Kief or Kiev, the name of the chief town of the government of that name, on the west bank of the Dnieper, one of the oldest of the Russian towns, and formerly the capital (containing 60,000 inhabitants, with a university and a theological school), was in 864 taken from the Khazars by two Norman chiefs, companions of Ruric, and conquered from them by Oleg, Ruric's successor, who made it his capital. In 1240 (when it ceased to be the capital) it was nearly destroyed by Batfkhan of Kiptchak. Christianity was first proclaimed in Russia at Kief in 988. In the 14th century it was seized by Gedimin, grand duke of Lithuania, and annexed to Poland in 1569, but in 1686 was restored to Russia. Kief is the oldest Russian metropolitan's residence, the cradle of Russian Christianity. It is also noted on account of two Church (Greek) councils that have been held there. See Landon, Manual of Church Councils.
(a) The first of these convened about 1147, and is noted for the manner in which the bishops elected a metropolitan in the place of Michael II. With the exception of Niphont of Novocorod, they all agreed to take the election into their own hands, without allowing to the patriarch of Constantinople the exercise of his right either to nominate or confirm. Niphont strongly protested against the step, but without effect. The choice of the synod fell upon Clement, a monk of Smolensk. As a substitute for the patriarchal consecration, Onuphrius proposed that the hand of St. Clement of Rome, whose relics had been brought from Cherson, should be placed upon his head. This election led to great disorder, and subsequently the patriarch Luke Chysoberges consecrated Constantine metropolitan, who condemned the acts of this synod, and suspended for a time all the clergy ordained by Clement.-Mouravieff's Hist. Russ. Church (by Blackmore), p. 35.
(b) Another council was convened here in 1622. Meletius, archbishop of Polotsk, at one time a most zealous defender of the orthodox Church in Russia, had been obliged to flee into Greece upon a groundless suspicion of having been concerned in the murder of Jehoshaphat, Uniate archbishop of Polotsk, and, urged by fear, had given himself up to the Uniate party, and written an apology in censure of the orthodox Church; in this council he was called to account, made to perform open penance, and to tear his book. Soon after he entirely apostatized; and, going to Rome, had the title of archbishop of Hieropolis conferred on him.-Mouraviftl, r. 179.
In the neighborhood of Kief is the convent of KievoPetchersk, a celebrated Russian sanctuary, which annually attracts thousands of pilgrims from the most remote corners of the empire. In the days of king Wladimir, the river Bug, near this city, was considered sacred by many Russian sects, and in many respects Kief, in those days, resembled the city of Benares in India. The reader can best obtain a view of the worship of rivers in the East by turning to the article SEE GANGES (comp. Vollmer, Mythol. Worterbuch, p. 1049).