Visit of Pochayiv Icon to Italy Completed
With the blessing of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv and All Ukraine on December 17-28, 2009, the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God visited the Italian cities of Milan and Rome. During its stay on Italian land at least 15,000 of our compatriots venerated the shrine, reports the web site of the UOC-MP.
In Milan the shrine stayed from December 17 to 24, where it could be venerated not only by the Ukrainians of Milan, but also of Venice, Genoa, Bologna, and other northern Italian cities. Together with our compatriots on December 20, the commemoration of the Holy Hierarch Ambrose of Milan, prayed Metropolitan Volodymyr.
On December 24 the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God arrived by train from Milan to Rome. At the central railway station Roma Termini the icon was met by the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox parishes of the Italian capital – the Holy Hierarch Nicholas the Wonderworker and the Holy Great Martyress Catherine. From the railway station the clergymen and faithful carried the shrine in a sacred procession along the streets of Rome to the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church, situated near the railway station. The same day the festive vigil service was conducted on the eve of commemoration of the Holy Hierarch Spyridon of Tremithous and the akathist to the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God.
On December 25 at the St. Nicholas Church the divine liturgy and akathist service were conducted, following which the jubilee order of the "450 years of the bringing of the Pochayiv Theotokos Icon to Volyn" was conferred on the church rector Archimandrite Pavel Fokin. During the day the believers did not cease to visit the icon.
On December 26 the icon was transported to the other Orthodox parish of Rome – the Church of the Holy Great Martyress Catherine – where the Divine Liturgy was also conducted that day. Following the Divine Liturgy, with the blessing of Metropolitan Volodymyr, the co-worker of the Department for External Church Relations archpriest Mykolai Danylevych conferred church distinction on the church rector hegumen Philipp for his work in bringing the icon to Italy and on the occasion of his 40th birthday.
On the same day numerous believers had an opportunity to bow unto the icon, including Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy T. Izhevska and the co-workers of the embassy, representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy to Italy, Ambassador of the Russian Federation Y. Meshkov and the co-workers of the Russian diplomatic embassy.
In the course of stay of the icon in the St. Catherine Church the administrator of the Romanian Orthodox parishes in Italy Bishop Siluan (Romanian Orthodox Church) with numerous parishioners venerated the shrine. Orthodox Ukrainians from Naples, Perugia, Pescara, Catagna and other cities of the central and southern Italy also came.
It should be also noted that the Mother of God gathered not only Orthodox of different nationalities, but Greek Catholics and Catholics as well, including the Greek Catholic bishop Dionisii (Liakhovych), Apostolic Visitator for the Greek Catholic Ukrainians in Italy and Spain with the representatives of the Italian clergy, nuns, and the faithful.
On December 28 the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God left for Kyiv. During the visit abroad the icon was accompanied by the brethren of the Kyiv Cave Monastery, hegumen Laurus (Tykhyi) and hierodeacon Porphirius (Pidhurskyi), and the representative of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC-MP, archpriest Mykola Danylevych.