Apostolic nuncio Visvaldas Kulbokas led the coronation ceremony of the Icon of the Virgin in Odessa
This crowned altar image of the Virgin Mary was blessed by Pope Francis on August 3.
Speaking yesterday at the Vatican about the significance of the coronation of this icon for Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas stressed:
"There is a war in Ukraine and a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and in such a tragic period, the mother of God is the one who protects us. This is another act of entrusting Ukraine to the Virgin Mary. The act of dedication to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary has already been performed by the Holy Father together with the bishops of the world, and we are renewing this act of dedication to ourselves, Ukraine and the whole world every day. When we see such a tragic situation before our eyes, we have no choice but to turn to the Mother of God, our Protectress. In the conditions of such a tragic war throughout Ukraine, and during this period, first of all, in the Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Odesa regions, waking up every morning, we are grateful to the Lord for life, for the gift of a new day. We ask the Mother of God to protect us, in body and spirit. This is a moment of unity: our unity with the mother of God and with all Heaven. The situation remains tragic, there is a lot of cruelty, torture, and even targeted shelling of ambulances, hospitals, and children – such great atrocities that there is a human temptation to fall into anger and lose inner peace, overflowing with hatred. At such moments, we ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that our hearts are filled not with hatred, but with courage, patience, the spirit of martyrdom and trust in the Lord."
According to the nuncio, the Pope's coronation of an icon for Ukraine is a gesture that connects the successor of St. Peter with local churches. In this case, with the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, with the city of Odesa.
"These gestures are part of the tradition of the Church: at particularly solemn moments, the Pope is asked for a blessing, in particular, for the blessing of crowns intended for the Virgin Mary. As we know, the Holy Father repeats his prayers and appeals to all Christians and the whole world at every opportunity to pray for Ukraine, to pray for peace. His heart is with the suffering Ukrainian people. So, we know that this crown, which came from Rome after being blessed by the Holy Father, is a very specific sign of the Holy Father's prayer, full of empathy, made from the bottom of his heart. This is a huge sign of the unity of the entire church and ourselves with the Holy Father. And in unity, we are strong," said Nuncio Visvaldas Kulbokas.
Catholic magazine CREDO distributed a video of the coronation ceremony.