Ukrainian Greek Catholic Dedications (And Some History)

The world is crying for Ukraine right now as war has broken out by the attacks from Russia. Although Ukraine is largely an Orthodox Christian country, there is a significant Catholic population there, or more specifically, the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church. This is a part of the Eastern Catholic Church, and you can read our article on Eastern Catholics 101 here. This is especially horrible for the Ukrainian Catholics as their faith was literally outlawed under Russian control. Today let’s take a look at some very popular Ukrainian Green Catholic Dedications that would be the perfect ones to invoke for the current intentions of Ukraine. 

This article was written by Carrie Chuff, a Byzantine Rite Catholic mom. (Ukrainian Greek Catholic)

Amid news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Catholics across the world have reached out to support Ukrainians with prayer and monetary support. As a Ukrainian-Greek Catholic, whose Patriarch lives in Ukraine and whose faith traditions and heritage originate from this land, my heart is broken over what is happening right now.

History Of The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Among the 23 sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is the largest. In Ukraine itself, it makes up about 9.4% of the total population, behind non-believers, Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and Orthodox Church of Ukraine—Kyiv Patriarchate, and has approximately 4.1 million members worldwide. It traces its roots to the acceptance of Christianity by Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv in 988, and through the Great Schism of 1054, when the Roman Catholic Church in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Churches in the East were excommunicated from one another. The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church arose from the 1596 Union of Brest, during which Ruthenian Orthodox eparchies (dioceses) in the then-Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth decided to re-enter communion with the Pope of Rome.

Ukrainian Greek Catholics Persecuted

The history of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church can be a bit complicated, and throughout the centuries, our Church has endured many injustices and tragedies. Under the Soviet regime after World War II, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed, and members were persecuted mercilessly. Church properties were seized and given to the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukrainian Catholics kept their faith underground, in secret, for decades, risking persecution, imprisonment, and even death.

Unkrainian Greek Catholics Under Ukrainian Independence

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine, Ukrainian Greek-Catholics emerged from the underground, and those in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora all over the world celebrated our Church’s renewal with great hope.

Is The Ukrainian Green Church Just For Ukrainians? 

It’s important to note that in order to be a member of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, one does not need to be Ukrainian or even have any Slavic heritage at all! Our Church’s unique traditions originated in this land, but as Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk has said, “We are not a Church for Ukrainians; we are a Church FROM Ukraine, FOR the world!” Anyone from any heritage or background is
welcome to visit our churches, and even become a member if you so choose.

A Roman Catholic who visits a Ukrainian Catholic (or any Eastern Catholic) Divine Liturgy will fulfill their Sunday or Holy Day
obligation, and a well-disposed Catholic is welcome to receive Holy Communion in our parishes, just as they would in their own parish.

Ukrainian Saints To Invoke For Prayers

Some devotions that are important to Ukrainian Catholics might not be as familiar to Roman Catholics, however. Here are just a few of the Saints that many Ukrainian Catholics in Ukraine and around the world hold dear.

1. Saints Volodymyr and Olga

Often pictured together in iconography, these two are considered to be “Equal to the Apostles,” a title given to certain Saints in the Eastern Churches because of their heroic efforts in spreading the Holy Faith.

Saint Volodymyr the Great, Grand Prince of Kyiv, was ruler of Kyivan-Rus’ from 980 to 1015. In 988, he converted to Christianity, and spread the Faith throughout his land. His grandmother, Princess Olga of Kyiv, had converted to Christianity in the 950s, and though it wouldn’t be until Volodymyr’s conversion to Christianity that the Faith became more widely accepted in Kyivan-Rus’, her efforts to spread the Faith were untiring, and she built churches in Kyiv and elsewhere.

You will often see these two portrayed, either together or separately, in the iconography or stained-glass windows of Ukrainian Catholic churches. We recognize their acceptance of Christianity as the foundation of our Church.

2. Saint Anthony of the Kyiv Caves

Many Roman Catholics have a strong devotion to St. Anthony of Padua, and may even recognize that Eastern Catholics tend to have a similarly strong devotion to St. Anthony the Great, an Egyptian desert father who is known as the “Father of All Monks.” But there is yet another Saint Anthony that is well-loved by Ukrainian Catholics, and this is St. Anthony of Kyiv, also known as St. Anthony of the Caves, or St. Anthony of the Kyiv Caves.

St. Anthony was born in Lyubech, in present-day Ukraine, around the year 983. He was drawn to the spiritual life from a young age, and eventually went to become a hermit monk on Mount Athos, the famous island center of Eastern Christian monasticism. In 1011, the abbot of his monastery gave St. Anthony the task of spreading monasticism to his native land of Kyivan-Rus’, which had only recently accepted Christianity.

St. Anthony returned, and founded several monasteries in Kyivan-Rus’. Eventually, he gained followers who wanted to live the ascetic life with him, and together with St. Theodosius of Kyiv, he founded the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra, or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves. In this way, he is considered to be the founder of Monasticism in Kyivan-Rus’.

