On April 19, Christians from the Orthodox and Greek Catholic confessions celebrate one of the holiest days in the Christian tradition – Easter. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly all churches in Ukraine have been recommended to close, and for the faithful to stay home and adhere to social distancing and quarantine norms. This includes not attending church for Easter, but to watch televised and streamed religious services instead. But not all churches in Ukraine stuck to that recommendation – churches controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have remained open, and their clergy have called on parishioners to attend services, instead of remaining home. According to police data, nearly 130,000 Ukrainians gathered at churches to celebrate Easter.
In Kyiv, at the Illinska Church, run by the Moscow Patriarchate, sanitizer sits at the entrance to the church itself. People aren’t allowed in unless they clean their hands, while a priest from the church consecrates Easter baskets – one at a time.
Easter at the Illinska Church. Kyiv, Ukraine, April 19, 2020. Photo: Anastasiya Vlasova / hromadske
The Greek Catholic church of Saint Nicholas the Good in Kyiv is closed for quarantine. They held their liturgy online, and the church stands empty of faithful. Only the remains of unfinished road repairs lay out on the street, left by utility workers who are most likely planning to finish after the holidays.
Churches belonging to the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine – the Church of Mykola Prytyska and the Pyrohoshcha Dormition of the Mother of God Church – are likewise closed.
The Church of Saint Nicholas the Good (Greek Catholic) is closed for Easter. Kyiv, Ukraine, April 19, 2020. Photo: Anastasiya Vlasova / hromadske
The closed Pyrohoshcha Dormition of the Mother of God Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). Kyiv, Ukraine, April 19, 2020. Photo: Anastasiya Vlasova / hromadske
The closed Church of Mykola Prytyska (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). Kyiv, Ukraine, April 19, 2020. Photo: Anastasiya Vlasova / hromadske
There are noticeably more people at the Ascension Convent, belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate, than in other churches in Kyiv’s historic Podil neighborhood. The faithful are mostly in masks, but not everyone adheres to the recommend 2 meter distance between each other, and not even all the priests are wearing masks.
Easter at the Ascension Convent in Kyiv, Ukraine. April 19, 2020. Photo: Anastasiya Vlasova / hromadske