Martyrs and Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb

Commemorated on July 24

Saints Boris and Gleb were sons of Saint Vladimir (July 15). Saint Boris was named Romanus and Saint Gleb was named David at their Baptism. After their father’s death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris’s land holdings inherited from their father.

Some of Vladimir’s advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. Saint Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.

Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.

Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris’s servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords.

After Sviatopolk had killed Boris, he wondered, “Now how can I kill Gleb?” He sent him a message saying that their father was ill and wished to see him. As he was on his way, he received word from Yaroslav that their father had died and that Sviatopolk had murdered Boris. 

Saint Gleb wept for his father and brother, and was lamenting them when the assassins arrived. They seized his boat and drew their weapons, but it was Gleb’s cook Torchin who stabbed him with a knife. 

The martyr’s body was thrown onto the shore between two trees. Later, he was buried beside Saint Boris in the church of Saint Basil.

Saints Boris and Gleb received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. They became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.

The holy martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb are also commemorated on May 2.

Martyrs and Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb was last modified: November 27th, 2023 by Deacon Kirill