For several years, the Members of the Association of Kiev City had planned to attend the pilgrimage weekend dedicated to Our Lady of Zarvanytsia. Since this year is the 150th Anniversary of the coronation of the Icon, when Father Madickeoski crowned the Icon of our Lady with the golden cover that appears around her and the two crowns sent by Pope Pius XI, the Association was able to attend.
On July 15-16 the Marian Sisters of the Miraculous Medal from Kiev and Zakarpattia, (Transcarpathia) members of Association of the Miraculous Medal of Kiev, and Fr. Michael Talapkanych, C.M. went to this sanctuary and celebrated the pilgrimage weekend.
The story of this icon, briefly, is that Our Lady appeared to a monk in Zarvanytsia. He was fleeing the Mongol invasion of Kiev around 1240 AD. Mary and Jesus appeared to him as in the Icon, where Mary was holding the Baby Jesus above the water flowing from a spring in the ground. The site was venerated by the faithful, especially of the Greek Uniate Catholic Church. Many miracles were reported from washing in the water. In 1867, Pope Pius XI declared this to be a holy pilgrimage site. This is also known as the Ukrainian Lourdes – the largest sanctuary of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Yearly about 100,000 pilgrims from different parts of Ukraine come to Zarvanytsia to pray, and to ask for grace to strengthen their faith and heal their illnesses. They donate their time and prayers while they are here to all the faithful who come.
In this year’s pilgrimage, dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the coronation of the Zarvanytsia miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, the pilgrims prayed for peace and the integrity of the country of the Ukraine. They asked Mary to rid the Ukraine of governmental corruption. The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Prefect of Congregation for the Oriental Churches Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Croatia, Ivan Devchich, all attended the weekend. They prayed to God together with the faithful.
After greeting all of the honored guests, Fr. Michael read a message about the Immaculate Virgin Mary and her Miraculous Medal. During his fifteen minute presentation on the appearance of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure at the Chapel on Rue du Bac in Paris, the pilgrims learned about the Miraculous Medal and the Association. People were very interested in the medal and there were a lot of people willing receive and wear it. Fr. Michael referred the over 100,000 pilgrims to the Miraculous Medal Association’s booth where the members of the Association gave everyone a medal and a flyer to fill out to join the Association.
The members of the Association had prepared for this event for two months. The volunteers tied a thread to each medal, so it could be worn immediately around the neck after receiving it.
Over these two days 48,000 medals were distributed. Also, many pilgrims came to join the Association. Many pilgrims took these little medals home giving great hope and grace to their relatives, friends and acquaintances.
The Miraculous Medal Association of Ukraine and especially of Kiev City, wishes to thank all the organizers who gave them such an opportunity to be together with the other pilgrims to Mary during these days. They are especially overjoyed to have distributed so many medals to Mary’s devotees.
As we pray together “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” let us ask Mary to help us with the grace of her Son to spread her devotion and healing. It is our mission as the Miraculous Medal Association.
Maryna Krutko, volunteer of the Office of Vincentian Family in Ukraine