Kiev, March 21, 2023
Relics of St. Agapit of the Kiev Caves. Photo: was.media
According to a letter sent to the Kiev Caves Lavra by the leadership of the state-owned Kiev Caves Lavra National Reserve, the brotherhood and faithful are now also cut off from both the Near and Far Caves and three other churches.
The Caves are where the relics of hundreds of saints are located. Access to the Churches of the Elevation of the Cross, the Conception of St. Anna, and the Synaxis of All Saints of the Caves has also been suspended, reports the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department.
“The abbot and brothers of the Lavra received this news with extreme pain,” commented His Eminence Metropolitan Kliment of Nezhin, head of the Information-Education Department.
The Church has already been kicked out of the main churches in the Upper Lavra, and has been informed that it will be entirely evicted from its monastery on March 29.
The Caves are closed so a special commission can determine the level of preservation of the “cultural values,” as the state calls the relics of the saints.
“Considering that Minister [of Culture] A. Tkachenko called the incorrupt relics of the saints of the caves ‘cultural values’ and ‘museum exhibits,’ the method of determining the preservation of these sacred items is cause for concern,” writes the UOC.
The commission arrived today and is already inspecting the “exhibits.”
“After all, in totalitarian Soviet times, the atheistic authorities widely conducted campaigns to open relics to show their state of preservation. These campaigns were accompanied by the desecration of the sacred items, relics were taken out of reliquaries, veils were removed from them for detailed description and display in museum showcases,” the Church recalls.
“The closure of the Caves by the Reserve without warning is a gratuitous manifestation of the restriction of the rights of Ukrainian believers, who are now are traveling en masse from different regions in the hope of venerating the relics of the Kiev Caves.”
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