Martyrs and Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb

Saint Boris was one of the sons of St Vladimir (July 15), and was named Romanus at his Baptism. After their father’s death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris’s land holdings inherited from their father.

Some of Vladimir’s advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. St Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.

Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.

Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris’s servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords.

St Boris received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. He and his brother Gleb became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.