The early Christians, who took in the era of persecution, cruel death for their faith, there were many of those who served in the Roman army in all the edges of a vast empire. Military leaders or ordinary soldiers, they shared the fate of many of his contemporaries, fellow believers — people of different nationalities and walks of life, different professions, who refused to betray their beliefs for the sake of life. The names of the most famous of them are preserved in human memory — they were canonized. Some widely revered as the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Being a martyr for the faith of each of the holy warriors in the eyes of any Christian moral is a sample example of the victory of the human spirit over the passions. At the same time they embody the ideal of valor, courage and chivalry. From an early holy warriors enjoyed popular veneration. Folding their lives, sometimes clothed in the legend true life events. In IX-X centuries the cult of holy warriors enjoyed special attention when the Byzantine imperial court. In Byzantium also developed and their iconography, iconography near other saints, but which had, and features. Warriors often depicted the armed, military armor. Often they were mounted.
After the adoption of Christianity the cult of holy warriors in Russia has also acquired a special significance. Many of the princes of Kievan Rus were their names: Yaroslav the Wise at the baptism was named George, and Vsevolod the Big Nest was named in honor of St. Demetrius (on the occasion of the birth of a son and daughter of his patron father Vsevolod — Yuri Dolgoruky — was founded by the city of Dmitrov). Such interest to the holy warrior was not accidental. After the princes — is first of all commanders and valor and courage were to seek to emulate it. At the same time, Prince, bearing the name of the famous saint, hoping for PATH assistance to its patron saint. However, not only in the prince’s circle of these saints were popular. In the popular mind with their images superimposed the old pagan ideas. Holy warrior in the eyes of the simple peasant represented the beginning of the victory of good against evil — many soldiers honored as zmeebortsa and snakes symbolized the forces of evil.
Then there were in Russia and the first images of the holy warriors of the Byzantine model — we see them in the paintings of St. Sophia, the icons in the manuscripts. Sometimes there are some scenes and hagiographic warriors — George’s paintings dedicated to him the chapel of St. Sophia, mines in the frescoes of St. Cyril’s Church of Kiev. In the XIV century on the eve of the Battle of Kulikov holy warriors were depicted in paintings lowercase Novgorod Church of the Savior on Kovalev. Their images are full of generosity and readiness for the feat of arms. In the paintings of the Virgin Nativity Cathedral of the Ferapontov Monastery, created more than a century later, Dionysius, holy warriors depicted on the pillars of the temple, appear graceful, aristocratic refinement and permeated by the Knights of Our Lady of glorifying the fresco cycle. With the advent of the turn of the XIV-XV centuries Russian high iconostasis in the Deesis row often placed the most revered icons warriors — George and Demetrius.
Among the holy warriors of the largest in Russia and revered throughout the Christian world enjoyed George. His name is linked to many legends. Different versions of the life of the saint give different information about it, so that the true biography is almost impossible to imagine. According to legend, George came from a noble kind of Cappadocia, and honor him before to disperse around the world, is born first in Cappadocia. George was subjected refined torture and beheaded. In embodiments of the life of the saint of his tormentor called the Persian king Dadian, the Roman emperor Diocletian. Particularly popular were stories of posthumous miracles of the saint, and above all — the miracle of the serpent. George in the Christian tradition as it has incorporated the features of the holy warriors, presenting a sample of them. That is so, he presented one of the most ancient Russian icons, originating from the St. George’s Monastery near Novgorod. Holy was written in growth in all the splendor of military clothing. The figure is huge and it majestically calm. Its monumental stillness contradicts the face of the saint, written during renovations in the XIV century icons: dark, contrasting with the mobile space, it hits the inspiration and drama.
One of the most popular images of George in the Russian tradition was the «Miracle of the snake.» According to legend, the holy prayer pacified terrible monster — the serpent, who lived around Lasii, whose residents were forced to give him at the mercy of their daughters. On the famous Novgorod icons of the XIV century in the central part we can see a detailed version of this image. Scale dedicated equestrian figure of George seemed to hover on a bright red background. Huge eyes saint watching motionless in the face. Nearby is a king’s daughter named the icon Elisavoy (texts in Greek legends about the «miracle» the girl’s name is not mentioned), a leading tamed the serpent in the city, the towers of which her parents watch. This icon hagiographic: stamps are presented in the holy meal, which he carries with exaggerated nonchalance. The hagiographic icons George and later the traditional full-length image of the scene is often replaced by «the Miracle of the snake.» The abridged version of the iconography of George striking snake spear. It is very rare and just the image of a warrior horse. With the era of Dmitry Donskoy image of Saint George slaying the serpent became the emblem of Moscow. His minted on coins. Under Tsar Feodor Ioannovich such coins were issued specifically distinguished soldiers to wear on your hat or sleeve. Later, the tradition was continued by Catherine II established in the Order of St. George, awarded only for combat exploits.
Close to George in popularity in the Eastern Christian world among the holy warriors can be put Demetrius of Thessalonica. For the commitment to Christianity Demetrius, a Greek of noble descent, and the proconsul of Achaia, in 306, he was stabbed with spears in the presence of Emperor Maximilian in his hometown of Thessaloniki (Solun in Russian). He was considered the patron saint of Thessaloniki: repeatedly when danger threatened the city, according to tradition, was the horse in battle armor, to help residents. From his relics exude myrrh, there are many healings and miracles. Blackboard with the tomb of the saint with his image in 1197 was moved from Thessaloniki to Vladimir. In 1380, Dmitry Donskoy moved it to the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow. At the turn of XVII-XVIII centuries the image has been completely rewritten master Armoury Kirill Ulanov, and as such the icon survived to this day.
Demetrius used a very wide worship in the Byzantine Empire. In one Constantinople, he was devoted to a dozen churches. In Russia, one of the first of these temples was Dmitrov Cathedral in Kiev, built by the son of Yaroslav the Wise, Prince Izyaslav-Dimitri. Later, the cathedral became a part of the buildings of the Monastery, from which come the first Russian Dimitri image — Slate relief and the famous mosaic, now located at the Tretyakov Gallery. The name of the other prince Vsevolod — Dmitry Big Nest linked Dmitrov Cathedral in Vladimir, and a well-known icon of the XII century from the Tretyakov Gallery, derived from Dmitrov, where the saint in the form of a mature man sitting in the crown of martyrdom and military attire on the throne with a truly imperial dignity. At the same time in the Russian tradition can be found in nature and a way of Demetrius, as the Pskov icon of the XV century, where he appears youthful and inspired, holding in his hand a shield patterned.
In addition to the image of the saint, and there was a special iconography, based on one of his posthumous miracles. At the siege of the troops of the king of Thessalonica Koloyan Demetrius was a warrior and turned back the enemy, immediately spear of the king. The icon painter Nikita Pavlovets at one of its icons painted both revered holy warriors in Russia at the time of their miracles. Often in Russian icons miracle Demetrius next to the image of the defeated king can not read the inscription «Koloyan» and «mother». In such a substitution of the name reflected the representation of the people of the crucial role of Demetrius, the patron saint of Prince Dmitry Donskoy in the outcome of the Battle of Kulikov. In memory of this battle Dmitry Donskoy set Dmitrovskaya Saturday, who remember all the fallen soldiers on the field of Kulikovo-Christians (now the so-called «parent», ie the day of remembrance of the dead Orthodox Christians).
Two holy warriors, who wore a name — Fedor and Fedor Stratelates Tyrone — also enjoyed the veneration in Russia, especially in the Novgorod lands. Often, the icons and paintings can be found next to each other. Both are known as zmeebortsa, they were buried in the city of Evhaity. They are portrayed in the form of mature men. A distinctive feature of Theodore was laid curls hair hat (this is a Byzantine mosaic it is the icon from the Hermitage). Theodore, that is, «captain», Evhait born in Asia Minor, he was the governor of Heraclius Pontian. In the year 319 during the reign of the Emperor Licinius it for refusing to sacrifice to the idols after torture was crucified, and then beheaded. The body of his bequest was buried next to the grave of Theodore Tiron in Evhaitah. In Novgorod, Theodore was dedicated to the famous temple on the Creek, painted by unknown followers Theophanes the Greek. In the paintings of this temple were represented not only scenes hagiographic Theodore, and Theodore of Tyrone. Miracle of Theodore of the snake is mentioned in an embodiment of his life — during his lifetime he was a pious woman using Eusebia saved hometown of man and beast devouring a snake. The iconographic tradition of the story yet has not received distribution and exists only as a stigma in hagiographic icons of the saint.
«Tyrone» means «rookie.» Fedor Tyrone, a soldier of one of the regiments of the Eastern Legion, was burned at the stake in the town of Amasya in 306 for refusing to worship idols, and the burning of a pagan temple of Cybele. The remains of the saint were transferred to Evhaity. Orthodox Church in the first week of Lent recall the miracle of Theodore Tyrone kolivo, when the saint appeared in a dream to the patriarch of nectar and warned him that the emperor Julian plotting to desecrate the eve of Lent is dedicated to the sale of food Christians. Since then, there is a tradition of cooking wheat grains kolivo or kutyu. Another notable miracle Theodore Tyrone goes back to apocryphal texts and in contrast to the miracle of the kolivo has created a special iconography, known in Russia since the XIV century. This miracle Theodore Tyron and the Dragon: According to legend, Theodore not only defeated the dragon who lived near the well, which deprived the city of water, but also save a kidnapped monster own mother. All that we see on the small icon of the early XVII century, written Stroganov master Nicephorus Savin. In the icon, designed for long-term viewing and admiring the subtlety of her letters, the master presented several scenes of the story: not once displayed and graceful figure of the saint. In the center, he raises his sword high, scarlet cloak saint shot up behind him. Next he already displays the mother of the defeated monster’s lair, which is in the spirit of the XVII century represented innocuous fabulous creation.
Nikita Warrior was the patron saint of the famous industrialist and connoisseur of icon painting Nikita G. Stroganov. It is in the order of «eminent person» associated with many images of the saint, established at the end of the XVI century. Nikita, Goth by birth, preached Christianity among the tribesmen, for which he was burned in a 372 year-pagan ruler Atanarihom. His body, preserved from the fire, it was found with the help of a Christian Marian wonderful stars and buried at home in Cilicia. By order of Stroganov in 1593 celebrated master Procopius Chirino was written by a small icon of the holy warrior, once part of the former triptych, on the side flaps which were depicted scenes of the life of Nikita. Holy is depicted not as it was decided to write holy warriors before. His image is not the same strength and confidence. The fragile figure presented in humble prayer before the Virgin, depicted in the upper right corner of the icon. That is, in the spirit of change perceptions, images of saints began to be interpreted in a new, so-called «Stroganov» in the direction of the late Russian icon painting XVI-XVII centuries. Long since Nikita warrior depicted in the scene, and the miracle of the devil: for the apocryphal legend Nikita, who was sitting in prison, was the devil tempted Him to worship idols. Nikita beaten and cast forth the devil, for which the people called him «Besogon.» This scene is included, for example, in the image side door of the iconostasis of the XV century from the collection of the Russian Museum.
In a brief sketch is impossible to even briefly describe all of the hosts of heaven Warriors — holy warriors, many of whom had specific variants of iconography and revered in Russia. This Ivan Warrior and Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, Andrew Stratelates and Mercury Caesarea, Mina, Procopius, Varus, be proud of the centurion and others. All of them, as a more or less known, carried the heroic principle is «the perfect image of courage,» were patrons and devotees in the eyes of the Russian people for centuries to realize their ideas about them in the art of icon painting.