Patrons and instructors. Veneration of saints in Russia and Russian saints.
If, as the Lord has said, heaven rejoices at the salvation of a single repentant sinner, then how much greater is heaven’s joy at those holy men whose lives resemble those of angels and are worthy to inherit their glory? Here, on earth, they cared not for the flesh; like incorporeal beings they disdained all things earthly, holding the affairs of the world of no repute for the sole aim of attaining Christ. He alone did they love, to his love alone were they bound, and to his will alone did they submit themselves, that they might through him become nearer to God. For their efforts he rewarded them here on earth with the gift of wonders and shall exalt them in the world to come with indescribable glory.
Kiev Caves Patericon
Testimonies of true Christian perseverance, reflected in the feats of saints, served as models for many generations of Russian people, who, since Medieval times, were inspired to follow in their path. This can be illustrated by the story of Sts. Boris and Gleb, princes and martyrs, who were the first to be canonized in Russia. The exhibition includes several icons depicting them, and their earliest illustrated Life, which has come down to us as part of the so-called "Sylvestrovski Collection" of the second half of the fourteenth century.
Russian people prayed before the images of their holy patrons, in honor of which they were baptized; they expected to be healed by renowned wonder-workers; they asked for divine help from those saints who were believed to be most efficient in a specific field. Veneration of saints was an important part of everyday life in early Russia, and led to the appearance of an enormous number of their images in various arts and genres.