Kiev, March 13, 2023
The Orthodox faithful of Kiev came out in force on Sunday to worship and show their love and support for holy Orthodoxy.
Thousands of people filled the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra on the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, when all the saints of the Lavra are also celebrated, following their beloved hierarch His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine in prayer.
The blessed event occurred just two days after it became known that the state intends to completely expel holy Orthodoxy from the Lavra by the end of the month. The Church was already kicked out of the cathedrals of the Upper Lavra late last year, and has been worshiping in the churches of the Lower Lavra since then. Both sections of the monastery have been under state control since Soviet times.
The celebration began with the All-Night Vigil on Saturday night in the Church of St. Agapit in the Lower Lavra. The next morning, the saintly Met. Onuphry, together with 29 other hierarchs, led the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Cross Church.
It was initially planned to hold the service outside on the square in front of the church to better accommodate the thousands of pilgrims who were expected, but due to inclement weather, the service was held inside. Nevertheless, the rightly believing Kievan faithful filled the territory of the Lavra, braving the elements.
The video below shows thousands of faithful chanting the Nicene Creed together on the square outside the church:
After the reading of the Holy Gospel, His Beatitude addressed the faithful with an archpastoral sermon in which he addressed the state’s ill will towards the Church and the brotherhood of the Lavra:
Today, dear brothers and sisters, clouds have gathered over this holy monastery…
We don’t know what will happen next, but we do know one thing—this Lavra was built by the faithful of our Church, by our Church. There was no other church then. Then it fell into disrepair during the Soviet period, when there was militant atheism and we received a pile of ruins in ‘88. Once again, our Church has rebuilt this holy monastery. And we think it’s unfair not to permit us to serve in this holy place.
… I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray that the Lord might change the thoughts of those people who want the brethren to leave the holy monastery, that the lamp of prayer might continue to burn here, so that each of you can come here, confess, receive Communion and venerate the holy saints of the Caves.
… May the Lord bless our land with peace through the prayers of the holy and Venerable Fathers Anthony and Theodosius and all the wonderworkers of the caves, so that the shots would stop sounding, so that people would be reconciled to each other, so that in their lives they would follow the path that our venerable fathers followed, the path that is called the path of salvation, which leads man to the Kingdom of Heaven.
During the litanies, special prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine, that all the suffering might be helped and comforted, that soldiers might be strengthened in courage, and that the government might be enlightened.
Met. Onuphry ordained two students of the Kiev Theological Seminary and Academy to clerical orders.
Following the Liturgy, the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity processed to the Far Caves and prayed to all the venerate Fathers of the Caves.