The Story of Saint Vladimir the Great’s Search for the True Religion

St. Vladimir the Great

In the year 987, Vladimir summoned together his boyars and the city elders and said to them, “The Bulgars [Muslims] came before me urging me to accept their religion. Then came the Germans [Latin Christians] and praised their own faith; and after them came the Jews. Finally the Greeks [Orthodox Christians] appeared, criticizing all other faiths but commending their own. What is your opinion on this subject, and what do you answer?” The boyars and elders replied, “You have your men at your disposal. Send them to enquire about the ritual of each and how they worship God.”

Their counsel pleased the prince and all the people, so that they chose good and wise men to the number of ten. Then they went their way.

When they returned, Vladimir called together his boyars and elders and commanded the envoys to speak out, and so they did, saying: “Among the Bulgars [Muslims], we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they stand ungirt. The Bulgar bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like one possessed, and there is no joy among them, but only sorrow. Their religion is not good.  Then we went among the Germans [Latin Christians], and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no beauty there.

Then we went to Byzantium, and the Greeks [Orthodox Christians] led us to the places where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

* This excerpt is from “The Russian Chronicles: A Thousand Years that Changed the World”


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