For the first time, a single album is uniting vintage photos of Orthodox churches and cathedrals built to honour Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir. The foreword quotes Russian writer Stefan Runkevich (1867-1924), who was Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, and who was born into the family of a Minsk Eparchy archpriest. It states: ‘We own a duty of state service to the nation; beyond this, our service is a feat of holiness’.
he duke was viewed as Equal-to-the-Apostles due to his work in Ancient Russia, initiating new believers in following Christ. The authors make no claim to presenting an exhaustive study, or presenting new information on the duke’s life. Rather, their rich illustrations ‘outline the key stages of the Russia baptiser’s life, in accordance with modern historians’ views’.
The chapter names speak for themselves: ‘St. Equal-to-the-Apostles Duke Vladimir’; ‘The Church Veneration of Duke Vladimir’; ‘Churches to Honour St. Vladimir’; ‘The Order of St. Vladimir’; ‘Monuments’; ‘Churches on Postcards and Photos from the Late 19th-Early 20th Century’; and ‘In Memory of his Descendants’.
For his work to date, Mr. Lihodedov holds the Presidential ‘For Spiritual Revival’ Award.
A wide variety and geography of places honour St. Vladimir, from Arzamas to Chersonese. The Arzamas Church of Vladimir Mother of God was built in 1801 and still stands; it is currently being restored. Several postcards from the early 20th century are devoted to the building.
The album also features photos of churches of St. Vladimir in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania. Moscow and St. Petersburg sites are most attractive but each tells its own story. The ruins at Chersonese were unearthed in 1827; according to the legend, Duke Vladimir was baptised there. In 1850, a monastery was established, honouring St. Vladimir, and three years later, the first small church was opened. During the Crimean War of 1853-1856, Chersonese was occupied by the enemy, and the monastery destroyed (it was restored only after the city’s liberation). In the early 20th century, two more churches operated alongside the main cathedral but, in 1915, the monastery finally closed. Some of its premises have survived and are now occupied by the Chersonese Museum.
The filocard and historical-documentary work on St. Vladimir is a continuation of In Search of the Lost: an artistic project publishing reproductions of old postcards, by Belarus Segodnya (Sovetskaya Belorussiya) newspaper. The ‘encyclopaedia of postcards’ was a series of 18 books (many published by Zvyazda Publishing House). The Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir album is a worthy continuation of the project.
By Ales Karlyukevich