Hagiography. Biographies, tales, and legends about saints, including accounts of miracles performed by them, particular episodes from their lives, and their martyrdom. These writings are among the most important monuments of old Ukrainian literature. By the 11th century there were already many translations of Greek and Latin hagiographic writings, individual lives of saints such as the Pannonian Lives of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, the Czech lives of Saint Václav and Saint Ludmila, and the Moravian Life of Saint Vitus; patericons (collections of episodes from lives of monks) such as the Patericon of Sinai, of Jerusalem, and of Rome (a redaction of Pope Gregory the Great's Dialogues); reading menologies (collections of lives and sermons arranged according to the church calendar, not for liturgical use but for daily reading); and prologues or synaxaries (collections similar to menologies but with abridged lives). Original works written in Ukraine include the Lives of Saints Borys and Hlib (Chtenie) and the Life of Saint Theodosius of the Caves, both by Nestor the Chronicler (end of the 11th century), the beautifully composed Skazaniie i strast’ i pokhvala sviatuiu muchenyku Borysa i Hliba (The Tale and Passion and Glorification of the Holy Martyrs Borys and Hlib), and the Life of Prince Mstyslav I Volodymyrovych. The lives of Saint Volodymyr the Great, Saint Princess Olha, Mykhail Vsevolodovych of Chernihiv, and Boyar Fedir have come down to us only in later redactions. Fragments of the Life of the Varangians Slaughtered by Pagans in Kyiv, the Life of Saint Anthony of the Caves, and the Life of Prince Ihor Olhovych have been preserved in the chronicles. The Kyivan Cave Patericon, consisting of the correspondence between monk Simon and monk Polikarp (1215–25) and several tales by Polikarp (1223–33), is an important monument of hagiographic literature.
Because of Western European and Polish influence, there was a revival of hagiographic literature in the 17th century. A new redaction of a two-volume prologue with versed epigrams, a Polish and a Ukrainian Church Slavonic edition of the Kyivan Cave Patericon, Atanasii Kalnofoisky's Teraturgema, and lives of Uniate saints, mostly in Latin, were published. Petro Mohyla collected tales of a hagiographic nature that remained unpublished. Some of his material was used by Innokentii Gizel and Varlaam Yasynsky. Dymytrii Tuptalo's reading menology based on Slavonic and Latin literature as well as some new manuscript sources is a masterpiece of Ukrainian hagiographic literature. This work influenced the literatures of all Orthodox Slavs. In the 18th–20th centuries lives of saints assumed an official character. This is true of the lives of Saint Dymytrii (Tuptalo), Saint Tikhon Zadonsky, Saint Innocent of Irkutsk, and Yoasaf Horlenko. Lives of saints are an important auxiliary source for the history of Ukraine.
Kliuchevskii, V. Drevnerusskie zhitiia sviatykh kak istoricheskii istochnik (Moscow 1871)
Barsukov, N.P. Istochniki russkoi agiografii (Saint Petersburg 1882)
Hrushevs’kyi, M. Istoriia ukraïns’koï literatury, vols 2–3 (Kyiv–Lviv 1923; 2nd edn, New York 1959)
Dublians’kyi, A. Ukraïns’ki sviati (Munich 1962)
Hollingsworth, P. (trans and intro). The Hagiography of Kievan Rus’ (Cambridge, Mass 1992)
Dmytro Chyzhevsky, Arkadii Zhukovsky
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine