In Lviv, a modest apartment is a shrine to the faith of martyrs

26 August 2019, 16:34 | Monitoring | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

John Burger

Aleteia, June 23, 2019

The cobblestone streets of Lviv in Western Ukraine are quaint, but if one has to walk through them on a rainy day, it’s a challenge to keep one’s feet dry. The ages have made the stones uneven, and puddles form in the most inconvenient places. But because the old part of Lviv is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the cobblestone streets, which date from when this area was part of the Habsburg Empire, cannot be modified.

Nevertheless, a walk around town, in any weather, is an architectural feast for the eyes. Amid all the old world charm in a city that is reminiscent of Vienna, it’s easy to walk right past the unassuming building housing the Apartment/Museum of Blessed Bishop and Martyr Vasyl Velychkovsky.

That would not have bothered Velychkovsky, who didn’t want to call attention to his residence in the years when he lived there, 1955-1969 — especially not from the Soviet secret police.

And a random visitor to the apartment in those years might not notice anything out of the ordinary. Entering the flat after climbing a flight of stairs, one would see a small room with a twin-sized bed, nightstand, armoire, and breakfast table. In a corner was a bookshelf and next to it a low dresser with some ordinary household items on top: a shallow dish, a goblet, a jewelry box. A few icons adorned the walls—probably not unusual, considering the deeply entrenched religious sense among the people, even if they were living under an atheistic regime.

But that dresser in the corner was actually the most important place in this apartment. In the privacy of this dwelling’s principal resident, or in the company of special visitors, it was transformed into an altar. The goblet became a chalice; the dish, a paten; the jewelry box, a tabernacle. A wall lamp, somewhat resembling a gaudy Christmas decoration, became the vigil lamp.

In hushed tones, Fr. Vasyl Velychkovsky conducted the Divine Liturgy, providing the Eucharist for himself and whatever Catholics were visiting him.

Beginning in 1946, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Soviet Union did not exist—officially, that is. It was made illegal, and although members of the Church who wanted to keep practicing religion openly could join the Russian Orthodox Church, many preferred to continue practicing in secret.

The bishops of the Greek Catholic Church had been arrested in 1945, and priests who were discovered to continue providing the sacraments could also be arrested.

Vasyl Velychkovsky, born in 1903 in Stanislaviv (present-day Ivano-Frankivsk), became a Redemptorist priest in his 20s. After spending some time preaching missions in northwestern Ukraine, he became the head of a monastery in Ternopil. It was from there that he was arrested by the Soviets in 1945, accused of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda.

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Last comments

  • Zenia | 20 September 2019, 16:38

    пробачаюсь, для Александрії.))

  • Zenia | 20 September 2019, 16:37

    Котра вона буде за чергою - це вже не так важливо! Важливіше те, що проти Константинополя ця церква теж не піде, бо та "велика" росія для Антіохії що є, що нема.)))

  • Zenia | 20 September 2019, 16:32

    А кто здесь врёт, кроме тебя, лживый москаль Мишка?))

  • enzian | 18 September 2019, 16:43

    Ніякий з тебе пророк, Мішка.

  • Paraeklezyarh | 18 September 2019, 16:37

    Котрою за чергою в признання автокефалії ПЦУ буде православна церква Александрії одному Богу відомо . Але факт співслужіння та євхаристії є.