Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord!

A Paschal Stork

On Paschal days, life is filled with joy, and even the other God’s creatures, animals and birds, praise the Lord these days! This story took place on April 24, 2020, during a cross procession, which was held with the blessing of Archbishop Sophrony of Mogilev and Mstislavl of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.

The Belynichi Icon of the Mother of God The Belynichi Icon of the Mother of God The traditional procession of the cross from Mogilev to Belynichi in honor of Holy Pascha and the Mother of God took place on Friday of Bright Week, on the eve of the feast-day of the Belynichi Icon of the Mother of God (April 12/25). According to Church tradition, this icon was brought in the thirteenth century by pious monks to the town of Belynichi and placed at St. Elias Church, where a miraculous, supernatural light shone from the icon of the Heavenly Queen during Vigil. This icon of the Theotokos is specially venerated in Belarus.

Those who participated in the cross procession recalled that an unusual pilgrim, a white stork, had joined the column at some point. In Belarus since ancient times, storks have been regarded as “birds of peace”. The number of their huge nests increases every year, and locals treat weak or injured “citizens of the sky” carefully.

The participants of the extraordinary event recalled the “winged pilgrim” with joy. As the procession was walking among the awakening spring fields, a stork appeared from somewhere. Making a circle over the cross procession, it began to descend, as if peering into the Belynichi Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which the Cossacks in the cross procession were carrying on a special bearer.

After that, the stork descended and walked ahead! “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” the pilgrims sang joyfully, while the tall, stately bird was strutting beside them.


The wonderful stork walked in procession right with the faithful along the side of the road as far as Belynichi—over seven miles! When the “winged pilgrim” was slightly behind, because the faithful were walking at a regular pace, it flew up to where the banners were being carried, and then walked again!

Those in the cross procession were worried for the stork’s life when the bird flew over to the traffic area. The traffic police car that accompanied the cross procession even delayed traffic several times so that cars would not accidentally knock down the “winged worshipper”. Then everyone begged it to cross or fly to the safe side of the road and continue along with the column, and the stork obeyed them.

But all the attempts of those in the cross procession to persuade the stork to rest were in vain: the bird walked on and on, afraid neither of people, nor of passing cars or trucks. This went on for more than four hours.


When the pilgrims would stop for a short rest, the bird would stroll serenely among groups of the faithful, but it was not so tame as to allow anyone to stroke it or to take food from their hands.

When they made their last halt in the woods just over a mile away from the town, the miraculous “pilgrim” stood, surrounded by people, listening to prayers and Paschal hymns. Then it went straight up to the Belynichi Icon of the Mother of God, bowed before it and, according to eyewitnesses, touched the highly venerated icon with its peak with reverence. After this pause, the stork proceeded as part of the cross procession to its final destination.

It was already dark when the pilgrims reached the town. The stork took wing, and making a circle of honor, as if blessing the people, flew away… This is a lesson of boundless devotion and trust in God and His Most Pure Mother that a brave bird taught the pilgrims. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord (Ps. 150:3). Christ is Risen!

Svetlana Rybakova
Translation by Dmitry Lapa

Sretensky Monastery


Antonia5/16/2024 7:30 am
An Awesome Story! Christ is Risen!
Cat5/9/2024 10:06 pm
Animals know... my cat wants nothing to do with water, but he doesn't flinch when being sprinkled by holy water, when the home is being blessed. Apart from that he cannot stand even a few accidental drops of plain water on his fur.
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