Soldier Nazar Barylko who lost his leg in the war is at the helm of Ukrainian delegation
Social multi-media project 'The Victors' launched by 1+1 Media's TSN and VIVA magazine is going global.
After several successful exhibits in Ukraine, the European Parliament and Canada, 'The Victors' arrived in the French town of Lourdes. The exhibit was showcased during the annual warriors pilgrimage. This year, the Ukrainian delegation was one of the largest, and at the helm of it was a young hero Nazar Barylko who lost his leg at the front in the east.
Barylko who's story is featured in the project marched in front of the Ukrainian group. The key component of the pilgrimage is to see the icon of Virgin Mary. The young soldier says he didn't hesitate to kneel down on his prosthetic leg to place the candle because at that moment the atmosphere in the audience was incredible.
Nazar Barylko, Ukrainian soldier, 'The Victors' hero: "It was bit tough but I had to kneel down, it was important to me to leave a candle there, and the reaction of the people - it was epic. nearly 30 thousand people, an epic feeling really, I still get goosebumps."
Solomiya Vitvitska, news anchor at 1+1 and the curator of 'The Victors', joined Barylko on Sunday in France.
Solomiya Vitvitska, 1+1 TV news anchor: "Thousands of military men and women from 32 countries all traveled to Lourdes to pray for world peace This is also where our exhibit "The Victors" is on display under the open sky."
Although Barylko became a popular face among the military pilgrims, not many recognise him in the photographs because his prosthetic leg is not visible under the uniform. Most ask about the situation in Ukraine.
Fellow army officers say they are extremely moved by the photographs: "The photos are very inspiring. It's our job - you know, the soldiers risk a lot. This is war, of course, we know the risks we are taking, anything can happen on the battlefield. But they're alive and it's better to start the life over with a smile than die in the war."
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The pilgrimage of the Ukrainian delegation was organized by Patriarchal Pilgrimage Centre of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This year's delegation included everyone from cadets to chaplains to veterans of the war in eastern Ukraine. Their journey took about a week by bus nearly through the whole Europe.
Father Lyubomyr Yavorsky, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Pilgrimage Leader: "The story of Lourdes began when nations that were fighting against one another decided to live in peace, we can only achieve peace with God's help, and say sorry and forgive. It's important, this large Ukrainian delegation - more than 90 military men and women all praying for peace here. I believe we will have peace soon."
That hope was echoed by thousands of army personnel from every corner of the globe. The evening ended with a candlelit prayer for peace.