Overlooking destroyed Russian armor in Trek to Bucha’s poster
After much consideration – and a bit of inspiration - we have added an image to our poster of Saint Volodymyr in the clouds, a 10th century ruler at the heart of Russia’s twisted claim to Ukraine.
On this day of celebration in Ukraine as they retake Kherson City, millions will be praying in Ukrainian churches with images of Saint Volodymyr prominently displayed. Because, while Ukraine’s Christian past goes back to Saint Andrew in the first century, it was not fully Christianized until Volodymyr the Great ordered the baptism of the entire region in 988. Volodymyr the Great (encyclopediaofukraine.com)
You see, St. Volodymyr was from Kyiv, which was the capital of the Kievan Rus' empire long before Moscow was even a spot on the map. Russia co-opts and corrupts history by placing him at the center of their culture when convenient. This is not new, but it is critically important now as Ukraine fights for its freedom and national identity.
Saint Volodymyr’s icon therefore holds a central place in the theologies caught up in the war. A schism is developing within the Orthodox Church in which Russian Patriarch Kirill is supporting Russian nationalism and Putin in the war, while the Ukrainian Orthodox church has largely repudiated these dictates. Russian Patriarch Kirill Says Dying In Ukraine 'Washes Away All Sins' (rferl.org).
This image holds very special significance for me personally as we took it from the picture of Fr. Yaroslav standing in front of it at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Boston in March 2022. Right where he called down a guardian angel to watch over me on my trek to Ukraine later that month.
It is a war fought on many levels. But for Ukrainians, Saint Volodymyr is clearly on the side of his Kyiv homeland and watching out for quixotic American documentarians who happen along to tell stories of its Spirit.