Ukraine Marks 1,025 Years of Christianity
Rome: The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) participated in the commemoration of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ Ukraine.
His beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) participated in the commemoration of the 1025thanniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ Ukraine on the official level. The celebration started with the opening of exhibition “Great and Glorious” in the Kyiv art complex “Art Arsenal”. The exhibition was opened by the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, in the presence of the honored Heads of all Christian Churches, church communities and religious organizations of Ukraine, which are members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches.
Commenting on the Official Program of Commemorating, his beatitude Sviatoslav grieved that the common prayer of various confession representatives for Ukraine was not planned for the official events. The prayer, noted the Head of the UGCC, would have been a manifestation of the sacral character of the commemoration of Ukraine’s Baptism.
The Head of the UGCC also issued a special commemorating Letter of the Parson, in which he pointed out that “the history of the Baptism of Rus’ Ukraine teaches us, that particularly Ukrainian people are those new generations of Christ’s people, born in Baptist water of the Dniper River”. The Head of the UGCC, appealing to the historical beginning of Christianity in Ukrainian land, emphasizes that “Kyiv has become the center of our Church and center of The Church of apostles, as Jerusalem once had been”. Thus, Christianity in Ukrainian land is not accidentally called “Christianity of Kyiv”. “That is why our people and our state are inheritors of the Christian civilization of Kyivan Rus’ Ukraine, which used to be one of the most powerful and civilized countries of Europe”. The Head of the UGCC described evangelization as “a spring of our people”, which filled the body of our nation with “spirit of the risen Christ”.
Meanwhile, former Head of the UGCC cardinal Lyubomyr (Huzar) encouraged to make of the commemoration of the 1025thanniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ “a true comeback to the millenary tradition”, which in practice means a sincere willingness to “obey Christ’s words in all spheres of personal, family, social and public life”.
It should be mentioned here that the UGCC will officially commemorate the 1025thanniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’ in August, instead of July, and the culmination of it will be All-Churches pilgrimage to Kyiv and sanctifying of the Patriarch Cathedral of Resurrection, built on the left bank of the Dniper River – so called “Ukrainian Jordan River” (Bl. Ioan Paul II). The head of the Church Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) explained why the UGCC commemorates the anniversary of the Christianisation in August, instead of July: “It is a tradition of the Moscovian Church to celebrate two occasions at once – an anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ Ukraine and commemoration of Sts Prince Volodymyr. The unification of those two occasions means to emphasize the state character of the state religion of the Moscovian Orthodox Church. Thus we are inheritors of the Volodymyr’s Baptism and the Kyivan Church and that is why we preserved an ancient Kyiv tradition to commemorate the Baptism of Rus’ Ukraine, year by year, on the 14thof August – the day of the Macavian Martyrs”.