THE LEGENDARY RUSSIAN WARRIORS – The Story of Iliya Moorometz
Iliya Moorometz – or Iliya of the city of Moorom. He is the most well-known and loved warrior of ancient Russia, famous for his incredible strength, fighting skill, unique life story, kindness and righteousness, the qualities that brought him many victories over the attackers of Russia and over the forces of evil.
The big painting you may have seen at our school is called “The Three Warriors”.
He is the one in the middle of the picture.
Iliya’s assistants in many battles:
Dobrinya Nikitich – on his right hand,
Alesha Popovich – on his left side
The history of the righteous Russian warriors begins in the year 998. Until that time paganism was the religion of the people. Prince Vladimir, initially a cruel and aggressive pagan follower, became the first Russian ruler who accepted Christianity. He married the Christian orthodox princess Anna of Greece, got christened himself with his 12 sons, then his boyars (the rich people around him) got christened as well. Prince Vladimir then invited 6 Greek bishops, Metropolitan, and numerous priests to come to his capital city – Kiev at that time – to get all the Russian people christened too.
On a set day in 998 Prince Vladimir ordered for all the residents of Kiev, many thousands of people, to come to the river Dnepr, and the Greek clergy performed the sacrament of christening, forever blessing the people of Russia to carry God in their hearts.
Prince Vladimir changed himself greatly, he became kind and generous. Poor people of the country could come to his palace any time and receive food, clothing and money. Big carts were filled with bread, meat, fish, vegetables, honey and kvas (the Russian beverage) and sent to towns and villages for the poor and sick that could not walk themselves. People loved their Prince and called him “The Red Sun”.
(The word ‘red’ in Russian also means beautiful).
Christian faith then quickly spread throughout Russia. Thousands of churches and monasteries were build, and along with them, schools and hospitals. Literacy, Art and the Russian culture began to develop as well.
To confirm his faith and policies, Prince Vladimir had each of his 12 sons become the ruler of each of the 12 great cities of the Russian land. The youngest son, count Gleb was given the city of Moorom.
In 1015 Prince Vladimir died. His stepson Sviatopolk conquered his capital city Kiev. Sviatopolk decided to kill all his 12 stepbrothers, including the very young count Gleb. Gleb begged the killers to spare him, but when he saw that they would not listen, he kneeled and humbly accepted his death. Gleb was one of the first Russian martyrs.
About 100 years later, in a village by the same city of Moorom, a miracle-boy, and the future mighty warrior was born to his peasant parents. One day while he was still a baby in the crib, his father was working in the field and his mother washing clothing in the river, a terrible storm happened in the area. The door of Iliya’s house was open and the black storm cloud got inside. As his mother ran into the house, the black cloud rushed out and she found the baby was lying on the floor near his crib alive but all white and motionless. According to the legend, this was the spirit of evil trying to kill his future opponent.
From that day Iliya became unable to use his legs, and had only very light use of his arms. He grew up and only sat on the bench inside the house by the door, staring wistfully into the floor.