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Nguyen 1

Br. Paul M. Nguyen, OMV


Medieval Church History, Orlando
October 7, 21!
On the Po"er o# Beauty in the Conversion o# the Vi$ings
%t is a "onder#ul tale o# &rovidence by "hich the 'erciless Vi$ings beca'e Christians(
the seed o# beauty having been &lanted, Vladi'ir)s o"n #ighting &ride and a t"o*#old 'iraculous
intervention &reci&itated the conversion o# his &eo&le.
%t is re'ar$able that in Vladi'ir)s survey o# religions, his o##icers rated the +er'anic and
Bulgar religions too coarse and obscene, but 'arveled at the beauty o# the +ree$ ,Christian-
rites. Pagans a'ong &agans, the .ussians "ere disgusted. /hen they reached the +ree$ Church,
ho"ever, they "ere 'et "ith ornate robes, incense, chant, and the elaborate hierarchical
e0&ression o# #aith there.
1
,The Russian Primary Chronicle, 2-. 1ndoubtedly, the hos&itality the
.ussian a'bassadors received there i'&ressed the', along "ith the beauty and the as&ects o#
transcendence in the liturgy, but neither Vladi'ir nor his o##icers see'ed ready to convert. %t is
re'ar$able that Vladi'ir re'e'bered the religion o# the +ree$s the #ollo"ing year during his
siege o# the city o# 2herson, and u&on recei&t o# a 'essage #ro' "ithin, &ro'ised his conversion
in return #or a victory over the city.
2
%t is &erha&s notable that the source o# that 'essage "as
na'ed 3.esurrection.4 5hat #irst 'iracle "as ecli&sed by the ne0t, the restoration o# Vladi'ir)s
eyesight at his ba&tis'.
6
5he stro$es o# &rovidence continue "ith his 'arriage to 7nna, "hose
na'e 'eans 3grace.4 8ogically ,and indeed, ho" good it is that things ha&&ened this "ay-, the
conversion o# the leader "as sealed by the conversion o# his &eo&le and the si'ultaneous
destruction o# the idols in their land, together "ith the construction o# Christian churches.
!
1 35he Christianisation o# .ussia,4 The Russian Primary Chronicle, &ara 2.
2 %bid., &ara 6.
6 %bid., &ara 9.
! %bid., &ara :*;.
Nguyen 2
Vladi'ir "as "illing to give the +ree$ religion a chance. <or a 3barbaric4 &eo&le
accusto'ed to #le0ing the 'uscle o# its #leet and ar'ies, he "as see'ingly unusually in=uisitive
and interested in the cultures he encountered. He detected nothing re&ulsive in the +ree$s)
&ractices, and it see's that he had studied Christian doctrine and li$e"ise #ound it agreeable.
9

5his o&en dis&osition led hi' to the true +od. His ne" &olicies o# instruction in the Christian
religion see' to re#lect his o"n e0&erience o# co'ing to the #aith> na'ely, that he #irst heard o#
it, then tested it in his o"n li#e, and #inally e'braced it and brought others to it. 5he end o# the
account contains his &rayer o# than$sgiving and e0&ressed desire #or all the &eo&le to eventually
co'e to the Christian religion ,beginning "ith the children, a sign o# ho&e-, seeing in their
conversion the #ul#ill'ent o# &ro&hetic te0ts #ro' %saiah and ?0odus, see'ingly ac$no"ledging
that he had #ound in Christianity a better li#e #or his &eo&le.
@
9 c#. %bid., &ara !.
@ %bid., &ara 1.