Lviv's Armenian Cathedral removes Christ statue for safekeeping amid Ukraine conflict

A picture of a statue of Christ being removed from the Armenian Cathedral of Lviv for safekeeping has gone viral on Twitter. 

The picture, which was posted by Tim Le Berre on March 5, shows five men lowering a statue of Christ through a wall. A follow-up tweet from Le Berre depicts the statue wrapped in packaging foam sheets ahead of transport. 

According to Le Berre, the statue will “be stored in a bunker for protection,” and the last time the statue was removed was World War II. 

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Lviv, which is in western Ukraine near Poland, was subject to airstrikes. Since the invasion began, Lviv has become a “western capital” of the country as Kyiv, the capital, came under attack. 

The Armenian Cathedral of Lviv, which was first constructed in 1363, has an interesting history that has been marked by a series of fires, wars, and other societal upheaval. From the 1600s until 1945, the cathedral was home to the Armenian Catholic population of Lviv. 

In 1945, following the Second World War and the annexation of Lviv by the Soviet Union, Soviet authorities arrested Rev. Dionizy Kajetanowicz, the cathedral’s rector, after he refused to become an Orthodox priest. Kajetanowicz died in a gulag nine years later. During this time, most Polish Armenian Catholics were forced to leave Lviv for Poland. 

The Armenian Catholic Archdiocese of Lviv has been vacant since 1938. 

In 2000, the cathedral became custody of the newly-established Eparchy of Ukraine of the Armenian Apostolic Church, but Armenian Catholics are still permitted to use the cathedral for liturgies.

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