cathedral of st. sophia, kiev
cathedral of st. sophia

If ever there were a golden age for all the Eastern Slavs, it was in Kiev in the eleventh century, the time of Yaroslav the Wise. He lies buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom (St. Sophia) which he built as a great imitation of the cathedral in Constantinople, in which the Eastern Slavs had first been dazzled by the beauty of the Eastern Orthodox worship.


cathedral of st. sophia

The first native bishop, or metropolitan, Ilarion of Kiev, described the transformed new city of Kiev as a city glistening with holy pictures, fragrant with incense, resonating with the beautiful heavenly music and the sounds of praise. Inheriting Orthodoxy as a finished culture from Byzantium, the Eastern Slavs believed their task was now to beautify rather than to analyze the faith.


cathedral of st. sophia

The new Russian converts took special joy in developing a theology basically of pictures rather than of words as in Western Christendom. Yaroslav’s new cathedral in Kiev was filled with shimmering Byzantine—type mosaics.



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