March 4 is observed in honor of the Holy Blessed Prince Yaroslav the Wise

March 4 is observed in honor of the Holy Blessed Prince Yaroslav the Wise

On March 4, 2020, the Orthodox Church commemorates the day of the Holy Blessed Prince Yaroslav the Wise.


Yaroslav the Wise is the Grand Prince of Kyiv (1016-1018 years, 1019-1054 years), Prince of Rostov (988-1010 years) and Novgorod (1010-1034 years), the son of Kyiv Prince Volodymyr Svyatoslavych from the Polotsk Princess Rogneda. According to chronicle data, he was born in 978 or 979. By his father’s order, in 988 he became a governor of Rostov. After the death of his older brother Vysheslav he transferred to Novgorod. In 1014 he tried to become independent from Kyiv and refused to pay his father a tribute (Volodymyr was preparing a march to Novgorod, but died on July 15, 1015). He took part in the prince’s strife for power with his brothers, in which Borys, Glib and Sviatoslav were killed. In 1019 he defeated the Prince of Kiyv Svyatopolk on the Alta. Yaroslav made an agreement with his brother Mstyslav, dividing the Russian land on the Dnieper in 1026. Yaroslav received Kyiv with the Right Bank, and Mstyslav – Chernihiv with the Left Bank. After the death of Mstyslav (1036), he became a sole ruler of Rus.

He made a lot of efforts to strengthen the state. In 1036, he destroyed and permanently rejected the armies of Pechenegs from Kyiv. In the early 1030’s he conquered in Poland the Cherven Cities and Belz district. Yaroslav made successful campaigns against Yotvingians and Lithuanians. He extended the boundaries of medieval Kyiv, erecting the “city of Yaroslav”, the decoration of which was the Golden Gate and St. Sophia Cathedral. In doing so, he completed the grandiose construction work initiated by his father. He founded the first monasteries in Kyiv – St. George, St. Iryna (patronal) and Kyiv-Pechersk. He created at St. Sophia Cathedral the first known library in Rus with scriptorium – a workshop where books were translated and copied. He began the drafting of the first chronicle of 1037-1039 and the first written code of law – “Rus’ka Pravda.” In 1051, in St. Sophia Cathedral, he set up on his own will (without Constantinople’s sanction) the Kyiv Metropolitan “Rusyn” Hilarion.

Yaroslav the Wise had a large family. In 1019, he married the daughter of the Swedish King Olaf Shetkonung – Ingigerd (christened Iryna). Yaroslav and Ingigerd had nine children: Volodymyr, Izyaslav, Svyatoslav, Vsevolod, Vyacheslav, Igor, Anastasia, Elizabeth, Anna. He arranged dynastic relations of his descendants with many representatives of European rulers. Anastasia became a queen of Hungary, Elizabeth –  of Norway, Anna – of France. Yaroslav was a father, grandfather and uncle of many rulers of Europe. Yaroslav was nicknamed “the Wise” for numerous reforms and achievements that had a positive impact on the development of Rus. He died in Vyshgorod, was buried in St. Sophia Cathedral. In the Orthodox Church he is glorified as Holy Blessed. The baptizmal name of Yaroslav is George (Yuri); also – Yaroslav-Yuri Volodymyrovych.

N. Nikitenko