If you knew nothing about our church, would this history make you understand or make you more confused? I’m worried that it sounds like a gnostic group claiming patrimony with an underground church no one has ever heard of. I would like to think that most people will recognize Byzantium, but I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption. Anyone have advice?
Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church History
After Pentecost, the apostles spread across what is now Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and India as they shared the Good News of Jesus Christ’s life-giving death and resurrection. The Apostle Andrew established the Church in Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul) in A.D. 38.
In A.D. 987, the Great Prince Volodymyr of the Rus’ (near modern-day Ukraine) sent out emissaries to find true religion and bring it back to his people. They went east and west, north and south, and it was when they arrived in Constantinople that they discovered the Byzantine liturgy.
They returned to Kyiv and reported to the Prince what they saw in the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia. “…Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here.”
The great prince was baptized into the Church and the entire land followed. The people of the Rus’ have maintained their Byzantine traditions and Catholic communion as they’ve spread the Good News around the globe. We join Catholic Christians in Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Canada, and Italy who trace their Christian patrimony not back through Latin Rome, but back to Kyivan-Rus, and from there to Byzantine Constantinople, then to Jerusalem and Christ.