Topic: Nevsky, Alexander
On December 6 the Russian Orthodox Church remembers Saint Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky, born in 1219. He was a descendant of Prince Vladimir the Sun, and is considered by the Russian Orthodox Church to be equal to the Apostles.
Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the history of Ancient Rus. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while accepting to pay tribute to the powerful Golden Horde.
The Neva battle of 1240 saved Rus from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North. Because of this battle, 19-year-old Alexander was given the sobriquet "Nevsky" (which means of Neva). This victory, coming just three years after the disastrous Mongol invasion of Rus, strengthened Nevsky’s political influence, but at the same time it worsened his relations with the boyars. He would soon have to leave Novgorod because of this conflict.
After Pskov had been invaded by the crusading Livonian Knights, the Novgorod authorities sent for Alexander. In spring of 1241 he returned from his exile, gathered an army, and drove out the invaders. Alexander and his men faced the Livonian heavy cavalry led by the master of the Order, Hermann, brother of Albert of Buxhoeveden. Nevsky faced the enemy on the ice of the Lake Peipus (Lake Chud) and defeated the Teutonic Knights during the Battle of the Ice on April 5, 1242.
In the late 13th century, a chronicle was compiled called the Life of Alexander Nevsky, in which he is depicted as an ideal prince-soldier and defender of Russia.
Veneration of Alexander Nevsky as a saint began soon after his death. The remains of the prince were uncovered in response to a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in the year 1380, and found to be incorrupt. He was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. His principal feast day is November 23 (which falls on December 6 according to the current calendar).
By order of Peter the Great, Nevsky’s relics were transported to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg where they remain to this day. A second feast day was instituted on 30 August in commemoration of this event. He is also commemorated in along with other saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl on May 23.
© Russkiy Mir. 06 December, 2012