After the start of the war in Donbass in 2014, the Iveron Convent in Donetsk was severely damaged by Ukrainian troops, finding itself in the epicenter of the attacks because it is near the airport for which there were fierce battles.
There had been no Divine services in the monastery’s church for nearly a year and a half. But when the shelling had somewhat subsided, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the monastery’s devastated church on February 25, 2016, the patronal feast day of the Iveron Monastery, with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol. Then the services were celebrated for two years on the days of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, three times a year.
After Pascha this year, the ruling hierarch gave his blessing for services to be celebrated in the monastery church every Sunday. On St. Thomas Sunday, April 15, the Divine Liturgy was served there, and afterwards a panikhida. In addition, the Liturgy and a memorial service were served on Tuesday for Radonitsa, for the commemoration of the reposed.
It should be noted that the monastery is located in the middle of the Novoignatevsky Cemetery, which before the war was the best in Donetsk, but which has also been severely damaged by shelling. There are practically no whole tombstones remaining; many graves were completely destroyed by direct hits by shells and mines. Mine crews have cleared the graveyard several times. However, the authorities have officially prohibited visiting it, due both to the continuous shelling and to the danger that there could still be live shells remaining there. Nevertheless, the people of Donetsk have continued to go there at their own risk, even at those times when the cemetery has not been demined. Moreover, some people continue to bury their departed loved ones there! There were even fresh graves there just in March.
There were many people at the cemetery for the memorial days this week. Some came for the first time in four years to find the graves of their relatives, and some had already managed to restore the destroyed headstones. Many also went to the monastery church to give names for the commemoration of the departed.
Photos: Sergei Golokha
Translated by Jesse Dominick