BORODYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — It’s almost Easter in Ukraine, where a trio of churches on the outskirts of the capital considered Faith, Hope and Charity on Sunday.
In Bucha, shocked into silence by the atrocities that left bodies on the streets, around two dozen worshipers gathered for the service as the exhumation of bodies continued from a mass grave in the cemetery.
In Makarov, a handful of members visited a badly damaged riverside church, sometimes moved to tears. Small golden rosary crosses lay strewn on the floor with the broken glass.
And in Borodyanka, where Russian attacks left a blackened hole in a high-rise building, volunteers and donations filled an almost intact church a few steps away, while residents lined up at the door for food. and other forms of assistance. Many were elderly people who stayed put while others fled.
On the day Pope Francis called for an Easter truce in Ukraine to make way for a negotiated peace, church visitors called out to God as reminders of their survival.
“Anyone who left, from any place, Makarov, Bucha, Hostomel or Andriivka, the neighboring village which was razed; everyone, even those who did not know the Lord’s Prayer, spoke to God in their own words,” Alona Parkhomenko told Makarov, where the exterior of the church was strewn with bullet holes and the priest warned of falls. of glass.
The Russian withdrawal from the region surrounding kyiv has allowed some of the millions of Ukrainians who have fled across the border or to other parts of the country to return home. Some see their places of worship damaged or destroyed. Ukrainian authorities said in late March that at least 59 spiritual sites, including churches, mosques and synagogues, had been affected.
In Makarov, priest Bogdan Lisechenko said the riverside church was in critical condition with spring rains imminent. “Now we’re removing the icons, saving them because the water is coming,” he said. “For now, we will close the windows to prevent looting.”
For Easter, which in the Orthodox world is two weeks away, the priest said the blessing would be given in a church in another village which has so far escaped damage from war.
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