Church in Ukraine
Sanctuaries of UGCC
*Mosaic of the Holy Mother of God in St. Sophia Church, Kyiv
The icon belongs to the iconographic type Oranta, "praying woman." It has this name because of the prayer stance of the Mother of God: she stands with hands outstretched in prayer. The Oranta in St. Sophia is also called "The Immovable Wall" (around the image there is an inscription taken from Holy Scripture: "The Lord is with you and you will not fall"). Having survived ten centuries (the church was erected in the middle of the 11th Century), the Oranta has become a symbol of the endurance of the Ukrainian people and the Lord's care for them. The Mongols sacked St. Sophia in the 12th Century. In the 1930s the Communists intended to destroy St. Sophia and build a large square in honor of the victory of Bolshevism over its ruins. In the summer of 1941 they were planning to dynamite "The Immovable Wall" and the Dormition Church of the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves. But none of these plans came true.
*The Kyivan Lavra of the Monastery of the Caves
The first organized monastic community in Ukraine appeared on the banks of the river Dnipro near Kyiv. Monasticism spread from here to all Rus. St. Antonii founded the Lavra of the Monastery of the Caves around 1051. The first hegumen (abbot) of the monastery was Saint Teodozii. In the 12th century construction of a magnificent ensemble of ecclesiastical buildings and monastery premises began. In 1598 the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves gained the status of lavra (a union of several monasteries) and the right of stauropegion (direct subordination to the Patriarch of Constantinople). Independent of the secular authorities, the monastery became the biggest spiritual and cultural center of Kyivan Rus. A printing house, a hospital for the poor and lame, centers of mosaic and jewelry work and a technical school operated here.
The Lavra is a distinguished place of pilgrimage in Ukraine. The main sacred
places of the Lavra are the incorrupt remains of the saints, which draw tens
of thousands of pilgrims yearly. Numerous cases of miraculous healing have occurred.
Already in the 17th Century Metropolitan Petro Mohyla started a systematic description
of the cases of healing which happened through the intervention of the Saints.
The famous Patericon ("Book of the Fathers") of the Kyivan Caves describes
the spiritual world of the first zealots of the Kyivan Church. Today the ensemble
consists of the Church of the Dormition, restored in 2000, a large bell-tower,
the Trinity Church above the Gates, the near and the farther caves and more
than 80 other memorials.
*The Lavra at Pochaev
The beginnings of monastic life on Pochaev hill are associated with a pious man named Turkul. The Mother of God appeared to him many times as he slept on the Pochaev hill. Later Fr. Methodius, a monk from Mount Athos, joined him. In 1219 they both started to build a monastery on Pochaev hill. Around 1240 a number of monks from the hills of Kyiv came to the monastery. They had managed to flee the Mongol-Tatar invasion. The name of the monastery probably comes from the river Pochaina, which was near their monastery in Kyiv. The jurisdiction of the monastery changed over the centuries. From 1721 to 1831 it belonged to the Basilian Order. During this period the buildings were designed in a western-Ukrainian rococo style; one example is the Dormition Church, which still dominates the architectural complex of the Pochaev Lavra. Today the Pochaev Lavra belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. Though active anti-catholic propaganda is conducted on the grounds of the monastery, Pochaev still remains one of the most honored places of pilgrimage for Ukrainian Catholics.
Footprint of the Mother of God
According to popular tradition, the Mother of God appeared on Pochaev hill in 1240. She left her footprint on a stone there. A spring gushed forth from beneath this stone and to this day it continues to heal many people from various illnesses. Not long after this appearance, the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was built near that rock. Throughout the centuries the church has been rebuilt a number of times.
This icon dates back to the 13th century. A folk tradition tells of a monk who managed to flee the Tatar attack on Kyiv. For a long time he traveled in the west and then, exhausted, he collapsed in a forest and fell into a deep sleep. The Mother of God came to him in a dream. The monk fell to his knees before her and the Mother of God, smiling, gave him her mantle and lifted him up. Waking up, he noticed the beauty of the forest and, close by, a strange light. He came closer and near a spring stood an icon of the Mother of God, pictured with the child Jesus in her arms. Recalling his dream, the monk knelt before the icon and prayed. He decided to live there. He built a chapel near the spring and he placed the image inside. Soon after, a monastery arose and a village, which the monk called Zarvanytsia. ("Zarvaty" means to carry someone or something away: he recalled how, by her appearance, the Mother of God "carried him away" or woke him up from his sleep.)
During the Turkish attacks on Europe (from 1683 to 1704) the village, the church and the monastery were burned to the ground. When the people returned to their homes, they rebuilt everything. A new church and monastery arose, the village revived. But not long after, the new church also burned. The monastery survived until 1916 and then was destroyed by fire. In 1714 a walled church was built in Zarvanytsia and a wonder-working icon was placed there. A chapel was built near the spring. In 1867 the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God of Zarvanytsia was solemnly crowned. Because of Cardinal Ivan Simeon, the image was granted special indulgences by Pope Pius IX. Since that time large groups of people have made pilgrimages to Zarvanytsia (today in the Ternopil region), from the feast of Saint George (May 6) until the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God (October 14). Miracles have been occurring in Zarvanytsia for centuries: the lame, the blind and the sick have been healed. Kneeling before her icon, pilgrims have asked special graces from the Mother of God, they have drunk water from the healing spring and even washed with it.
