Thursday, March 22, 2012

Murderous Saints: St Olga and St Vladimir

Saint Olga was a mass murderer and her grandson, Saint Vladimir, was a rapist and conducted human sacrifices.

Saint Olga entered into the first royal family of Russia with her marriage to Igor, Prince of Kiev. Igor was the heir of Rurik, a Viking mercenary employed by the people of Novgorod. The Vikings fought the Pechenegs and drove them off. Then Rurik decided he liked Novgorod and conquered his former employers and started a dynasty.

Igor Dies at the Hands of the Drevlians

In the year 945, some of the local tribute payers, the Drevlians, rose up against Igor and refused to pay their annual tribute, thereby causing Igor to head to Iskorosten with a large force. The Drevlians reconsidered and paid the tribute to Igor.

On the way home, Igor decided he wanted more tribute and in one of the dumbest moves in history, he went back to Iskorosten alone to demand more money. The astonished Drevlians politely said no, and then murdered the stupid Igor.
Olga Enacts Revenge Against the Drevlians

The Drevlians then embarked on a scheme that proved even more idiotic than Igor’s. The Drevlians sent a team of twenty ambassadors to Kiev to deliver the news of Igor’s death and a proposal of marriage for his widow, Olga.

Olga shrewdly listened to the proposal and told the ambassadors she would consider the proposal overnight. Meanwhile she had her men dig a big ditch beside her fort. The next morning the ambassadors showed up in their best finery and Olga promptly had them thrown in the ditch. As the ambassadors bewailed their predicament, Olga had them buried alive.

Then Olga persuaded the prince of the Drevlians to send his best men to Kiev so she would have an escort to go to her marriage in Iskorosten. The prince sent his men, after all the prince considered Olga to be a beautiful woman and a great catch. Olga trapped all of the prince’s men in a bathhouse and burned them alive.

The prince, beset with a terminal case of stupidity still wanted to marry Olga. She came to his city and during a banquet, her men stayed sober while the Drevlians drank themselves into a stupor. Then Olga’s men killed all the Drevlians. Still not finished Olga later returned with her soldiers and burned Iskorosten to the ground. The few survivors became slaves.

Olga Becomes a Christian

Nine years after her quenching her vengeance, Olga journeyed to Constantinople. History does not give the circumstances, but sometime during her stay, Olga became a Christian. After her baptism, Olga went back home and tried to convert her people to Christianity, alas to no avail. It would be many years later that her grandson, Vladimir would continue her efforts and succeed where Olga failed. Despite her failures, the Ukrainians and Russians venerate Olga, and her title is the “equal to the Apostles,” for her efforts to bring Christianity to her homeland.

Olga’s son, Svyatoslav, rejected Christianity and he died in battle with the old enemy the Pechenegs. The Pechenegs thought so much of Svyatoslav that they chopped his head off and turned his skull into a beer mug. Svyatoslav’s heir, Yaropolk, did not last long as his younger brother, Vladimir, arranged Yaropolk’s murder. Then Vladimir took his brother’s wife into his harem.

The Rise of Vladimir, Grandson of Olga

Vladimir was famous for his harem. The harem consisted of over eight-hundred women, including his sister-in-law. Vladimir’s concubines lived in the major cities of his realm; the women were available for Vladimir wherever his travels took him.

Vladimir built a gigantic temple to placate the gods of the Rus people. He put up images of the Rus gods and the gods of the Turks. Vladimir also engaged in human sacrifice to placate the gods and some of his first sacrifices were Christian soldiers of his own army.

Vladimir Converts to Christianity

The conversion of Vladimir took place because of his marriage to the Byzantine princess, Anna. This solidified the alliance of Vladimir with that of the Byzantine emperor. Although most thought Vladimir’s conversion a political ploy, Vladimir took his conversion to Christianity to heart.

Upon his return to Kiev with his new bride, Vladimir ordered the destruction of the temple he had built. Next, he ordered the construction of churches throughout his realm, abolished his harem, and outlawed the death penalty. Impressed by his sincerity, the Rus people rapidly adopted Christianity. Together with his grandmother Olga, Vladimir is revered for bringing the Christian faith to the peoples of the Ukraine and Russia.


Catholic Online

Craughwell, Thomas J., Saints Behaving Badly, Untied States, Doubleday, 2006

Do Catholics Worship Mary?

Apr 2, 2008
Francine Morrissette
To worship Mary would be a grave sin, because worship is reserved for God alone. So why do Catholics pray to Mary and venerate statues of her?

Catholics venerate, or honor, Mary in prayer and song. Some people mistake prayer and veneration for worship, but to Catholics, they aren‘t the same thing. Prayer is simply entering into communication with a holy spirit. Veneration is giving special honor to a saint. Worship is for God alone, and Catholics worship only God through the mass.

Does the Bible Say to Honor Mary?

