Photo: – 30/8/17

Thousands of Orthodox faithful have completed one of the largest and most ancient cross processions in Ukraine in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. The participants arrived to the territory of the Pochaev Dormition Lavra on Friday, August 25, having begun in Kamenets-Podolsky in southwestern Ukraine on August 19, reports theInformation-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

According to various estimates, more than 20-25,000 pilgrims took part in the prayerful procession. According to participants of last year’s procession, the number of worshipers in 2017 increased significantly. Participants included both children and the elderly. Most were processing to Pochaev not for their first time, including whole families and parishes. Participants came from various parts of Ukraine, as well as Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Russia.

With prayer to the Theotokos and Paschal hymns and the greeting “Christ is Risen,” the faithful entered the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra in the second half of the day on August 25. According to tradition, the pilgrims were met by the brothers of the monastery with the festive ringing of the bells and the sprinkling of the miles of pilgrims with holy water. The blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the abbot of the monastery Metropolitan Vladimir were conveyed to the pilgrims in their greeting to the monastery as well.

Following a prayer of thanksgiving for the prayerful labors, the brothers of the monastery invited all the pilgrims to partake of a common meal. The doors of all the monastery’s churches are open for the thousands of pilgrims to spend the night. Many in Pochaev and the surrounding villages have also opened their doors to pilgrims.

The procession began in Kamenets-Podolsky on the feast of the Transfiguration and covered a distance of 210 km (130 miles) in six days. A procession from the Holy Trinity Brailovsky Convent in Vinnyts’ka also arrived at the Pochaev lavra the same day, having covered a distance of 250 km (155 miles).