1000th Anniversary of St. Sophia of Kyiv

1000th Anniversary of St. Sophia of Kyiv
 
     In 2011, the international community will mark the 1000th anniversary of St. Sophia of Kyiv. It was a decision of the 35th Session of UNESCO's General Conference (6 to 23 October). This date contradicts the chronicles, which mention the foundation of St. Sophia both under the year of 1017 and the year of 1037, but nevertheless, it has serious grounds. The tendentious annalistic records written in the times of Yaroslav differ against each other in twenty years, because they do not document historical evidence and only reflect the attemts to coincide the creation of St. Sophia with the reign of Yaroslav the Wise. Therefore, the annalistic dates are artificially "time-tagged" to the main milestones of Yaroslav's reign in Kyiv: his appearance there at the end of 1016 from Novgorod and turning into autocrat of Rus after the death of his brother Mstyslav and imprisonment of his second brother Sudyslav. In other words, the contradictory annalistic records concerning the time of St. Sophia foundation preserved in the lists of the 13th – 15th centuries are inaccurate. Not in vain, a scholarly dispute as to them has been lasting for two centuries and came to a dead-lock long ago.
 
      The most reliable data for solution to this problem holds St. Sophia itself, in particular unofficial inscriptions-graffito on its walls. Of special value are graffito, in which the dates of their inscription are specified. The discovered on the frescoes in different parts of the cathedral inscriptions-graffito dated back to 1018-1021, 1019, 1022, 1028, 1033 (three inscriptions) and 1036, cross out the year of 1017, as the time of foundation or even completion of St. Sophia. They also cross out the year of 1017, because they incontrovertibly testify to the fact that by 1018- 1021, the cathedral had been erected and decorated with paintings. In comparison with the days of St. Sophia dedication that have been preserved in the church calendar, the graffito enable to date the foundation (dedication) of the church of St. Sophia the Holy Wisdom on Sunday, November 4, 1011 (November 17, according to Gregorian Calendar) and its completion (dedication-inaguration) on Sunday, the May 11 (24), 1018. On those dates of all others, there were Dominical (the Lord's) days and only on those days St. Sophia Cathedral (the Lord's House) could be dedicated. In other words, the foundation of the cathedral was laid and almost completed by Volodymyr baptizer of Rus (980 – 1015) and accomplished by his son Yaroslav. 
        Such dating confirm field observations of St. Sophia, on which the fact of its customer change was reflected. These are architectural and mural corrections made in the newly erected church at the stage of completion of fresco painting. It is proved by laboratory research that compositionally a fresco plaster and glazed slabs of the floor the Church of the Tithes and St. Sophia are completely identical.  However, St. George and St. Irene Churches, which were later erected by Yaroslav differ markedly from St. Sophia in these characteristics. 
       In mosaics and frescoes of St. Sophia, large and gradual glorification of customers of the cathedral Volodymyr and Anna baptizers of Rus is traced. The most significantly this tendency had impact on secular frescoes, namely a princely group portrait in the nave and painting of the staircase towers that lead to the princely loft. The princely portrait was usually defined as a portrayal of the family of Yaroslav the Wise. But one should not regard this fresco as the portrait of Yaroslav's family, because it doesn't coordinate with the dates of the abovementioned graffito, considering that elder children of the prince are depicted in the fresco as grown-ups,  whereas Yaroslav's elder sons and daughters were born from 1020 till 1032. The hypothesis that in secular frescoes of the staircase towers there is a portrayal of princess Olha's visit to Constantinople is also out-of-date, as it contradicts the content of the subject of frescoes, medieval mental and ritual norms and iconographic canons. Actually, the princely portrait depicts the family of Volodymyr and Anna and the frescoes of towers demonstrate the conclusion of their dynastic marriage that initiated the baptism of Rus. In religious subjects, Volodymyr and Anna are glorified via symbolic prototypes, namely the saints that were either their heavenly patrons or whose deeds were repeated by a princely married couple. 
      All these research results are confirmed by the data of non-annalistic sources. The contemporary of St. Sophia construction, the Metropolitan Hilarion affirms that in this affair Yaroslav has completed Volodymyr's deeds like Solomon accomplished David's undertaking in the creation of the Temple of Jerusalem. In the chronicle of German bishop Thietmar of Merseburg, written before 1018, St. Sophia is mentioned as a functional residence of Kyivan metropolitan already under the years of 1017 – 1018. The notes of foreigners Martin Gruneweg and Erich Lassota von Steblau, who visited St. Sophia at the end of the 16th century testified that tradition to associate its creation with activity of Volodymyr, whom they considered to be the constructor of St. Sophia, existed in Kyiv until early modern period. In the published Latin document from papal archive, dated back to 1595, it is affirmed that namely Volodymyr founded and endowed Kyivan Metropolitanate. The year of 1011, as the time of foundation of the cathedral was mentioned in its two main inscriptions – title (above the entrance) that appeared at the end of the 16th – beginning of the 17th c. and dedicatory (on the arches of the central dome) executed in 1640, by order of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, who had control over the data of St. Sophia archive that burnt in 1697. The picture of Mohyla's dedicatory inscription with the date of 1011, taken by the restorers in the middle of the 20th century was recently discovered in the archive of the Preserve and published. Even in the 18th century, the year of 1011 was officially recognized as the date of St. Sophia foundation, according to published statistical "The Descriptions of Kyivan Eparchy" of the 70s – 80s of the 18th century.  The year of 1011, as the time of St. Sophia foundation is specified by the clerk Yakov in the manuscript composed by him approximately in 1770 that remains deposited in the Central State Historical Archive in Kyiv.
     Thus, «date of birth» of St. Sophia of Kyiv in 1011, is oficially recognized by our ancestors. It is also a historical evidence proved by modern science, reliability of which testifies the cathedral itself.