July 28, 2009

Patriarch Kyrill in Ukraine: Pigeons From All Over Kiev Flew to the Kiev Lavra on the Caves

Kiev, Ukraine
July 27, 2009

A day before Patriarch Kirill's arrival to the Kiev Lavra on the Caves parishioners and clerics watched an unusual phenomenon: pigeons massively migrated to the holy place.

"I've never seen so many pigeons in the Lavra. I saw most of them not far from the refectory church in the upper part of the Kiev Lavra on the Caves," Ukrainian edition of the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily has cited a local seminarian as saying on Monday.

Pigeons flew to the Lavra from all over the city, they sat down to cornices of the buildings restored especially for the visit of the Russian Church Primate.

Parishioners told they saw something similar this spring, though on a smaller scale, when relics of St. Spyridon were brought to Kiev from the Greek island Kerkyra.

"Just a few hours before the relics were brought in pigeons started flying around the Lavra. It looked so impressive," Kiev resident Anna says. "And now the day before His Holiness came, birds are gathering again. I believe it's a good sign."

For Patriarch Kirill's visit, a square before the Lavra's Elevation of the Holy Cross Church was restored and the caves where relics lie were whitewashed. Besides, the chapel was renovated and restoration works in the Church of Our Lady, the Joy of All Who Sorrow, are almost completed.

Patriarch Kirill Visits Kiev-Pechersk Lavra

July 27, 2009

After celebrating a Divine Liturgy at Volodymyr Hill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill has arrived in Kiev-Pechersk Lavra he had earlier described as 'a great shrine; a visit to which gives such a charge of spiritual energy one can draw from it for a long time'.

He had earlier said of the Lavra, 'there is the first throne of the Primates of the Russian Orthodox Church,' according to the Press-Center of the Visit. “When I received, by tradition, the staff of St. Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev, as a symbol of spiritual power, from the hands of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr [Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - ed.], I felt internal need to visit Kiev as soon as possible, the Holy Land of our Church, to bow unto the relics of the venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves,” the Patriarch noted.

Patriarch Kirill was met at the Near Caves by the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in particular, by Deputy Abbot of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Archbishop Pavel of Vyshhorod, who addressed Patriarch Kirill with a greeting. After that, Patriarch Kirill attended the Church of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, where he prayed unto the Wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Also the Patriarch had his photos taken together with the monastery brethren.

Patriarch Kirill has arrived in Ukraine on July 27 to stay till August 5.

Protest Against Patriarch Kirill’s Visit Gathered on St. Volodymyr’s Mount

July 27, 2009

Around 300 people gathered on St. Volodymyr’s Mount to protest the visit to Ukraine of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. UNIAN news agency reports that the protestors stand in separate groups in front of the Ukrainian House at the start of Trokhsvyatytelska Street, on the side of the European Square, as well as on both sides of the street.

According to the information, the protestors held Ukrainian state flags, flags of the nationalist organization UNA-UNSO, and others. They chanted such slogans as: “For Ukraine a National Orthodox Church!,” “Away With the Muscovite Colonizer Priest!,” and “For Ukraine an Independent Church!.”

Police cordons and workers of military special detachments surrounded either side of the Trokhsvyatytelska Street to hold back the protests.

However, a communiqué released by the Ukrainian Union of Veterans of Afghanistan (UUVA) and UNA-UNSO stated that provocative groups of different kinds, including a “pseudo-UNSO” group, are preparing aggressive protests against the visit to Ukraine of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. Thus, UUVA and UNA-UNSO came together to prevent any provocations during Patriach Kirill’s visit to Ukraine. They called on their countrymen to “withhold from illegal actions, and to not give in to provocation.”

“Ukraine is a democratic state, where each person had the right to freely express his opinions. However, the actions of our countrymen have to be within a certain limit since we belong to a nation with an ancient culture with old civilized traditions. Our organizations have various political views and ideological inclinations, but we are united by our love to Ukraine and our desire to live in a civilized, democratic, and developed state,” said in the communiqué, which was signed by the head of the UUVA, General Major S. Chervonopyskyj, and the head of UNA-UNSO, Hero of Ukraine, Juriy Shukhevych.

Russian Church Leader Starts 10-day Tour of Ukraine

July 27, 2009

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, embarked on a 10-day visit to Ukraine on Monday, according to RIA Novosti.

In the capital Kiev, Kirill will visit holy sites and meet with President Viktor Yushchenko before touring eastern and western Ukraine, and the Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine is a predominantly Orthodox country, but the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is divided, with the Moscow Patriarchy controlling the larger branch of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Yushchenko, who has pursued pro-Western policies and sought to reduce Russian influence in the country, has advocated unifying Ukrainian Orthodox churches under the Kiev Patriarchate.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the airport in Kiev as Krill arrived. Clad in yellow and blue clothes, the colors of Ukraine`s national flag, they held up banners saying: "We serve to God, not the Kremlin," and "Ukraine needs its own church."

Patriarch Kirill will visit the Kiev Lavra, one of the oldest monasteries in Ukraine and Russia, lay flowers at a statue of St. Prince Vladimir, who converted to Christianity in 988 and baptized the medieval state of Rus, and pay tribute to the victims of Soviet-era famine Holodomor, which the Ukrainian authorities say was genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Kirill will stay in Kiev, which he calls "the southern capital of Russian Orthodoxy," until Wednesday and will hold two services in the laura, meet with Ukrainian church officials and believers, and give a live television interview.

The patriarch is likely to receive a warm welcome in the Russian-speaking east, but nationalist groups in Ukraine`s west have protested against what they call the patriarch`s treatment of Ukraine as part of Russia.

Speaking to Ukrainian journalists ahead of the visit, Kirill said this would be a pastoral, rather than political, visit.

"My goal is to pray with the Ukrainian people. This may seem odd or hypocritical, or even untrue to some people. But this is what I plan to do," he said.

The visit will be the longest foreign trip so far by Patriarch Kirill, who was elected to replace the late Alexy II in February.

(See videos of Patriach's visit here.)