Saints Boris and Gelb on a Boat

Illustration by Ivan Bilibin



This wonderful illustration by Bilibin depicts two Russian saints, two Princes of Kiev, Boris and Gleb. Martyred by their

elder half-brother, Svyatopolk, the two Princes were the sons of Vladimir, also a Prince of Kiev, and who was himself,

great-grandson of Rurik, the traditional Viking founder of the Russian state.


Following a coup-d'état led by Svyatopolk, Vladimir had been martyred and upon returning from an expedition against

the Pechenegs, Boris learned of his elder brother's plans to exterminate his filial rivals. When met by the assassins dispatched

by Svyatopolk, Boris forbade his soldiers from fighting for him and instead, sent his retinue away and awaited his killers

with prayer - he was martyred by the river Alta by spear and sword.


Shortly afterwards, Gleb was summoned to Kiev and was surprised by his murderers on his boat. Initially, Gleb argued for

his life to be spared, but with time, he voluntarily submitted to his fate.


Prayers attributed to the two martyred brothers include a request for forgiveness for Svyatopolk, voluntary acceptance of

an unjust death in imitation of Christ's passion and acknowledgement of Christ's prophecy that his followers would be

betrayed by kinsmen and friends.


Some years after their deaths, the bodies of Boris and Gleb were translated - reputedly incorrupt - to the church of St Basil

at Vyshgorod. Soon thereafter, miracles were attributed to the martyrs and pilgrimages followed. In 1724, the Catholic

Church recognised the brothers as saints when they were canonized by Pope Benedict XIII.



Full Image

Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Price: US$5.00

Detail (for reference)

Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

Code: IB SBGB C1 12x18
Price: US$60.00

Reproduction on 18x24" sheet

Code: IB SBGB C1 18x24
Price: US$160.00