Lviv Residents Silently Gather at Military Church

Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church has taken on renewed importance since Russian invasion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2022 2:20 PM CST
In Lviv, Residents Gather Silently in Military Church
Worshippers attend Sunday Mass in the Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church in Lviv.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Their hands clasped in prayer and faces ridden with fear and sadness, some residents of Lviv sought consolation at a Sunday Mass at a Catholic church in their western Ukraine city. The 17th-century church was silent during the ceremony, reflecting the moment laden with emotion and concern because of the ongoing Russian invasion. Some people in the church held small papers with the names of their loved ones written on them. Others just stood in silence, their heads bowed during prayer, the AP reports.

Built by Jesuit missionaries, the Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church in Lviv was damaged during World War II and used to store more than 2 million books during the Soviet era. Since it reopened in 2011 after renovation, it has served as a military church, offering prayer and consolation to Ukrainian service personnel. In the 11 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, the church has become more important than ever, even as Lviv itself hasn't seen intense shelling and destruction as other cities in the country. The Rev. Taras Mykhalchuk explained that "because the church is the garrison church, priests who preach here are military chaplains."

“First of all, during the last eight years, we have been trying to help the army above all spiritually, to pray with them and to fulfill all of our duties as priests,” he said. Unable to be with the troops in the field because of intense fighting, the priests try to offer consolation also to those who have been left behind and need comfort more than ever, Mykhalchuk said. "We need to understand that together with our military, we are on our land." Mykhalchuk is certain Ukrainian soldiers are "led by love and light" in defending their country. "Love is a very strong feeling, and it is stronger than death," he said.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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