Nestor the Chronicler

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Nestor the Chronicler
Iconographic depiction of St. Nestor the Chronicler, 1919, Viktor Vasnetsov (St. Vladimir Cathedral, Kyiv).
BornThe middle of the 11th century
DiedThe beginning of the 12th century
Known forcompilation of Primary Chronicle
Forensic facial reconstruction by Sergei Nikitin.

Saint Nestor the Chronicler (Old East Slavic: Несторъ Лѣтописецъ; c. 1056 – c. 1114, in Principality of Kiev, Kievan Rus') was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle (the earliest East Slavic chronicle) Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, and Account about the Life and Martyrdom of the Blessed Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb.

In 1073 CE, Nestor became a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. The only other detail of his life that is reliably known is that he was commissioned with two other monks to find the relics of St. Theodosius of Kiev, a mission which he fulfilled successfully. It is also speculated that he supported the reigning prince Svyatopolk II, and his pro-Slavic party disliked Greek influence in Kiev.[1]

His chronicle begins with the Deluge, as did those of most Christian chroniclers of the time. The compiler appears to have been acquainted with the Byzantine historians; he makes use especially of John Malalas and George Hamartolus. He also likely had other Slavonic language chronicles to compile from, which have since been lost. Many legends are mistakenly attributed to Nestor's Chronicle; the style is occasionally so poetic that perhaps he incorporated bylinas that are now lost.

As an eyewitness, Nestor could only have described the reigns of Vsevolod I and Svyatopolk II (1078–1112), but it is surmised he could have gathered many details from older inhabitants. Two such possibilities are Giurata Rogovich of Novgorod, who could have provided him with information concerning the north of Kievan Rus', the Pechora River, and other places, as well as Yan Vyshatich, a nobleman who died in 1106 at the age of ninety. Nestor provided valuable ethnological details of various Slavic tribes.

The current theory about Nestor is that the Chronicle is a patchwork of many fragments of chronicles, and that the name of Nestor was attached to it because he either wrote the majority of it or was responsible for piecing all the fragments together. The name of the hegumen Sylvester is affixed to several of the manuscripts as the author.

St. Nestor died around 1114 and was buried in the Near Caves. He has been glorified (canonized) as a saint by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The body of the ancient chronicler may be seen among the relics preserved in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. His feast day is celebrated on October 27. He is also commemorated in common with other saints of the Kiev Caves Lavra on September 28 (Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves) and on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.

Known works[edit]

  • Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves (1080s)[2]
  • Primary Chronicle, or The Tale of Bygone Years (ca. 1113)
  • Account about the Life and Martyrdom of the Blessed Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb (1080s)[3]


  1. ^ "Nestor the Chronicler – Russiapedia History and mythology Prominent Russians". Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  2. ^ "Saint Nestor the Chronicler" (PDF). St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Venerable Nestor the Chronicler of the Kiev Caves". Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 19 March 2017.


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