On October 11, 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarch announced its support for Ukraine’s effort to create an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, moving out from under Moscow’s patronage for the first time since 1686. It’s a move with long historical roots that was finally realized due to current political tensions, and it has incensed the Russian Orthodox Church leadership, who may break from the church leadership in Istanbul in Christianity’s biggest rupture in a thousand years.
The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is the crown jewel of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, a complex housing numerous churches, an active monastery, a theological academy, museums, and a network of underground caves containing saintly relics. Its history stretches back nearly a thousand years and it draws pilgrims and worshippers from around the world. The Lavra itself falls under the jurisdiction of Moscow, as that has been the only officially recognized branch of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine for centuries, and its fate following the establishment of an official Ukrainian church is contentious. This is a look at life in the Lavra, guided by ancient tradition and spirituality.