Alexander Nevsky

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Holy Prince Alexander Nevskyaudio button
(August 30/ September 12, November 23/ December 6)

Alexander NevskyPrince Alexander Nevsky is one of our country’s beloved heroes.  In times of great hardship, he protected not only Rus but our Orthodox faith.

In 1236, when he was only sixteen, Alexander became the ruler of Novgorod.  Those were very difficult years for Rus.  Many cities were destroyed by Khan Batyi.  Thousands of Russians died in battles with the Mongols.

Sweden saw that Rus had become weak from the Mongol invasion and decided to attack.  In 1240, ships of the large Swedish army entered the Neva and landed by the mouth (устье) of the Izhora River.

Alexander believed that God would be with the Russians and give them victory.  He went to the Church of Saint Sophia to ask for the Lord’s help.  Alexander knelt before the altar and prayed with tears in his eyes.  After his prayer, the prince said, “God is not where strength is, but where truth is.”

On July 15th, the day of Saint Vladimir, Alexander and his army met the Swedish knights on the Neva River. Before the battle started, there was a sign from Heaven.  Many people saw the two holy brothers, Boris and Gleb, with light around them.  The army of the enemy was larger, but the Russians won.

At the time of this battle, Alexander was only twenty years old.  In memory of the victory he was given the name Nevsky.

Soon, the German knights, called Crusaders, occupied lands near Novgorod.  They wanted more than the territory; they wanted to convert Russians to a different faith.

Alexander again acted without delay.  In the battle of 1242, he led the knights onto the surface of the frozen Chudsky Lake.  It was April, and the ice was thin.  The Crusaders and their horses wore very heavy armour.     Many knights drowned in the cold waters of the lake.   Prince Nevsky’s victory stopped the Crusaders’ plans and strengthened the western borders.

When Alexander felt his life was coming to an end, he took monastic vows.  He died in 1263, at the age of 43, as monk Alexis.  Thousands of people mourned the death of their beloved prince and protector.  Many miracles happened near his tomb.

Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky was glorified in the 13th century.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria

 Храм святого благоверного князя Александра
 Невского в Болгарии, г. София

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Orthodox  [ˈɔː θə dɔks]  православный
Sweden  [ˈswɪːdn]
Swedish  [ˈswɪːdɪʃ]


holy, adj.  [ˈhəulɪ]  святой
hardship, n.   [ˈhɑːdʃɪp]  лишение, нужда,  тяжёлое испытание
invasion, n.  [ɪnˈveɪʒən]  вторжение, нашествие
kneel (knelt-knelt), v. [nɪ:l] становиться на колени
pray, v. [ˈpreɪ]  молиться
prayer, n. [ˈpreɪə]  молитва
knight, n.  [naɪt]  рыцарь
sign, n.  [saɪn]     знак, знамение
German Crusaders, n.  [ˈdʒəːmən  kruːˈseɪdǝz]  немецкие рыцари-крестоносцы
delay, n.  [dɪˈleɪ]  задержка, промедление
strengthen, v.  [ˈstreŋθn]  укреплять
take monastic vows  [məˈnæstɪk vauz]  принять монашеский обет
mourn, v.  [mͻːn]  скорбеть
tomb, n.   [tuːm]  гробница, склеп
monk, n. [mʌŋk]  монах