The Ukrainian community in Halifax, together with Ukrainians throughout the world celebrated the Christianisation and the birth of their nation 1025 years ago.
In 988 Volodomyr the Great, ruler of the Ancient state of Ukraine Rus, accepted Christianity as the state religion. He had himself and the people publicly baptised in the river Dnipro. By rejecting paganism he united the various tribal principalities and consolidated his power and created the Ukrainian nation.
Ukraine Kyiv Rus, which had existed for centuries now became a significant player in Europe and on par with the powerful Byzantium Empire. Byzantium influenced Ukraine’s spirituality, literature, art, architecture and society as a whole flourished. Under Volodomyr the Great, Ukraine became an example of how a state should be run. Ukraine Kyiv Rus became a powerful European trading centre which continued until its eventual destruction by the Mongol hordes.
In Halifax, the local community celebrated Volodomyr’s act by re- dedicating their parish church and commemorative plaques. The service was carried out by the Reverend Onatsko, former parish priest, who had returned from Ukraine for the event. In Ukraine the event had been marked by various ecumenical celebrations. In particular, the highlight was the opening of a newly built cathedral overlooking the river Dnipro.
Most Ukrainians will be hoping that the current Government of Ukraine will be inspired by Volodomyr’s actions 1025 years ago. They would like to see a modern nation that is free of endemic corruption, upholds democracy and civil liberties and aspires to the moral values taught by Volodomyr the Great and his descendants. However, they may be expecting a miracle!