Orthodox Church holds first Easter Sunday in Ukrainian in Kyiv Lavra
By Marcel Gascon
Kyiv, Apr 16 (EFE).- Thousands of faithful heard the Orthodox Easter service in Kyiv’s iconic Lavra Cathedral in the Ukrainian language for the first time in history on Sunday, despite the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s links to Moscow.
“The Moscow Patriarchate had occupied the Lavra,” parishioner Mykhailo Yujimovich, an 80-year-old retired mechanical engineer who was imprisoned between 1984 and 1987 by the Soviet authorities for distributing material in favor of the language, tells Efe.
“We could not hear Ukrainian in this historical place for many years; Russia dominated and had prohibited it,” Yujimovich says, confident that the Russian invasion will result in ending the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate on Ukrainian spiritual life.
Ukrainians headed to the 11th-century Larva monastery to have their Easter baskets blessed by the priests of the National Orthodox Church of Ukraine as per the tradition in the country.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine gained its full independence from the Russian Church in 2019 after being tied to it for centuries, fulfilling a long-time Ukrainian aspiration of having an Orthodox Church completely separate from the Russian one.
“For us, this means independence,” says Olena Natalia Gotovets, a woman attending the event from the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.
“Finally we can celebrate Easter here!” Gotovets adds as she takes a selfie with her relatives outside the holy place that she had not visited for decades due to the church’s ties to Russia.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February last year, the Ukrainian authorities have been stripping the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the right to use some of the country’s main churches and monasteries.
“We are very happy that our Ukrainian church is finally coming back,” says musician Oleksander Chuj.
Last Christmas was celebrated for the first time ever in the Dormition Cathedral in central Kyiv after a state decree.EFE