Zarvanytsia is also renowned for another wonder-working icon: the image of the Crucified Savior. According to popular tradition, one of the villagers uncovered it with his plough.
Thanks to the generous assistance of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (he donated 90 hectares of land and part of a forest) the Studite Monastery of St. John the Baptist was founded in Zarvanytsia in 1922. The Bolshevik regime forbade pilgrimages to Zarvanytsia. The church was turned into a warehouse and the monastery was destroyed. The faithful hid the icon of the Mother of God from the godless invaders and it survived. In 1989 it was taken back to the restored church.
In 1995 Zarvanytsia was declared an international pilgrimage site for faithful
of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In the summer of 2000 the Second All-Ukraine
Pilgrimage was held there, on the occasion of the Jubilee. A million pilgrims
from all Ukraine and beyond came for the event.
Terebovlia Icon of the Mother of God
Today this icon is in Lviv in St. George's Cathedral.
According to folk tradition, in 1673 the Turks held the castle of the town
of Terebovlia (in the Ternopil region) under siege for 14 days. Hunger came
to the town. The inhabitants in the castle were losing hope. Then one woman
knelt before the image of the Mother of God, which the people had praised as
wonder-working, and she prayed without ceasing. Others joined her in prayer
and eventually almost all the inhabitants together begged the intercession of
the Blessed Virgin Mary. History reports that the Turks did not take the castle.
The people attribute this victory to the favors granted by the Mother of God
and the image which was in the monastery church. Terebovlia then became a place
of pilgrimage. Bishop Joseph Shumlianskyi transferred the icon to the Cathedral
of St. George in Lviv. Now pilgrims come to St. George's hill to ask for the
intercession of the Mother of God of Terebovlia. A great number of pilgrims
come on the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God.
The Icon of the Holy Mother of God of the Univ Monastery
For the longest time the village of Univ in the Lviv region has felt the special influence of God's blessings. On the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God thousands of pilgrims travel to the holy site, where they venerate the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God or wash with water from the healing spring. Since 1994 every May a two-day youth pilgrimage to Univ has been organized by the student organization Obnova ("Renewal"), the Maltese Cross and the Studite Monastery.
Univ Monastery. Folk legend recounts the story of the miraculous healing of
Prince Lahodovskyi near the spring. To show his thanks the Prince established
a church and monastery on the site of the miracle. In the first half of the
16th century the Univ monastery became an archimandria (abbey). From its founding
the monastery was praised for its school and later for its printing of books.
Job Kniahynytskyi, Archimandite (Abbot) Barlaam and Athanasius Sheptytsky lived
their monastic lives here. At the start of the 19th century Metropolitan Michael
Levytskyi, head of the Greek Catholic Church, took up residence in the monastery.
His mortal remains lie in the monastery church of the Dormition of the Mother
of God. In 1919 with the blessing of the servant of God, Metropolitan Andrey
Sheptytsky, the Studite Monks took up residence here. They were called to revive
the monastic traditions of Old Rus from the times of Saints Antonii and Teodozii
Pecherskyi, of the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves. Fr. Clement Sheptytsky was
the first archimandrite of the new Studite community. Holy Dormition Lavra has
8 associated monasteries in and outside of Ukraine.
Wonder-Working Icons from Krekhiv
At the beginning of the 17th Century Brother Joel and his friend Sylvester settled near the village of Fiyny. First they lived in a cave over which they built the little church of Sts. Peter and Paul. In 1613 Count Stanislav Zhovkivskyi donated land for Brother Joel to build a church. First they built a small wooden church and eventually a big stone Church and monastery. Because of the numerous attacks of Turks and Tatars the monastery also served as a fortress in which the local population found shelter and defense from the attacks. The monks of this monastery had a strong faith in St. Nicholas. In 1737 a church was built in his honor. Popular memory has preserved many accounts of the miraculous power of the St. Nicholas icon. There is a cave on the Pobiina hill near the monastery. A procession goes there every year on the eve of the feast of the Transfer of the Relics of St. Nicholas (May 22).
For almost 350 years there has been an icon of the Holy Virgin Mary in the
Krekhiv Church of St. Nicholas. It was given by the Krasovskyis, a local family,
in the middle of the 17th Century. Their daughter was born blind. They prayed
for her in front of the icon of the Mother of God. Their daughter was healed.
The family gave the icon to the monastery. Since that time pilgrims have held
it in great respect.
* Sanctuaries officially do not belong to the Ukrainian Greek- Catholic Church. However faithful people of the Ukrainian Greek- Catholic Church are united through the tradition of the Kyiv Church, St. Volodymyr's the Great baptism and vocation to work for the Church unity.
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|© The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 2001
Research by the - Lviv Theological Academy
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