‘A great pity’: Ukrainian village faces a churchless Easter
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/04/2022 (412 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
LUKASHIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — A single metal cross remains inside the church of shattered brick and blackened stone. Russian soldiers used the house of worship for storing ammunition, residents said, and Ukrainian forces shelled the building to make the Russians leave.
There will be no Orthodox Easter service here Sunday in this small village in northern Ukraine.
One of the church’s golden domes was blown off. Its gilded cross is propped up against an exterior wall.
“It’s a great pity,” resident Valentina Ivanivna, 70, said, standing with her bike on Orthodox Good Friday as men dismantled abandoned Russian military vehicles nearby.
The church in Lukashivka, a village near the city of Chernihiv, survived World War II and the most austere years of the Soviet Union, a time when authorities stripped it of its religious icons, residents said.
This time, locals think it will take years for the church to recover its past beauty.
Its bells fell onto unstable ground that is littered with ammunition casings and cans of Russian tinned meat. A stand for candles remains, along with a dented teapot and a pasta strainer.
Outside, the finned part of a rocket is stuck in the mud.
Villagers have vowed to rebuild, whatever it takes. They’ve already started on their own homes, even as they wait for basic services to resume.
There is no gas available to bake Easter bread. At a bend in a road, a military chaplain, Volodymyr Vyshyvkin, and volunteers handed out food and verses.
Remember, Jesus was resurrected, the chaplain told them. Ukraine will do the same. He called on the villagers to pray for those on the front line in places like Mariupol, a southern city the Russians are determined to take and continued to bomb Friday.
Resistance never died during the local occupation of Lukashivka, said Valentyna Golyak, 64.
“I was telling the Russians, ‘You will stay in this land as fertilizer. If you want to kill me, kill me.’ They looked ashamed,” she said. “I think they don’t believe in God.”
Golyak said she also told the Russian soldiers that she had lived her whole life without war and had expected to die the same. Instead, the soldiers damaged or destroyed almost every village home. And the church had been beautiful, she said.
But she celebrates new life, too. Her daughter gave birth in a village basement during the Russia occupation. On Saturday, the baby girl will be 1 month old.
She was named Victoria.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.