Once again, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Berdychiv, Ukraine was a place of pilgrimage on Sunday, July 17. The threat of bombardments kept most pilgrims away this year, but nonetheless the Latin-rite Ukrainian bishops, accompanied by special guest Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, gathered with some 1,000 faithful in the lower church of the shrine.
For a long time Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been supporting the renovation of this beautiful basilica, as well as the monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, and a lot of work has already been done on this historical site, founded in the XVII Century, to repair the damage of the Soviet era.
The lower church is a part of a crypt, and the Carmelite Fathers open it for use as a bomb shelter for the local population during the war. In this way, Our Lady continues to protect her children, both spiritually and physically.
Living the faith under shelling
Father Konstantyn Morozow, a Capuchin brother from Vinnytsia, wrote a short message to ACN. One of his parishioners lives near the city’s central square. On July 14, during a heavy attack on the town, she had been praying the rosary in front of an image of Our Lady, at home. Suddenly, she says, she heard an inner voice asking her to leave the house immediately. A couple of minutes later, missiles hit and damaged the square and surrounding buildings. Her home was heavily damaged. The image of Our Lady, however, remained untouched.
—Father Jurij Blazejewski