Christianity in Kievan Rus dates back to the 9th century, becoming the dominant religion after the conversion of Vladimir the Great in 988. Early Russian monastics were often cave–dwellers and/or hermits like St Anthony of Kiev; the size of a typical community was in single figures, or met only for religious observance. This early monastic flowering abruptly terminated with the Mongol conquest (1237–41), with the building of monasteries retreating to the free Russian heartlands round Novgorod and Pskov. Resurgence coincided with the Russian revival led by Dmitri Donskoy, who defeated and drove back the pagan armies of both Lithuania (1372) and the Golden Horde (1380). Missionary saints such as Stephen of Perm, and Sergius of Radonezh consecrated the resurgence by founding strings of monasteries. Sergius was famed for colonizing the most inhospitable places, while Stephen created a written version of the native tongues to convert the Zyrians and Permians.
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