Veterans of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to be taken to the restored monastery on Mount Athos

15 May, 11:33
Veterans of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to be taken to the restored monastery on Mount Athos - фото 1
Efforts are underway to raise funds for the restoration of the Ukrainian monastic residence on Mount Athos, which was transferred to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) by the decision of the council of elders of the Holy Pantokrator Monastery in 2022. Plans include organizing trips for Ukrainian Armed Forces veterans to this monastery.

This was announced at a press conference at Ukrinform by representatives of the OCU and donors who aim to restore the monastic residence and have launched a special Easter fundraising campaign for this purpose.

"The first phase involves raising around 800,000 euros for the restoration of the historical part. The second phase will involve building a Ukrainian center, a pilgrimage house, a dining room, a gazebo, a prayer room, and a confessional," explained businessman Denys Rudenko, the organizer of the fundraising campaign.

According to Rudenko, the second part of the project includes raising funds to purchase a large bus, which will be transferred to the OCU. This bus will provide free weekly transportation for veterans to Mount Athos.

"The plan is to transport 20-30 people to Athos, then return to Ukraine for another group, and repeat this cycle. This way, veterans can pray alongside monks, work in the garden and household, and heal spiritually through conversations with monks and walking around Athos. We refer to this initiative within our team as a 'sanatorium for the soul.' Investing in the restoration of the monastery is the best legacy we can leave for eternity, for our children and future generations," Rudenko elaborated.

Metropolitan Yevstratiy Zorya of the OCU emphasized that the connection between Ukraine and Mount Athos is rooted in over a thousand years of religious, cultural, and historical tradition. However, when Ukraine lost its statehood, the contributions and roles of Ukrainians on Athos were redirected towards Russia.

"Shortly before the war, the Russian state pompously celebrated the 'millennium of Russian presence on Athos,' overshadowing connections with Kyiv. The Panteleimon Monastery, historically associated with Ukraine, was turned into a stronghold for spreading the 'Russian world' ideology with the support of the Russian imperial government. Now, the Ukrainian presence on Athos is in a state of revival. It's crucial to have a place on Holy Mount Athos where people of Ukrainian church culture, tradition, and language can feel at home," Zorya noted.

According to him, the Ukrainian presence on Holy Mount Athos is a "revival of historical memory, a place where pilgrims from Ukraine, both spiritual and secular, can feel at home and within this spiritual tradition."

The bishop expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the restoration of the Ukrainian monastery, stating that the OCU supports and blesses the project and all efforts to revive it. He also highlighted the importance of the spiritual component in the fight against the 'Russian world.'

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At the press conference, works by its participant, icon painter and author of the artistic project "Spiritual Shield" Ihor Okhotsky, were presented. Among the exhibits were icons made on bulletproof vest plates (to be sold at auctions) and two keys from a limited series, each with a unique number, commemorating the first mention of the holy monastery in chronicles (991 AD).

The unique "Spiritual Key of Peace" series, made in Kyiv, was specially delivered to the Cell of the Holy Archangels on Athos and will be presented to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a key number corresponding to his birthday (251) and to First Lady Olena Zelenska for her humanitarian mission, also with a number corresponding to her birthday (602). Additionally, a "Key of Peace" numbered 248 was created to honor Ukraine's Independence Day. The first key, numbered 001, will be presented today by Bishop Yevstratiy to Metropolitan Epifaniy of the OCU at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery.

The foundation of the monastic residence transferred to the OCU dates back to 991 AD, and its last reconstruction was in the 16th century. Thus, Ukraine received it in a dilapidated state.