Fast-unfolding shifts between Orthodox churches in Ukraine come into focus this Sunday at the Kyiv-Perchersk Lavra monastery complex, where both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) will celebrate the Divine Liturgy simultaneously. 

The UOC-MP, whose lease expired on March 29, intends to stay and hold seven liturgies in various churches on the grounds of the Lavra. However, the service will not be held in the main church: the Dormition Cathedral.

On Palm Sunday, April 9, Metropolitan Epiphany, Primate of the independent OCU, subordinate to the Patriarch of Constantinople, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. 

The OCU press service on Thursday, April 6 reported: "The Most Blessed Bishop will offer prayers to God for the defenders of the Motherland, for the victory of Ukraine and for all our Ukrainian people, and will also bless with holy water the willow branches, which the faithful carry with joy to the temple of God on this day." In many Slavic churches, willow branches are used in lieu of the palms or olive branches one finds in warmer climates.

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The service is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Trapezna (Refectory) Church of Anthony and Theodosius on the grounds of the Upper Lavra. The OCU called for an understanding approach to the possible restrictions that will apply in connection with the martial law.

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At the same time, the UOC-MP will also celebrate liturgies on the grounds of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on April 9. Metropolitan Kliment of Nizhyn and Prilutsky clarified in a comment to Kyiv Post that no liturgy is planned in the main church of the Lavra, the Dormition Cathedral: "No, there will be no liturgy on Palm Sunday in the Dormition Cathedral. It is planned in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross. The first liturgy starts at 6 in the morning, then at 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the morning. I think there will be about seven liturgies in different churches.”

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Today, April 7, is one of the biggest Orthodox holidays in the church calendar, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the OCU held a liturgy for the first time in the Dormition Cathedral of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Those present prayed for the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Ukraine's quick victory over the occupying Russian invasion, and for the civilians of Ukraine.

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