July 24 – Boris and Gleb; Christina of Tyre

Boris and Gleb (d. 1015) were sons of Vladimir, Enlightener of Russia (Jul 15). They were baptized as Romanus and David, but everybody calls them Boris and Gleb because “Gleb” is such a great name. There is some disagreement on whether B&G had the same mother, but that doesn’t matter as they loved each other like brothers. Well, not like their brother Svyatopolk, as you’ll see. Boris was slated to rule Kiev (also Anglicized as Kyiv, especially in Ukraine, the current and long-time home of Kyiv), but was out of town when Vladimir exited the stage. He came home to find Svyatopolk had had himself crowned in his absence (Boris’ absence, not Svyatopolk’s). “Well, okay, I’d rather not fight about it,” said Boris, and stepped aside (figuratively). Svyasha was not satisfied with that, however, and sent, as assassins, “Putscha and the Boyars of Vyshegorod” (which would be a killer name for a rock band). They arrived to find Boris praying, and, not wanting to have the murder of a praying man on their consciences, waited until he was asleep to stab him multiple times and send him in a bag to Kyiv. When the Varangians in town (all of them) heard sounds of breathing coming from the bag, they poked it with a lance to put Boris out of his misery.

Gleb meanwhile was elsewhere, so Svyasha sent subterfugeous word calling him to the sickbed of their father (who was already dead). Gleb rushed to Kyiv, where his brother Yaroslav told him about Boris’s murder and urged him to flee. Gleb went back to his ship to pray, and was there accosted by the assassins, and murdered by his own cook (which leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth).

Boris and Gleb were buried in the Church of St. Basil in Vyshgorod (then moved to a church dedicated just to them), and are regarded as “passion bearers*,” because although they were not murdered for their faith (the first check-box on the martyrdom qualification form), they accepted their deaths with Christian sang-froid.

Christina of Tyre (III Cent.) is often mistaken for Christina of Bolsena, or was Christina of Bolsena, or has often had Christina of Bolsena mistaken for her. You could do worse.

She was the daughter of governor Urbanus of Tyre, who had her locked at age twelve in either a tower or a pagan temple, because of her great beauty. There she pined away, looking out the windows and admiring the beauty of the world (which in Tyre takes a good bit of imagination). As she stood there, an angel appeared and told her all about the one true God, Jesus, the saints, and suchlike, and steeled her (or, given the era, bronzed her) for her coming martyrdom. In one source a priest was somehow smuggled in to baptize her.

Having made up her mind to abandon the gods, she destroyed all the idols in her tower/temple, which first confused then enraged her Papa (a little). After he was done hitting her himself, he had her tossed in the dungeon, where she underwent various tortures, including (depending on your source) being rotisseried above a fire on a giant wheel. Needless to say she survived them all, and an angel appeared to her at night, healing her wounds and bringing her a morsel to eat (hopefully not rotisseried). Somewhere in there her mother implored her to abandon Christ and worship the gods, but to no avail.

She was then tied to a rock and sent to Davy Jones (or his third century equivalent), but the aforementioned angel untied her, and she swam back to Dad. That night Urbanus was struck dead, and his successor Dion (sans Belmonts) had her tortured again and sent to prison, where she was visited by multitudes and converted over 300 of them to the faith. The next governor (dunno what became of Dion) tossed her into a burning fiery furnace for five days, and, when she emerged no worse for wear, had her beheaded.