Tbilisi; Zhytomyr, Ukraine, March 17, 2020
The Orthodox faithful throughout the world have been encouraged to increase their prayers and their focus on the spiritual life as the coronavirus continues to spread, while, of course, maintaining increased standards of hygiene.
“If we pray, entreat God, and repent of our sins, then we will destroy this sickness,” His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine preached on Sunday. “Therefore, the most important thing in this is not so much sanitary standards as it is prayer and repentance.”
And a recent statement from the Georgian Patriarchate called on the faithful to read special prayers every day, while churches will ring their bells at noon every Sunday and priests will bless their churches and the surrounding streets with holy water following the Divine Liturgy.
In this spirit and following these directives, clergy in Tbilisi and in the Zhytomyr Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have begun blessing their city streets with holy water and wonderworking icons.
Clergy left from the Holy Trinity Sameba Cathedral, the main cathedral of the Georgian Church, today, first traveling to Republic Square, then dispersing to various locations, passing through the city streets, reports Interpress News.
As Archpriest Shalva Kekilidze commented, they are asking for help from the Lord to protect the country from the virus that is spreading throughout the world.
“We, the priests, will divide into three groups and go around all the blocks, where we will sprinkle the streets with this holy water. We are entreating the Lord Most High to protect our country,” Fr. Shalva said.
On behalf of the Church, he also thanked all medical staff for their hard work.
His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia of Georgia earlier spoke about a vision he was granted that assured him that man will overcome the coronavirus.
Likewise, in the Zhytomyr Diocese of the Ukrainian Church, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Nikodim, clergy are touring the streets daily with various holy icons from different churches throughout the diocese since Sunday, March 15, reports the diocesan press service.
The clergy are also serving special molebens and reading akathists and prayers in an effort to protect the city. According to the diocese, the faithful processed with an icon of the Mother of God during an epidemic in 1872, which helped save the city.
On Sunday, the clergy toured the city the wonderworking Podolsk Icon of the Mother of God.
Yesterday, they traveled throughout the city with the icon of the Equal-to-the-Apostles St. Olga from the church of St. Olga in Zhytomyr.
Today, the clergy traveled with the Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon from St. Nicholas Church. Tomorrow their tour will be accompanied by an icon of the Holy Protection, followed by an icon of the Holy Martyr Anasatasia of Rome on Thursday, a piece of the True Cross of the Lord on Friday, and an icon of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon on Saturday.
“We ask everyone to join in prayer and fasting so that the Lord might stop this destructive illness among the people,” the press service writes.