In 2021 we celebrate the 1033th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. On the eve of the celebrations, the head of the Synodal Information and Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kliment of Nizhyn and Prilutsk, answered the main questions about the celebration of the Day of the Baptism of Rus this year.
What celebrations will take place this year and what shrines will arrive in Kiev for the Day of the Baptism of Rus, as well as where it will be possible to bow to them – Vladyka told about this and another in an interview with TK Inter, reports the Information and Educational Department of the UOC.
What events will be timed to coincide with the Day of the Baptism of Rus this year?
The most important events for the Day of the Baptism of Rus will be various services with gratitude to God for His gift of the Orthodox faith to our people. Traditionally, the beginning of these services takes place on Vladimirskaya Gorka in Kiev. It is there that on July 27 at 13:00 a thanksgiving service will begin in front of the miraculous icons and relics of St. Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles. This prayer service is led by the Primate of our Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. Together with him, the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, hundreds of priests, monks and, of course, a huge number of laity who gather these days from all over Ukraine, as well as from abroad, will pray for God’s blessing for our people.
At the end of the prayer service from Vladimirskaya Gorka to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the streets of Kiev will host a procession of many thousands. At this time, the clergy will pray and bless our Capital with shrines, which will be carried by believers at the head of the procession. Then a solemn service called the All-Night Vigil will begin in the Lavra. During this service, believers will be able to approach the miraculous icons and perform their prayers in front of them. All this will take place on the eve of the Day of the Baptism of Rus, i.e. July 27.
And on the very day of the holiday, July 28, at 9:00 am, the Divine Liturgy will begin on the square in front of the Assumption Cathedral of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. All pilgrims who arrive in Kiev for the holiday will be able to confess with the Lavra confessors and partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Also, access will be organized to those miraculous shrines that will arrive in Kiev from all over Ukraine.
What is the main idea of the Religious Procession this year?
A religious procession is always a celebration. This is the triumph of our Orthodox faith. And despite the fact that recently our canonical Church has been undergoing serious oppression and trials, hundreds of thousands of believers gather together on the feast of the Day of the Baptism of Russia to testify to their loyalty to the true Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. They testify that no threats and deceit will be able to seduce them from the spiritual path that was outlined by God for our people from the time of the holy prince Vladimir to the present era, in which we live under the prayer cover of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphrius. A special joy for all believers is the fact that they can pray next to their Primate and feel the spiritual support and protection that the Lord sends to us through him.
What Shrines will arrive in Kiev for the Day of the Baptism of Rus, where can they be worshiped?
Everyone who takes part in the celebrations for the Day of the Baptism of Rus in Kiev has a unique opportunity to worship miraculous Orthodox shrines in one place, usually located in various parts of Ukraine. Pochaev and Zimnenskaya miraculous icons from the west of our country, the Svyatogorsk icon of the Mother of God from the east, the Kasperovskaya icon from the south and the Lubichskaya icon of Borodina from the server part of Ukraine – Chernigov region will come to Kiev.
The believing people very much respect these shrines and always strive for pilgrimage to them. Their history is full of testimonies of Divine supernatural help to people in a variety of life circumstances. Many pilgrims talk about miracles that happen to them through prayer precisely on the Days of the Baptism of Rus, when all of Kiev is consecrated by grace from miraculous shrines. On the days of the Kiev celebrations, they will all be exhibited together for worship after the Religious Procession in the Refectory Church of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on July 27 and 28. Usually, due to the large number of people who want to pray in front of the miraculous icons, and in order not to create an unnecessary crowd of people, access to them will be open all night. So that everyone will be able to raise their sincere prayers to God and His Most Pure Mother.
Where will the parishioners come from to participate in the procession and prayer service on Vladimirskaya Gorka, how many parishioners are expected this year?
The Day of the Baptism of Rus is a day that unites all peoples, whose history received a spiritual impetus from the Dnieper baptismal font. In previous years, guests from all over the world came to Kiev to share with us the joy of common faith and church unity. Restrictions associated with the spread of coronavirus infection affect the ability to come to Ukraine for foreign pilgrims. At the same time, believers, without exception, from all over Ukraine and this year strive to take part in the July celebrations. I would even say that today there are no such events that would consolidate the citizens of our Fatherland so much, regardless of where they live, what language they speak. All these, sometimes very different people, are united by one Faith and one Church. All of them gather not against something, as can often be seen on the streets of our cities, but in the name of God’s blessing, in the name of peace and the reign of love. For the last time, about 300 thousand believers passed through the streets of Kiev to the celebrations of 2019. They had prayer on their lips, and in their eyes – spiritual joy from participation in such a holiday. The Lord through the Gospel says: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” When tens and hundreds of thousands of people gather in the name of God, this creates an ineffable feeling of God’s presence and pure spiritual joy. This can explain the fact that those who at least once took part in the Procession of the Cross, called the Great by the people, on the Day of the Baptism of Russia, necessarily strive to come to the celebrations next year, and even bring their loved ones with them.
We again look forward to meeting brothers and sisters on Vladimirskaya Gorka, in order not only to strengthen ourselves in the faith, but also to testify to our loyalty to our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was established on our land by the holy Prince Vladimir equal to the apostles more than 1000 years ago.