UOC believers tell why they walk to Pochayiv to adore Mother of God
Thousands of pilgrims from all over Ukraine, who arrived at the Holy Pochayiv Mountain to revere the Miraculous Icon of the Mother of God, shared their impressions.
On August 5, 2020, the believers of the UOC, who arrived at the Holy Pochayiv Hill on the Feast of the Miraculous Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God, told the UOJ correspondent why they come to worship the Mother of God.
If fatigue and daily concern does not bring joy – fall at the feet of the Pochayiv Mother of God, She will comfort and calm. This is the opinion of thousands of Ukrainian believers, who several times a year get together on the Holy Mountain to receive mental and physical healing.
This is a special day for the small town of Pochayiv, there is bustle and noise in all its streets. Believers from different parts of Ukraine begin to disturb the peace of the ancient town a few days before the holiday. Streams of cars, buses, random walking pilgrims and hundreds of cross walkers flock to Pochayiv Mountain to become a single living entity and to adore the image of the Intercessor and Gracious Patroness of the Pochayiv Mother of God on this day. For four centuries in a row, the tradition of honoring the miraculous image on the Holy Mountain has been unchanged. And even the lockdown-2020 could not stop those who wanted to devote their hearts to the holy icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Celebrations to honor the miraculous image began on August 4 with festive vespers in the most ancient church of the Holy Mountain – the Assumption temple, where the icon is located.
“Every year I walk to Pochayiv to adore the Mother of God. Every time I plan this journey, there are always some things to hamper and ruin my plans. I had the same story this year, but I was able to cope with it and get to the vespers,” says Vasily from Korets. “I wanted to spend the night in the open air in a sleeping bag, to see the sky, the stars, hear the singing of the Lavra monks, bells, the noise of young people who, like me, sleep on the ground under the watchful eye of the Mother of God. However, when it was already dark, the monks came down to us and invited us to the cells. This, perhaps, ruined the plans a little but did not upset us, since we were in Her reliable hands."
The monks say that many pilgrims settled on the territory of the Lavra in the open air, set up tents, so they had to open all the churches for the night accommodation and find spare place in hotel rooms and cells.
“To get to the holiday, we booked a hotel two weeks in advance; it would be possible to spend the night in a church, it feels good to sleep in a church, but for people with children it is a bit more difficult,” says Anna, a pilgrim from Chernivtsi. “However, believe me, in order to be present at this holiday, to breathe this air, I am ready for any difficulties. After Pochayiv I am reborn, I restore my peace of mind. I have had many difficulties in my life, but the Mother of God helped me successfully resolve them. And today I am here to thank Her for that."
The Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra has long acquired a special meaning for modern Ukrainians. Of course, there are skeptics and enemies of the Lavra, but both of them do not miss the opportunity to visit the walls of the monastery at least occasionally. Residents recall that over the past four years, the monastery has come under harsh attacks from the authorities, historians, nationalists, but not a single message, complaint, or lawsuit has been able to sow confusion, distrust or insecurity in the hearts of true believers. The Holy Mountain, not only during large celebrations, but also on weekdays, receives pilgrims in large numbers.
Hundreds of believers from abroad come to Pochayiv every year. Believers from Poland even organized an annual international religious procession timed to coincide with the day of the celebration of the Pochayiv Icon. However, quarantine prevented the cross walkers from experiencing once again the bright feelings of unity in joint prayer this year.
Miroslav from Ternopil decided not to break his tradition of participating in a cross procession and came alone with prayer to the Holy Mountain, as he had done for six years in a row.
“I have a hard job, I work in a bank. Every day you have to listen to dozens of people, sit indoors. Because of my business, I do not even notice such simple things as the apple tree blooming or pears ripening,” says Miroslav, “therefore I try to spend my vacation in a special way: in prayer, in nature, with my thoughts. Every year, before honoring the image of the Pochauov Icon, I take a backpack and go on foot to the Holy Mountain. You cannot convey what I feel during the journey and when I come to the monastery. These impressions are enough for me keep spiritually fit for a year, they give me an impulse to live and work, obey God's will, and avoid doing stupid things."
The festive Liturgy on the Feast of the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God took place in the overcrowded Holy Transfiguration Cathedral. The service was attended by 16 bishops, hundreds of priests and monks. The service was headed by Metropolitan Mark of Khust and Vinogradov. Four choirs beautifully and majestically sang psalms in honor of the Mother of God, while during the common chants of the prayers "I Believe" and "Our Father", thousands of believers with one voice praised the Creator.
“One has to go there to experience such moments,” says Maryana from Chernivtsi. “I collect every stay on the Holy Mountain (laughs). I well remember the day when I came here for the first time, when I decided to come again, how I brought along my own sister and children here, and here I met my sister in faith. In Pochayiv, I found a priceless person – a spiritual father. You know, I consider this a special gift of the Mother of God to me, a sinner. Even though it is far away, I come here often: for spiritual advice, for socialising in order to move on in my life."
A cross procession around the monastery traditionally ends the celebrations on Pochayiv Hill. A large number of people walk across the entire territory of the Lavra. The image of the Most Holy Theotokos majestically leads the crowd and slowly returns to its usual place, where until late in the evening Orthodox believers would worship, thank, ask Her, adore Her in chants until the end of the century. This is something to continue forever.
As the UOJ reported, on August 5, 2020, festivities in honor of the Pochayiv Icon of the Mother of God were held in the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra of the UOC and which were attended by thousands of pilgrims.