RUSSIAN Church, like the other Orthodox churches of the East, had an
apostle for its founder. St. Andrew, the first called of the Twelve,
hailed with his blessing long beforehand the destined introduction of
Christianity into our country; ascending up and penetrating by the
Dnieper into the deserts of Scythia, he planted the first cross on the
hills of Kieff. "See you," said he to his disciples, "these hills? On
these hills shall shine the light of divine grace. There shall be here
a great city, and God shall have in it many churches to his name."
Such are the words of the holy Nestor, the monk
and annalist of the Pechersky monastery, that point from whence
Christian Russia has sprung.
But it was only after an interval of nine
centuries that the rays of divine light beamed upon Russia from the
walls of Byzantium, in which city the same apostle, St. Andrew, had
appointed Stachys to be the first bishop, and so committed, as it
were, to him and to his successors, in the spirit of prescience, the
charge of that wide region in which he had himself preached Christ.
Hence the indissoluble connection of the Russian with the Greek
Church, and the dependence of her metropolitans during six centuries
upon the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, until, with its
consent, she obtained her own equality and independence in that which
was accorded to her native primates.