Saint Michael the first Metropolitan of Kiev, according to the Joakimov chronicle, was a Syrian by birth, but according to other chronicles, he was a Bulgarian or Serb. In the year 989, he arrived at Korsun with other clergy for holy Prince Vladimir (July 15), not long after Vladimir’s Baptism (988).
As first metropolitan of the Russian Church his service was difficult, but grace-filled. He zealously made the rounds of the newly-enlightened Russian Land, preaching the Holy Gospel, baptizing and teaching the newly-illumined people, founding the first churches and religious schools.
In Rostov he established the first wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and installed Theodore the Greek there as bishop. St Michael was a wise and gentle, but also strict hierarch. The Russian Church has preserved the memory of the saint’s praiseworthy deeds. In the Synodikon of the Novgorod and Kiev Sophia cathedrals he is rightfully called the initiator.
St Michael died on June 15, 992 and was buried in the Desyatin-Tithe church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Kiev. In about the year 1103, under the Igumen St Theoctistus (afterwards Bishop of Chernigov, August 5), his relics were transferred to the Antoniev Cave, and on October 1, 1730 into the Great Church of the Caves. Thus his memory was celebrated on September 30, and also July 15, the day of his repose.
Formerly, his memory was celebrated on September 2, along with Sts Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves. There is a trace of this earlier celebration in the service to St Michael. In the second verse of the “Praises” we sing: “Having begun the new year, we offer you our first songs, O blessed one, for you were the beginning of the hierarchy in the Russian land.”
St Michael is also commemorated on September 30.