Christianization of Ukraine
When looking at Ukraine today it is easy to determine that most of the country is either a believer under the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. While the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is under the rule of the Moscow Patriarchate these two churches have learned to coexist. However, it is crucial that we understand where and how Christianity came to have such a major influence in Ukraine? It is very hard to pin point how and when Christianity was FULLY accepted as the official religion in Ukraine. Many believe Christianity started with St. Andrew[footnoteRef:1]. Others believe it was under the rule of Great Moravia that the slavs accepted the religion. While others recognize that Christianity only came to be because of Vladimir the Great who baptized medieval Kievan Rus’ and made Christianity the state religion. However, it is safe to state that even with all of the rulers accepting the religion, the Christianization of Kievan Rus’ (Ukraine) came in chunks and waves. If it were not for the connections especially trading routes connecting all of the major cities, Christianity and its message would have never made it to Ukraine. Christianity came to Ukraine because while outside countries were evolving Kievan Rus’ stayed secluded and isolated from the rest of Western and Eastern Europe. The rulers say this as a huge problem because nothing good came from their isolation. Instead Ukraine was the stopping ground for wars between Russia and Poland. Hence, leading rulers, through the trading routes to either connect with the East or the West; whichever side being more advantageous for them in the future. Due to important trading and communication with other countries it made the Christianization of Ukraine easier. As stated in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, “The Christianization of Ukraine was facilitated by the trade…”[footnoteRef:2] Today Christianity is at the center of the country and plays a big part in the nationalistic values and morals of the country: state and religion go hand in hand. [1: Samuel Hazzard and Olgerg Sherbowitz-Wetzor. The Russian Primary Chronicles. The Medieval Academy of America, 1953 ] [2: Volodymyr, Kubojovyc, Danylo Husar Struk. Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Toronto, 1984-93 http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/default.asp]
First of all, in the 9th century the Ukraine known by many today was conquered by Varangians from Scandinavia. Thus causing the rule of a new Ukrainian tribe: Rus’ who were able to establish groundworks for trading routes with the West and East. Due to many countries gaining interest in Ukraine’s natural resources such as fertile soil which produced lots of grain especially wheat and its central location, a new city emerged: Kiev[footnoteRef:3]. Kiev became the meeting place for Western and Eastern Christians. These new routes towards Kiev created places for “administrative officers and merchants and missionaries of the New Christ...