Kiev, March 30, 2023
The monks of the Kiev Caves Lavra refused to evacuate the monastery yesterday, despite the demand from state authorities. They were to leave yesterday, so that the official transfer of the property back to the usage of the state could begin today.
Recall that the Kiev Caves Lavra is legally owned and operated as a museum by the state, which previously leased its usage to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. However, as the war continues in Ukraine, the state has chosen to see the clergy and faithful of the UOC as state enemies.
Thousands of faithful filled the Lavra yesterday, unsure of what to expect. In the end, the state made no moves yesterday, but the faithful spent the night in one of the churches of the Lavra, in case of an attempted nighttime seizure, reports the Ukrainian outlet Strana.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine celebrated the Presanctified Liturgy in the Holy Cross Church in the Lavra, which was overflowing with people.
The abbot, Metropolitan Pavel, called on all to stand up and come defend the Lavra against the attacks of the state. He said that they will not allow the members of the Museum commission onto the territory of the Lavra until there is a corresponding court order.
Meanwhile, a Kiev court opened proceedings yesterday on the Lavra’s claim against the Museum regarding the illegal termination of the Church’s lease.
However, members of the Museum’s Commission arrived at the Lavra this morning, but the faithful are blocking them from carrying out their “inspection” of the territory, according to videos posted by Strana:
The faithful are singing the Jesus Prayer as they guard their holy site:
According to the Union of Orthodox Journalists, the faithful have thus far successfully blocked the commission from entering the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos and other buildings.
Met. Pavel is being chased outside the monastery walls by provocateurs with phones and cameras, but he is being guarded by Orthodox believers. He addressed the faithful who are protecting the Lavra, calling on them to stand “quietly and humbly.”
The Bukovina Diocese of the UOC is broadcasting live from the Lavra: