Kiev, July 28, 2021
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s annual cross procession on the eve of the Baptism of Rus’ drew its largest crowd ever this year.
According to preliminary calculations, more than 350,000 Ukrainian faithful took to the streets to honor St. Vladimir the Equal-to-the-Apostles, who baptized Rus’ in the Orthodox faith, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Borsypil and Brovary, the Chancellor of the canonical Ukrainian Church, reported in the briefing following the procession.
The day began with a moleben on St. Vladimir Hill at 1:00 PM in Kiev. Then the procession, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, made its way to the Kiev Caves Lavra, where the All-Night Vigil for the feast of St. Vladimir was served.
“Today, more than 350,000 people took part in the procession,” Met. Anthony said, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. “These are the initial calculations: We’ve already started the service, it’s already half over, and people are still just now leaving St. Vladimir Hill.
“Today is a great joy. Yoday we see the fruits of preaching and the fruits of the Baptism of Prince Vladimir. After 70 years of communist persecution and 30 years of increasing and decreasing oppression, the current Church is alive and lives in its fullness. The Church gathered at the monument to Prince Vladimir to testify its loyalty to the UOC, led by His Beatitude Onuphry. This is the joy of communion. This is the joy of being in unity,” reflected His Eminence Archbishop Jonah of Obukhov.
While Met. Anthony stressed that the actual number may be even higher than 350,000, according to the National Police there were only 55,000 participants, although they traditionally underestimate the number. In 2019, when 300,000 faithful processed, the police reported only 30,000. However, the police numbers still testify that this year’s procession was the largest ever.
As strana.ua writes, “This is apparently a direct consequence of the pressure exerted on the UOC by the authorities, and the persecution against the canonical Church by the nationalists. Apparently, intimidation doesn’t push people away from the Church, but rather mobilizes them. In the third year of the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’s’ existence as a practically official state church, support for the UOC has not fallen and there is no mass outflow of believers.”
Recall that episcopal representatives from the Antiochian, Serbian, and Czech-Slovak Churches also participated in the procession and Divine services. Multiple wonderworking icons from all across Ukraine were also present for the veneration of the faithful.
Watch the moleben and cross procession: