Orthodox Christians march for peace in Donbass

Thursday, 7 July, 2016 - 13:45

Believers, the participants of the religious procession for peace in Ukraine, are carrying the greatest relic - the Svyatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God. And already on Saturday, in the West of the country a reciprocal-movement began. Common prayer - at the end of the month in Kiev.

From the ancient walls of the Holy Dormition Svyatogorsk Lavra, the solemn column has already completed tens of kilometers. There are still hundreds ahead for the first all-Ukrainian religious procession for the unification of the country. About 1000 Orthodox believers already responded to the appeal of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy.

"The whole plan is very symbolic - in order to unite not only all three shrines, monasteries, but to bring people together from different parts of the country to take part in common prayer, thereby to unite the West and East of the country," said the head of the administrative apparatus of the Kiev metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Archimandrite Victor (Kotsaba).

The large-scale solemn procession began on Sunday in the East. The path from the Holy mount of the Donetsk region via Kharkov, Poltava to Kiev is 750 kilometers. The believers from Western Ukraine will accomplish about 400 kilometers more - because they will come from Pochayev Lavra in the Ternopil region this Saturday to meet with believers from the East in the end of July .

"We are praying for peace and accord in Ukraine between the West and the East; if there was no hope, we would not participate," said one of the believers.

How long to walk together in this way, everyone decides themselves. To Kiev its a long way, but the pilgrims are determined. Seven-year-old Gleb hails from Donetsk, in the column he is alongside his mother, brother, and very young sister. "Until we reach somewhere," said the child.

To forget our discord and reunite in common prayer – the organizers of the religious procession call for peace in every village and town on the path. At the head of the procession the priests of the Moscow Patriarchate carry the greatest relic of Donbass - the Svyatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God. Everywhere the miraculous icon is met by believers who are ready to join them and participate in this long three-week journey.

"For the believer to walk with a prayer is not a burden but a joy," said a participant of the procession.

There are overnight stops and short breaks to recharge. In order to meet the deadline, the pilgrims must walk about 35 kilometers per day. The procession is escorted by police and medics.

"People feel good, there is little demand for treatment. We were ready for more work. So hot, such a long way, but people walk," said the Deputy chief doctor of fast-response Slavic ambulance Eleanor Sterlyatkina.

The participants of the rally begin their path nearly before sunrise and finish close to night, in time for July 27th. On the eve of the day of the baptism of Rus and the memory of St. Prince Vladimir, two columns of the procession will walk on the streets of Kiev to the heart of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy. It is expected that  tens of thousands of believers will take part in a prayer at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.