St. Stephan and Kiska in Komi-Zyrian Folklore

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St. Stephan and Kiska in Komi-Zyrian Folklore

Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko

KISKA - the hero of a Zyryan legend about St. Stephan the Permian. According to the legend, when St. Stephan baptized the Ust Vychegda Zyryans, one girl (Ul'yana by name) of the newly converted Komi became his very zealous helper and follower.

Ui'yana's sermons on the new religion seriously displeased a mighty sorcerer. Kiska, who decided to punish her. After arriving on the Vychegda he came by boat to the village where Ul'yana lived and burnt down the local chapel. Then Kiska seized the girl, and being fascinated by her beauty, he decided to take her to his domain on the Pechora as a concubine. But after being tied up and thrown into the boat, Ul'yana was able to jump overboard but then drowned in the Vychegda. Ul'yana was buried at the place where her body was washed ashore, and there St. Stephan built a monastery which was named Ul’yanovskii. The village which is near the monastery has the same name.

After building the monastery Stephan went to the Pechora to punish Kiska for his crime. Approaching the home of Kiska in a boat, Stephan saw that the river had bee partitioned off with iron chains (another Ust Vychegda sorcerer Kert Ajka also partitioned the river with chains). St. Stephan pronounced a spell and hit the chains with a cross and the chains tore apart and sank. Then Kiska gathered a lot of fish in Stephan's path which stopped the boat, but St. Stephan drove the fish away, again with the help of the cross and landed on the bank. Kiska locked himself in his cottage, and St. Stephan ordered his companions to set it on fire. But fire was powerless against the spells of Kiska. At last they set the cottage on fire with the help of an old bathhouse besom. The sorcerer jumped through a window and ran towards the river. Stephan's helpers blocked his way and killed him with axes. St. Stephan built a church and the Troitse-Pechorski monastery at the place of the death of Kiska.

Unlike the majority of other legendary sorcerers, rivals of St. Stephan, the name of Kiska has not been reflected in toponymy.

[Ed. Note] We always question the validity of any religious story that involves "sanctioned" violence and killing.  Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and His teaching speak against any violent act.