These two brothers were born in Russia and were sons of St. Vladimir of Kiev, the first Christian prince in Russia. Their father had had many wives before he became a Christian. Afterwards, he had lived as Jesus teaches us in the Gospel. Boris and Gleb were his sons by his Christian wife Anne of Constantinople and were brought up as good Christians.
When King Vladimir died, each son was to receive a portion of the kingdom. But the oldest son Svyatopolk, wished to rule alone. He first planned to kill his stepbrothers Boris and Gleb.
Boris was warned as he was coming back with his soldiers from a battle and his men at once prepared to defend him. But he would not allow it. "It is better for me to die alone," he said, "than to be the cause of death to many." Besides he explained that he could not raise a hand against his brother. So he sent them away and sat down to wait.
During the night, he thought about the martyrs who had been killed by their own close relatives. He knew how empty life can become if we make the things of earth too important. What really counts, he thought, is good deeds, true love and true religion. When in the morning, his brother's hired murderers arrived and began striking him with spears, Boris did nothing but call down peace on them.
St. Gleb was killed soon after. The wicked older brother invited him to come to his palace in Kiev for a friendly visit. As he was sailing down the river, Gleb's boat was boarded by fierce, armed men. He too would not defend himself by fighting, not even when he saw that they were determined to kill him. Instead, St. Gleb quietly prepared himself to die. "I am being killed," he said, "and for what I do not know. But you know, Lord. And I know you said that for your name's sake brother would bring death to brother."
A few years after they died, the people of Russia began going on pilgrimages to the tomb of the two brothers. Miracles took place. St. Boris and St. Gleb are called martyrs because they accepted death as Christ did, without defending themselves. They died in 1015.