Relics of priest martyred in 1919 rediscovered in Ukrainian village

New Prague, Ukraine, June 1, 2020

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The burial place and precious remains of a priest who was martyred by the communist authorities were recently discovered in a Ukrainian village within the Diocese of Alexandria of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The remains of Fr. Jacob Ilichevsky, who was martyred in 1919, were unearthed by clergy of the canonical Ukrainian Church on Friday, May 29, reports the diocesan press service.

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In January 1918, Fr. Jacob was appointed rector of the new Church of the Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro in New Prague. He suffered a martyric death a year later at the hands of local communists.

He was buried by the church where he served, though the church was later destroyed, and in 1972, the construction of a house of culture began on the site of the former church. The martyr’s grave was discovered by the construction team. According to witnesses, Fr. Jacob was dressed in green vestments, holding a cross and leather Gospel in his hands. The representative of the District Committee who came to the site took the cross and Gospel with him.

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The builders closed the coffin and reburied Fr. Jacob several yards from the site of the new building. A willow tree was planted to mark the grave, but over the years it dried up and was cut down.  

Fr. Jacob’s grave was newly rediscovered thanks to the stories of one of the men who worked on the construction team in 1972.

Last year, the precious relics of the blessed Confessor Julita (Pedan; †1955) were also uncovered in the Alexandrian Diocese, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. She was later canonized as a locally-venerated saint.

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