The Cathedral of St. Alexander in Kyiv hosted celebrations on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the restoration of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr.
This is reported by CREDO.
The Divine service was led by Bishop-ordinary of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Vitaly Kryvytsky in concelebration with Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine Visvaldas Kulbokas.
“We have gathered here today to thank God for seven centuries of the history of our church in the Ukrainian open spaces,” Bishop Kryvytsky said. “Thank you for every person that history remembers — and who does not remember, because every person was a “brick” here. They built a Living Church here, The Church of the saved, whom Jesus Christ redeemed with his blood.”
The solemn celebration was also attended by the Metropolitan of Lviv, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, bishops from all dioceses of Ukraine, heads of structures of orders and congregations that work on the territory of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, representatives of the Polish diplomatic corps, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary, deputy head of the Department for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers and other guests of honor.
Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, speaking about the importance of the anniversary of the diocese, said: “Celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, we thank the Lord for the gift of faith, for the pastors who served here for centuries, and for the faithful, including martyrs and saints, for the benefactors who contributed to the cause of evangelization. The church always relies in its activities on the deposit of the received faith and on the communion of saints, which means that today is celebrated not only by us but also by those who lived and worked here before. At the same time, we have a great responsibility to those who will come after us. This responsibility includes our spiritual growth, our ability to evangelize others, and our concern for other people’s material needs. These are very important responsibilities that we can’t always perform properly. Therefore, we appeal to the Lord with two main pleadings: to encourage and inspire our actions, to guide us in everything, as well as to compensate for our shortcomings with his mercy and help in those things that we cannot achieve with our human strength.”
After the end of Mass, the celebration of the anniversary continued on the street near the Church of St. Alexander. The Musical Youth Ensemble from Zhytomyr “Rejoice” performed on the stage.
An important part of the holiday was also the presentation of the new coat of arms of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr. Assistant bishop of the diocese Oleksandr Yazlovetsky spoke in detail about its meaning and symbolism:
“Thanks to the symbolism of the coat of arms, we can learn more about the spirituality of its bearer or bearers, whether it is people or the area. Until now, our diocese did not have a coat of arms — historical sources do not say anything about it; therefore, it probably did not exist. We found a draft coat of arms of the Kyiv-Zhytomyr diocese, dated approximately 1875-1900 — it depicted Hagia Sophia against the background of a Silver Circle, in Golden clothes and a black raincoat, in front of which were her three daughters: Vera, Nadezhda and Lyubov (Faith, Hope and Love). But St. Sophia served as a symbol of Zhytomyr, where there was then an episcopal see. Today, the cathedral is located in Kyiv, so it was important for us to create a new coat of arms. We chose blue and green because blue is the color of Mary, the color of heaven and holiness, and Green is the color of life, friendship and victory. The star on the coat of arms symbolizes the Mother of God because the mother of God of Berdychiv is the patroness of our diocese; the eight corners of the star are the eight beatitudes that she embodies. The sword is a symbol of Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Kyiv and defender of our diocese. Its point is pointed downwards: this means that it is the defender’s sword, not the attacker’s; but it will rise up if necessary. The vine branch on a green background is our diocese, the branch of God’s vineyard that was constantly being pruned, but it was growing again, and the fruits that it brought: martyrs, vocation, faith that our believers kept.
I would also like to draw your attention to the pastoral depicted on the coat of arms. This is our own Kyiv pastoral. When the structures of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine were restored in 1991 and Jan Purvinsky became bishop, Metropolitan Ignatiy Tokarchuk of Przemysl came to him for ordination. The Metropolitan brought this pastoral as a gift, explaining that it previously belonged to the bishops of Kyiv, but during the persecution, it was taken out of the country. We don’t know which bishops used it or who owned it, but it is the pastoral of the local bishops of Kyiv.”