Critics of Marion devotion say that the Bible doesn’t say to honor Mary, and therefore it shouldn’t be done. However, in Luke’s gospel, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth said “Blessed are you among women” and Mary acknowledges this blessing by saying “all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Both women realized that Mary was uniquely blessed because she was entrusted with the honor of carrying God-in-human-form, Jesus Christ, in her womb. She alone was chosen for the highest honor in the history of the world. Catholics understand that if she is special enough for God to honor her, then she is certainly special enough for humankind to honor her too.

Why Do Catholics Make Such a Big Deal about Mary?

In a word: Jesus. Catholics make so much of Mary because of her son; the one she conceived, bore, nursed, nurtured, taught, raised, and ultimately suffered for through the unspeakable grief of a mother losing her child. Whereas all the priests, prophets, kings, evangelists, and apostles bore witness to the word, Mary actually bore the Word. This puts her in a class by herself.

How Can Mary Be the Mother of God?

Protestants often object to the Catholic tradition of calling Mary the "Mother of God,” arguing that she is nothing more than the mother of Jesus’ human body. The Church teaches that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine and his two natures cannot be separated. If Mary gave birth to Jesus, she gave birth both parts of him, both the part which is human and the part which is God. Mary gave birth to a divine/human being, one who is completely man and also completely God. Therefore Mary is the "Mother of God."

Why Pray to Mary When You Can Go Directly to Jesus?

All good mothers pray for their children and Mary is no exception. If God is the Father of believers, and Jesus is the brother, then Mary is the spiritual mother of the faithful, and Catholics believe that she is very influential with her son.

Remember, Jesus worked his first miracle at the wedding in Cana (he turned water into wine) at his mother’s request. When Catholics pray to Mary they are asking her to pray to her son on their behalf because according to Tradition (the sacred oral teachings of the Church), her prayers carry a lot of weight with her divine son.

Are There Other Reasons to Honor Mary?

Mary is worth honoring and emulating because she is the ideal example of perfect obedience to God. Knowing that she could be stoned to death for carrying a baby conceived out of wedlock, she still said “yes” to God: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When she said “yes” to God she demonstrated perfect courage, perfect obedience and perfect faith.

Mary is a pillar of strength. She stands, not swoons, at the base of the cross as her son’s life is ripped away. Mary understands human suffering. Her own life was full of suffering: a problem pregnancy, a difficult delivery in a faraway land, a son who was deemed mentally unstable by his own family and was ultimately killed like a common criminal.

Mary bore her suffering with strength, dignity and perfect faith. For these and countless other reasons Catholics worldwide continue to appreciate and venerate Mary.

Do Catholics Worship Mary and Other Saints?

May 22, 2010
Maryalene LaPonsie

Mary is Venerated as the Mother of Jesus - Pierre Mignard
It is a common misconception that Catholics worship saints instead of God. However, Marian and saintly devotions are based upon veneration, not adoration.

Catholic Christians are largely unique in their devotion to saints such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. While many protestant denominations believe that prayer should be focused on God and Jesus alone, Catholicism has a long tradition of prayer and veneration of saints. However, according to official Church teaching, this should not be misinterpreted as anything other than an extension of worship for God.

The Catholic Definition of Prayer and Worship

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Vatican borrows from St. John of Damascus when defining prayer. It says, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” This classical definition of prayer does not limit one to praying solely to God although all prayer should ultimately be focused on Him.

Although the Catechism does not formally define worship, it does discuss adoration. In defining adoration, the Church quotes Jesus’s citation of Deuteronomy, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”

Elsewhere in the Catechism, devotion to Mary is specifically excluded as adoration. In referring to her title “Mother of God,” the Church explains, “This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the Incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, which greatly fosters this adoration.”

Likewise, saints are revered as “masters of prayer” but excluded from the adoration that is reserved only for God. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, prayer to saints is listed as a degree of worship, but only in that it is dependent on God’s love and mercy.

Catholic Customs and Saintly Intercession

Modern Catholic customs often involve the veneration of Mary and saints. Again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically states that veneration is not to be confused with adoration. Although Catholics honor Mary and the saints, this should not imply that they believe these individuals have equal standing with God.

Protestant Christians often object to Catholic prayers of intercession to saints, in which an individual will ask a saint to grant them a certain favor. However, in Catholic custom, these prayers are considered no different than asking a friend or neighbor to extend prayers on someone’s behalf.

Since saints are believed to be in heaven, Catholics call on these individuals as people who are closest to God. The belief is not that the saint will grant the request him or herself, but that they will be able to intercede on the petitioner’s behalf to God. While critics argue that individuals can go directly to God with their concerns, many Catholics find comfort in speaking to someone with whom they can closely relate.

An analogy to this type of intercessor may be when someone needs to request a favor from another. If they are not sure how to go about approaching the person, they might seek out one of the person’s close friends and ask for assistance in the matter. So too is the relationship between humans, saintly intercessors and God.

Although the terms adoration, worship and veneration may be used interchangeably by lay people nowadays, the Catholic Church maintains a separate understanding of each. While Catholics do pray and venerate Mary and the saints, this type of worship is far different from the adoration afforded to God.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

Cabrol, F. (1912). Christian Worship. In the Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 22, 2010 from New Advent