The holy righteous prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich (born in 1138, baptized Gavriil) was a Pskovian saint and wonderworker. He was the son of Kievan Prince Mstislav (Feodor) Vladimiovich and daughter of the Swedish king Christian, the senior grandson of the Grand Prince Vladimir (Vasily) Monomakh. Vsevolod Mstislavovich reigned in Veliky Novgorod in 1117–1132 and 1132–1136 and in Pskov in 1137–1138.
Vladimir Monomakh, the grandfather of Vsevolod Mstislavovich, united Russian lands by governing isolated principalities through his sons and relatives. He sought to assert the power of his elder son Mstislav and his sons Vsevolod and Izyaslav as Kievan and Novgorodian princes. But Yury Dolgoruky, the younger son of Vladimir Monomakh, entered the struggle for the Kievan throne thus sparking feudal wars. “The Rus lands fell apart”, as one chronicles put it.
In their struggle for power Vsevolod and Izyaslav relied on the Novgorodians which allowed the Novgorodian Boyars to weaken the princely authority in Veliky Novgorod. In 1136, the Novgorodians drove Vsevolod Mstislavovich out of town with the help of the citizens of Lagoda and Pskov. Vsevolod’s uncle, Kievan Prince Yaropolk Vladimirovich appointed him the governor of Vyshgorod. In 1137, Vsevolod Mstislavovich attempted to come back to Novgorod after his supporters secretly invited the Prince to take the Novgorodian throne. He arrived in Pskov but his enemies did not allow him to return.
Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich died in 1138 in Pskov and was buried in the Trinity Cathedral he had built himself. Apart from the Trinity Cathedral in Pskov, Vsevolod Mstislavovich, according to chronicles, founded St. George Cathedral in 1119 at the Yuryevski Monastery, a stone Church of John the Baptist at Petryatin Court (upon Opoki) in 1127, dedicated to his son John, erected two wooden churches on Torg in 1133 in honor of the Mother of God and St. George, and a stone Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God on Torg in 1135.
Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich was venerated as the patron of the city as was Prince Daumantas (baptized Timophei) who ruled Pskov during 1266 – 1299. Since the 14th century, historical chronicles indicate that the Pskovians appealed to the saints with a prayer when facing a war threat. In the mid-16th century a Pskovian priest named Vasily compiled the Life of Prince Vsevolod and the Tale of the discovery of his relics and the wonders they worked.
In medieval Russian art the holy righteous Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich is commonly depicted as a middle-aged man with dark hair and a long beard wearing princely clothes. The earliest surviving images of the Prince are found on a miniature of the late 15th century Radziwill Chronicle depicting him in the enthronement scene at Veliki Novgorod. In iconography Vsevolod Mstislavovich is commonly depicted holding the Trinity Cathedral. This iconography is derived from the tomb icon of the saint from the Trinity Cathedral, placed by deacon Yury (Sophronius) Sidorov in 1563 (lost after 1917). The earliest known images of the saint were created in the 16th century such as The Righteous Prince Vsevolod (Gavriil) from the Kolomenskoe Museum collections. The saint is also shown with a cross or arms in hands, such as on an icon of the third-quarter of the 16th century from the Tolyatti Museum of Art.
The Holy righteous Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich is commemorated on February 24 (February 11, O.S.), on December 10 (November 27, O.S.), on May 5 (April 22, O.S.) and in the third week after the Pentecost – on the day of the Synaxis of the Pskovian saints.
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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