Kiev, December 10, 2020
The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Church gathered at the Kiev Caves Lavra yesterday under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine to examine a number of issues concerning modern Church life, inter-Orthodox relations, and the liturgical calendar.
In particular, the Synod approved for local veneration 5 ascetics of piety who labored on the territory of the Sumy and Alexandria Dioceses, reports the Information-Education Department of the UOC.
The newly-canonized saints are the Hieromartyr Archimandrite Aristarkh (Sitalo) (+1919), Hieromartyr Fr. Vasily Slotvinsky (+1919), Fr. Theodore Statkevich (+1919), Fr. Alexander Balanutsa (+1919), and Fr. Jacob Ilichevsky (+1919). Their names had been sent to the Holy Synod for consideration following the October 30 session of the Synodal Committee for the Canonization of Saints.
St. Aristarkh spent nearly his entire life in monasticism at Holy Trinity Monastery in Akhtyrka in the Sumy Province, serving as abbot from 1906 until his death in July 1919 at the hands of the Bolsheviks.
St. Jacob Ilichevsky was appointed rector of the Church of St. Theodore the Tyro in the village of New Prague in the Kirovograd Province in 1918. A year later, he was martyred at the hands of the local communists and buried near his church. His relics were recently rediscovered and unearthed.
St. Vasily graduated from the Odessa Seminary in 1877 and served in two churches in the Kirovograd Province.
Additionally, the Synod established December 29 as the Churchwide feast of Blessed John the Barefoot, the Fool-for-Christ, who was previously a locally-venerated saint of the Kiev Diocese. He was locally canonized on December 29, 2015. The name of this blessed elder is invoked against many diseases. It is known that in his lifetime there were countless cases of healing through his prayers, and after his repose an influx of believers flocked to his grave seeking his intercession. Since he is the patron of the poor and the destitute, those in need and in difficult financial situations in particular address their prayers to him.
The Synod also established Bright Friday as the feast of the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God, which was also previously locally venerated in the Kiev Diocese. Met. Onuphry led the service of the glorification of the Icon on May 6, 2017. Read about the miracles of the Tithes Icon here.
The Synod also approved the text of the liturgical service for the Lugansk Icon of the Mother of God.