“Every time I drift to sleep and wake in the morning, I am with Ukrainians” (Because the Pope daily prays before the icon of the Mother of God that Patriarch Svyatoslav gave him)
Last Sunday, Jan. 28th, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome welcomed Pope Francis. His warm words acknowledged the contribution that our faithful have made to the unity of the Church through their centuries of faithfulness in spite of unspeakable persecutions.
In a personal way he also thanked God for three historic figures of our Church from the recent past. He spoke of Patriarch Josyf Slipyj whose suffering sustained our Church and laid the foundation for its resurgence today.
The second and most personally significant figure he mentioned was bishop Chmil who died forty years ago and is buried in the crypt of St. Sophia.
“This person did many good things for me,” the Pope stated. Through him, Pope Francis “discovered the beauty of [our] Liturgy”, the “living witness of faith” of our people who suffered so much under the Soviets. Fr. Chmil taught Pope Francis to serve at the altar.
Finally the Pope spoke of Patriarch Lyubomyr with whom he was installed as a Cardinal. The Patriarch was an example of “love, .. goodness, … and prayerfulness.”
The Pope also acknowledged the many Ukrainian women who are working in Italy ministering to the elderly.