Prince Martyrs Boris and Gleb,
August 6 (July 24 old calendar)
Princes Boris and Gleb were sons of the Equal-to-the-Apostles prince Vladimir and princess Anna, the Byzantine. Since youth they were noted for their devoutness. According to the scripts we also know that Prince Boris liked church singing very much. Saint Vladimir held them especially dear for their devotion to the holy faith and brotherly love towards each other.
While still alive Prince Vladimir assigned Boris to rule the Rostov province, and Gleb received the Murom princedom. Both Princes worked hard to convert the rough pagans living in those territories into Christians. Saint Gleb is considered to be an educator of the Murom-Riazan region, where from those ancient times up to now he is remembered as the first Christian evangelist and protector of the country.
In the year of 1015 after St. Vladimir's death, his son Sviatopolk (nicknamed "the cursed") seized the power over the great princedom. Being afraid to compete fairly with his pious brothers, he decided to kill them.
At the time St. Boris was deployed with his armed forces on the Alta River. His troops suggested attacking and seizing Kiev, but St. Boris did not want to violate the sacred kinship relations and rejected the proposal with indignation. Sviatopolk informed St. Boris of their father's death, insidiously offered brotherly cooperation, and promised to expand St. Boris' princedom while at the same time sending mercenaries to assassinate him. On the night of July 23rd the mercenaries approached Boris' tent. When they heard psalms sung in the tent, they decided to wait until Boris fell asleep. Hardly had the saint prince gone to his bed, the murderers broke into the tent and speared him and his slave Georgui, a Hungarian, who tried to protect his master with his own body. The assassins wrapped the martyr who was still breathing into a tent cloth and rode to Sviatopolk. When Sviatopolk learned that Saint Boris was still alive, he sent two Variangians to pierce his heart with swords. The body of Saint Boris was secretly brought to Vyshgorod and buried there in the church of Saint Vasilii.
After killing Saint Boris, Sviatopolk invited Saint Gleb, who at the time was staying near Smolensk, to visit their father who allegedly got seriously ill. The young prince already knowing about Sviatopolk's atrocious deeds was tearfully praying for his father and brother. Horacer, who headed the assassins, ordered the prince's cook, a Turk, to butcher his master. The order was carried out on September 5, 1015.
In 1019, Kiev was conquered by Vladimir's son Jaroslav who ordered that Saint Gleb's body be found and buried next to Boris' grave. Soon the grave was noticed to work wonders. After the church of Saint Vasilii was destroyed by a fire, the bodies of the princes were brought to a new church built in Vishgorod in their honor. When the caskets were opened, metropolitan Ioann and the clergy witnessed a miracle: the bodies of the saints were as white as snow and their faces were shining with holy light, a heavenly incense filled the church and all that were present awed. In 1240, during the Batyi invasion, the bodies of the princes disappeared. Both princes-martyrs are glorified in Russia, beginning from those ancient times. This is testified, among other things, by the great number of monasteries and churches that were built in their honor and came through the ages to our time in many parts of Russia.
Russian people regarded the saint princes-martyrs as their protectors and intercessors. The scripts are full of descriptions of many people wonderfully healed near the relics of the saint princes and of the victories that were won with their help (e.g. the victory of Ruric, son of Rostislav, over Konchak; or the triumph of Alexander-of-the-Neva over the German tribes).
Troparion, Tone 2
O Passion-bearers and fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ,/ chaste Boris and guileless Gleb:/ you did not oppose the attacks of the enemy, your brother,/ when he killed your bodies but could not touch your souls./ Let him therefore mourn while you rejoice with the Angels/ standing before the Holy Trinity./ Pray that those who honor your memory may find grace with God/ and that all Orthodox people may be saved.
Kontakion, Tone 3
Today your memory shines forth, noble sufferers,/ and summons us to glorify Christ our God./ Those who come to the shrine of your relics/ receive healing through your prayers,/ for you are holy physicians.
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
2049 Argyle Ave. Los Angeles, California 90068