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His Beatitude Sviatoslav to lead the pilgrimage of the UGCC Synod of Bishops to Florence

Ukrainian Parish of St. Archangel Michael, Florence, September 13-15, invites to participate in a Church-wide pilgrimage to the Florentine Cathedral to honor the relics of St. John Chrysostom. The pilgrimage will be led by His Beatitude Sviatoslav, accompanied by the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC.

Two historic events will be commemorated in the pilgrimage: 580 years since the proclamation of the Union of Florence (July 6, 1439) and 55 years of the visit of His Beatitude Patriarch Josyf Slipyj to Florence (January 24-26, 1964), who wanted to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and our first Cardinal Isidore.

 Pilgrimage Program:

September 13, 21:00 Basilica        SS. Annunziata – Akathist to the Blessed Virgin

September 14, 18:00 Battistero – Akathist to St. John Chrysostom

September 15 1:30 pm Duomo Cathedral – Hierarchical Divine Liturgy

17:00 Palazzo Vecchio (Salone 500) – Meeting with the Mayor of Florence

The pilgrimage will begin on Friday, September 13, at 9:00 pm with the Akathist service to the Virgin Mary in the Sanctuary of Florence, in the Basilica of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary                       (SS. Annunziata). In the dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Ukrainian community of Florence, along with all pilgrims, will pray for peace and an end to the war in Ukraine and around the world. And everyone also will remember the righteous Giorgio La Pira, Mayor of Florence 1951–1965, a tireless peacebuilder and a witness of Christian charity, who had a friendly relationship with Patriarch Josyf Slipyj. This year marks the 60th anniversary of La Pira’s pilgrimage to Fatima. He embarked on a pilgrimage to Moscow and Kyiv, which took place on August 15, 1959, to convey to the leaders of the Soviet authorities the message of Our Lady of Fatima about the conversion of Russia to peace. Continuing Fatima’s prophetic mission, La Pira instructed to print the text of the Akathist to the Virgin Mary and send it to all the bishops of Italy, who were then preparing for the Second Vatican Council, asking them to promote the knowledge of Eastern spirituality in order to further enliven the faith and hope of Christians and to pray for peace in the world.

On Saturday, September 14, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, together with the Bishops of the Synod of the UGCC, will arrive in Florence. At 18:00 in the Baptistery (Battistero) together with the local Archbishop Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, priests and pilgrims, the Akathist to St. John Chrysostom will be served (according to the Gregorian calendar, the Saint’s feast will be on this day.)

The culminating day of the pilgrimage will be Sunday, September 15. At 13:30, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by His Beatitude Sviatoslav together with the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, Florence Archbishop, Ukrainian and Italian priests. This Liturgy will be a good opportunity, from the heart of Florence – its cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, where the Act of Unification of the Church of Christ was signed on July 6, 1439 – to hear the voice of the UGCC, a witness of undivided Christianity, the heir to Volodymyr’s Baptism, the Church of the Ukrainian People, which cherishes good relations with the Mother-Church of ancient Constantinople and remains today, like millennia ago, in complete unity with the apostle Peter’s successor – His Holiness the Pope.

All the services of the three-day pilgrimage will be sung by the Felicio Hutsul Folk Chamber Choir.

We sincerely invite everyone to Florence to pray in a joint prayer for the unity of the Church of Christ and to confirm the identity of our UGCC, which celebrates its 30th anniversary of legalization on September 17 this year. May the UGCC holy martyrs of the  communist persecutions of the twentieth century, martyrs for the unity of the Church of Kyiv with the successor of the Apostle Peter pray for us and strengthen everyone in these difficult times.

Fr. Volodymyr Voloshyn