‘Prayer is our only weapon’: Monks at Kyiv monastery resist planned eviction

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Crowds of visitors have packed the dozens of services at Kyiv’s Monastery of the Caves in recent days to receive sacraments, pray and kiss holy relics of saints in the catacombs —fearing each visit will be their last chance to worship with monks before either the Ukrainian government or a rival church takes over one of the most sacred sites in Eastern Orthodoxy.The monastery’s fate has been in question since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 has brought a series of crackdowns on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has historical ties to Moscow.
The Ukrainian Culture Ministry has pledged to evict the 700 UOC monks, students and staff living on the monastery’s grounds by Wednesday (March 29).
“We don’t know what to expect but we are ready for everything,” said Nikodim Kalonger, a deacon and seminary graduate who has lived at the monastery for 12 years and plans to become a monk in the UOC. He said there is a “kind of joy over the Lavra because people from all over Ukraine are gathering each day filling our churches and our caves.”

“We are going to stay here until the very end. … The only weapon we have is our prayer.”
The monastery, founded in 1051 and called the Pechersk Lavra, holds special significance for Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christians, who trace their Slavic Christian roots to a mass baptism in 10th-c …

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