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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia

Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia (Feast Day - October 10)

On this day, we commemorate the Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia — one of the most ancient domains of Christian Rus’, and now part of western Ukraine.

Volhynia was once part of what the Russian chronicles call “Chervonnaya Rus”, which means literally “Red Russia”, brought to the Orthodox Christian faith in the time of Grand Prince Vladimir. Ravaged by Mongol Hordes, occupied by Poland-Lithuania, absorbed back into the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great, Volhynia returned briefly to Poland after World War I and then became part of the Soviet Union after World War II.

Despite its turbulent history, Volhynia is today largely Orthodox Christian. At the region’s Orthodox heart is one of the most revered monasteries of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodoxy, the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra.

After 1720, Pochaev Monastery was given to Greek Catholic Basilian monks. In 1795, as a result of the Third Partition of Poland, Volhynia became a part of the Russian Empire. Although a reversion of Greek Catholics to Russian Orthodoxy began, the Russian Imperial authorities did not immediately push this to confiscate the property of those who chose not to do so. Moreover, the typography and religious schools in the monastery continued to use Latin whilst the main language of communication was Polish. Nevertheless, the first Russophilic tendencies demonstrated themselves at that time. Within thirty years of the division of Poland, the Orthodox Bishop of Volhynia, Stephan, wrote to Emperor Alexander I seeking to have the Pochaev Monastery turned over to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1823, but his request was initially overruled. However it was only nine years later, in 1831, after the Greek-Catholic support for the November Uprising, that Nicholas I of Russia ordered the monastery be given to the adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church; the monastery was reconsecrated as an Orthodox entity under the communion of the Moscovite Patriarchy on 10 October of that year (thereby ending 110 years of Greek-Catholic monastic life). The reunification to Orthodoxy of the Pochaev Monastery to Orthodoxy is the origin for the Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia.


Many saints and righteous ones have come from Volhynia, but those commemorated by name on the feast of the Synaxis are:

Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (October 10)

Saint Job of Pochaev (August 28, October 28)

Saint Juliana Olshanskaya (July 6)

Saint Macarius of Kanev (May 13, September 7)

Saint Stephen, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (April 27)

Saint Theodore (Theodosius, in monasticism) (August 11)

Saint Yaropolk, prince of Vladimir, Volhynia (November 22)

On July 20, 2012, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate decided to include in the synaxis the names of 18 newly-glorified martyrs and Saint Peter Mogila.


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