Last weekend saw the pomp and circumstance of the thousandth anniversary of the death of Prince Vladimir the Great — St Vladimir — who brought Christianity to the Rus’ and who, as prince of Kiev, is also an interesting bone of contention between modern Ukraine and Russia. On my “serious” (relatively) blog In Moscow’s Shadows, I note that:
However, reading his eulogy to Prince (and Saint) Vladimir I (ironically, of Kiev), who forcibly baptised his population and thus brought Orthodox Christianity to the Rus’, delivered yesterday (28 July 2015) on the thousand-year anniversary of his death, I wondered if Putin had a new role model:
“By stopping fratricidal wars, crushing external enemies, Prince Vladimir laid down the foundation for creating a single Russian nation and paved the way for the construction of a strong, centralized Russian state.”
To this end, here I give both the official write-up of the saintly cult of St Vladimir from Mythic Russia and also a distinctly tongue-in-cheek rendition of a different St Vladimir altogether…
Vladimir was the prince of Kiev who converted to Christianity in 988 – and his city with him. He is thus considered the first evangelist of Russia, but is essentially a saint-hero rather than a purely religious Power. (Cynics say that his conversion was a political move, and this is why he has no secret, but they will no doubt burn in hell for their impiety.) In Kiev and elsewhere he is also regarded as a patron of all good and great Christian rulers.
Abilities: Commanding Presence, Devotee of St Vladimir or Initiate of St Vladimir, Life of St Vladimir, Order People About.
Virtues: Authoritative, Evangelical, Think New Thoughts.
Affinity: Prince of God (Baptismal Blessing, Bright as the Sun, Strike Down Rebel, Summon the Godly, Topple Pagan Idols)
Rites & Representations: St Vladimir is always shown in conventional terms, as a crowned prince in his robes, with crucifix in one hand, the other empty or holding a sword. His feast day is 4 February, still a great festival in Kiev. [Vlad-DEE-mir]
Worshippers: Princes, warriors, evangelists and proud subjects of Kiev.
Disadvantages: St Vladimir cannot be worshipped through dvoeverie as well as pagan Powers. Furthermore, pagans who do not practice dvoeverie often despise St Vladimir – and by extension his worshippers – for turning against the old ways.
A Time of Troubles demands a hero, and St Vladimir was one such: warrior, lover, spymaster and tsar. Born from humble stock in Leningrad, he learned the ways of the street and then of the Cheka and finally of power, mastering them all with coolly effortless efficiency.
Abilities: Cold Hands Warm Heart, Cultivate Right Friends, Devotee of St Vladimir of the Kremlin or Initiate of St Vladimir of the Kremlin, Judo Master, Life of St Vladimir of the Kremlin, Obscene Slang.
Virtues: Action Man, Coolly Self-Confident, Ruthless.
Affinity: Sovereign Democracy (Demonize Foreigner, Recount Ballots, Rewrite Rules, See Spies All Around)
Secret: Paramount Image (When publicly engaging in some ridiculously over-the-top test of physical manhood such as wrestling bears or kicking holes in stone walls, the acolyte gets the Community Support bonus from all onlookers, regardless of whether they are actively assisting him)
Rites & Representations: There is but a single true icon to St Vladimir of the Kremlin, which weeps myrrh and crude oil. Nonetheless, in less holy imagery he is depicted in a range of manly and martial activities. His holy day is the Self-Annunciation, held on 4 March.
Worshippers: He is revered by functionaries, spies, thief-takers, swordsmiths and, of course, all good, loyal citizens of the modern Rus’.
Disadvantages: No worshipper of St Vladimir of Moscow can follow any other saint or deity; it is unthinkable.