Saint Vladimir I of Kiev

detail from a Ukrainian 1 grivna bank note showing an image of Saint Vladimir I of Kiev, artist unknownAlso known as

  • Svyatoy Vladimir
  • Vladimir Svyatoslavich
  • Vladimir the Great
  • Vladimir Veliky



Grandson of Saint Olga of Kiev. Son of the pagan Norman-Rus prince Svyatoslav of Kiev and his consort Malushka. Grand prince of Kiev. Prince of Novgorod in 970. On the death of his father in 972, he fled to Scandinavia, enlisted help from an uncle, and overcame Yaropolk, another son of Svyatoslav, who had attempted to seize Novgorod and Kiev. By 980 Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from Ukraine to the Baltic Sea, and had solidified the frontiers against Bulgarian, Baltic, and Eastern nomads.

Christianity had made some progress in Kiev, but Vladimir remained pagan, had seven wives, established temples, and participated in idolatrous rites, possibly involving human sacrifice. Around 987, Byzantine Emperor Basil II sought military aid from Vladimir. The two reached a pact for aid that involved Basil’s sister Anne in marriage, and Vladimir becoming a Christian. He was baptized, took the patronal name Basil, then ordered the Christian conversion of Kiev and Novgorod. Idols were thrown into the Dnieper River, and the new Rus Christians adopted the Byzantine rite in the Old Church Slavonic language. Legend says Vladimir chose the Byzantine rite over the liturgies of German Christendom, Judaism, and Islam because of its transcendent beauty; it probably also reflected his determination to remain independent of external political control.

Byzantines maintained ecclesiastical control over the new Rus church; the Greek metropolitan for Kiev reported to both the patriarch of Constantinople and of the emperor. Rus-Byzantine religio-political integration checked the influence of the Roman Latin church in the Slavic East, and determined the course of Russian Christianity.

Vladimir expanded education, judicial institutions, and aid to the poor. He and Anne had the martyr sons Saint Boris and Saint Gleb. Following the death of Anne in 1011, another marriage affiliated him with the German Holy Roman emperors. His daughter became the consort of Casimir I the Restorer of Poland.


  • 956 at Kiev as Vladimir Svyatoslavich



MLA Citation

  • “Saint Vladimir I of Kiev“. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 July 2020. Web. 6 December 2021. <>