13:30 May. 1, 2016
Orthodox and Greek Catholics mark the most important Christian holiday
May 1 marks Easter, the biggest Christian feast for Eastern Rite Christians. For Ukrainians, it is one of the most important holidays of the year. People attend overnight Easter Masses to pray and get the blessing from the priest.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko together with his wife Maryna visited several Easter services in Kyiv churches to wish the parishioners Happy Easter. The presidential couple attended a sacred procession at St. Volodymyr Cathedral together with Patriarch Filaret, Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate. Petro and Maryna Poroshenko also visited the Greek-Catholic Church of St. Nicholas (Mykolai), and a church in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
In his official address, President Poroshenko said two years ago Ukraine was weak and exhausted but now "we see it starting to resurrect." He remembered Ukrainian soldiers who died fighting against the Russian-backed separatist forces, saying "These days we commemorate thousands of our defenders who gave their lives for our belief and our freedom, our country, we remember everyone who died because of Russian aggression. We are praying gratefully for everyone who guarded us during the Easter night."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, center, attend an Orthodox Easter service in St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv, May 1, 2016. (AP Photo)
Patriarch Filaret in his Easter address expressed a wish for God to protect Ukraine from enemies both internal and external and help bring peace to the country.
Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, congratulated Christians on Easter and said Ukrainians are "a nation on its way to resurrection."
Servicemen who are now fighting in eastern Ukraine have recorded an Easter greeting video asking Ukrainians to "be brave."