, he associated in the throne his Drungar, or Admiral Romanus Lecapenus, whose daughter, Helena, he had married. Romanus reigned to the year 944; from which time his covetous daughter, Helena, had a great share in governing the empire. Constantine was buried in his studies, and dying in 959, fifty-four years old, left the empire to his impious son, Romanus II., who is said to have poisoned him, and who died in 963, leaving the empire to Nicephorus Phocas, his valiant general, who had often defeated the Russians and Saracens. His daughter, Anne, was married to Wladimir, duke of Russia. Constantine Porphyrogenetta (l. de Cœm. Aulæ Byzant. l. 2, c. 15,) relates, that on Wednesday, the 9th of September, 946, Olga, princess of Russia, was received with great pomp at Constantinople by Constantine (himself) and Romanus, emperors; and describes her different receptions at their court, the banquets which they prepared for her, the presents in money which they made to her uncle of thirty miliaretia, (each of which contained two ceratia, each ceratium twelve folles, of which five hundred made a pound of silver,) eight to her priest, Gregory, and to each of her friends, to herself five hundred miliaretia, in a gold dish studded with diamonds and precious stones. At each other entertainment like presents were distributed. The dessert of sweet-meats was served on a little gold table, in dishes made of, or studded with, precious stones. [back]
Note 6. See the Annals of the Russians in Hebersteinius, in Rerum Muscovit. Comment. and Jos. Assemani, in Calend. Univ. t. 2, p. 265, and t. 3. [back]
Note 7. Syn. Zamosciania, tit. de Jejun. et Fest. p. 121. Jos. Assemani, de Calend. Univ. t. 4, p. 65, t. 6, p. 497. [back]
Note 8. The United Russians, who, renouncing the schism, embraced the communion of the Roman Church, are chiefly subject to Poland, and ever since Clement VIII. have a metropolitan of Kiow, (since Kiow was conquered by the Muscovites these have established there their schism with a metropolitan of their communion,) an archbishop of Plosco, and bishops of Kelma, Presmilia, Liceoria, and Leopold, with several convents of Basilian monks, who all follow the Greek rites; though several Russians in the Polish dominions still adhere to the Greek schism. See Urban Cerri’s (secretary to the Propaganda) Relation, p. 56, and Mamachi, Orig. et Antiquit. Christ. l. 2, c. 17, t. 2, p. 180. Papebroke, Not. in Ephemer. Græc. Mosch. t. 1, Maij Bollandiani, p. 54, &c.
  The metropolitan of Moscow was declared patriarch of all the Russian schismatics by Jeremy, patriarch of Constantinople, in 1588, and was acknowledged in that character by the other oriental patriarchs. But the Czar, Peter I. having learned, from the experience of above a hundred years, that the patriarchs made use of their great influence and authority in matters of state, after that dignity had been vacant nineteen years, caused it to be abolished, and an archbishop of Moscow to be chosen in 1719. For the government of the church of Muscovy, and receiving appeals, he appointed a council of eleven bishops and other clergymen, the president of which the Czar nominates. See John Von Strahlenburg (Historical and Geographical Description of Russia and Siberia, an. 1738,) and Le Quien. (Oriens Christianus, t. 1, p. 1296.) Some Catholics enjoy the exercise of their religion in several parts of Muscovy. Kilcinius observes that many saints have flourished in this nation since it has been engaged in schism. Possevinus and Papebroke take notice that the Greeks, since their schism, have been reunited to the Latin Church fourteen times. The latter of these learned authors also remarks, that even when the archbishops were most turbulent schismatics, no one will say that all the people were involved in the same guilt; even ignorance might excuse many, as Baronius answered, with regard to monks who lived under a schismatical abbot, (ad an. 1036.) As for Polish Russia, F. Kulesza, a learned Polish Jesuit, in a book entitled, Fides Orthodoxa, printed at Vilna, assures us, that all the archbishops of Kiow have been Catholics, except two, Photius and Jonas II. till, in 1686, it was given up to the Muscovites. By the intrigues of this Photius, in the middle of the fifteenth century, the Greek schism was propagated through all Muscovy. [back]
Note 9. See Jos. Assemani in Calend. t. 6. p. 480, on the 15th of July, et t. 4, p. 34 to 52. [back]
Note 10. See Jos. Assemani in Calend. p. 471, t. 6, ad 10 Julij. [back]
Note 11. Id. ad 5 Julij, p. 462, et t. 1, pp. 21, 29. [back]