3. The Mother of God of Zarvanytsia

The icon of the Mother of God of Zarvanytsia, in the Ternopil Oblast in Western Ukraine, is one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations in Ukraine.

In 1240, Kyiv was invaded by the Mongols, and churches and monasteries were destroyed. As the tradition goes, a Kyivan monk who escaped the invaders stopped in the woods on his way to Terebovlya in the Ternopil Oblast. He prayed to the Mother of God for his war-torn land, and fell asleep while praying. In a dream, the Theotokos appeared to him and blessed him. When he awoke, he found an icon of the Mother of God and the Child Jesus next to a new spring of water, and in honor of this miracle, he built a chapel there. The news quickly spread, and people from near and far came to see this miraculous icon and pray for their needs. Many were, and
continue to be, miraculously cured of illnesses in the presence of this icon. It remains a very popular pilgrimage destination.

Over the centuries since the appearance of this miraculous icon, many tragedies have befallen the Ukrainian people: plunders, fires, damage from war, the oppressive Soviet regime that banned the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and oppressed and persecuted her members. Despite all this, the icon was kept safe and continues to be a source of great consolation and strength.

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4. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych

St. Josaphat was born around the year 1580 in what was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. While he was still a boy, the Union of Brest took place, which brought some Ruthenian Orthodox Bishops in union with Rome, giving rise to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. At the time, however, union with Rome was not unanimously agreed upon among the people, and many
disagreements—some violent—took place.

St. Josaphat grew up amidst these disagreements, and witnessed the dismaying results. Still, he grew up as a pious boy who loved to attend Church services, and through the influence of two Jesuit priests, was encouraged in his vocation to monastic life. In his early 20s, he entered the monastery, and became friends with Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky, a former Calvinist who had converted to Catholicism, and then to the Byzantine Rite, at the encouragement of Pope Clement VIII. Josyf and St. Josaphat both shared a passion to encourage reunion with Rome.

St. Josaphat became known for his austerity in the monastery. He had extraordinary zeal for his Faith, unwavering devotion to Divine Liturgy and the Sacraments, and great kindness to the poor.

He was consecrated a Bishop in 1617, and was later faced with the daunting task of encouraging the local people to accept union with Rome. He faced stiff opposition from many, but spent his time organizing synods, creating a catechism, and enforcing reforms where needed. He did win over a large number of people, but many were left discontent, and strongly opposed the reforms and reunion with Rome. Slander and hostility against St. Josaphat grew, and he resolved that he would gladly offer his life for union with Rome. On November 12, 1623, while visiting Vitebsk in modern-day Belarus, St. Josaphat was martyred by a mob who had gathered outside his place of residence. Afterwards, even some of his most ardent opposers later became supporters of union with Rome.

For Ukrainian Catholics, particularly, St. Josaphat represents the union with Rome that we lovingly embrace, despite any hardships and misunderstandings it may sometimes cause.

5. The New Martyrs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church

On July 27, 2001, in Lviv, Ukraine, Pope John Paul II beatified many 20 th century martyrs of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church: Bishop Mykola Charnetsky and 24 companions, martyred between the years 1935 and 1973, and Father Omelyan Kovch, martyred in 1944. (At the same time, he also beatified Theodore Romzha of the Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church, who was martyred in 1947, and Sister Josaphata Hordashevska, the Ukrainian Catholic co-foundress of the Congregation of the Servants of Mary Immaculate, who died from tuberculosis of the bone in 1919.) Biographies of these Saints can be found here.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was suppressed and persecuted for decades following the establishment of the Soviet state after World War II. These holy martyrs are examples to us of perseverance, courage, heroic charity, and the holiness to which we should strive each day.

They are a testament to the deep and courageous faith of the Ukrainian people, persevering even in the midst of tremendous suffering. They remind us that martyrdom is not something that only happened to Christians in the distant past, but even into the modern day. May they intercede for us, most especially for peace in the world, and inspire us with true love for one another!

How You Can Help

My Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat, other Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Eparchies in the USA, and many other Catholic organizations are fundraising humanitarian support for Ukraine. Click here to support.

St. Josaphat Eparchy Logo

Please continue to pray for the people of Ukraine.

Free “Pray For Ukraine” Prayer Pack Now Available!

You can click over here and get a full pack with printable prayer cards, triptychs, icon coloring page, a candle wrap, and more to help your family prayer for Ukraine. It’s totally free for everyone to print!


More Resources:

You can find more resources for Byzantine moms here

Author Of This Article:

Carrie Chuff is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children. As a young woman, she spent five years of formation in a Roman Catholic convent of active/contemplative religious Sisters whose apostolate included retreats and catechesis. After realizing God had other plans, she left and later met and married her husband, Derek. Eventually, they both rediscovered their Eastern Catholic heritage and embraced it fully as members of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, a Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church which is in full Communion with Rome. She resides with her family in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

You can find Carrie’s charming videos about her time in the convent and more on her TikTok page and you can follow her Instagram here.