“The windows of the remaining cars on the grounds had been shattered and their batteries had been stolen. The shock wave blew out the windows of the seminary.”
After consulting with the Ukrainian military, the group concluded that Russian soldiers had occupied the seminary. When they retreated, they took anything they deemed of value with them, including monstrances, a Bible with a decorated cover, and the chalice that John Paul II had used when he celebrated Mass in Kyiv on June 24, 2001.
Mikhalkiv and his companions had made the trip to assess when staff and students could return to the seminary in the Latin Rite Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr. They concluded that they would have to finish this semester at Horodok, in the neighboring diocese.
“What the next semester will be like, it is difficult to say now, because there are many other practical matters,” the priest said.
“For example, there is not even crockery and utensils. We will have to buy them, and right now it is quite difficult to do that.”
As for the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, Father Mikhalkiv noted a further detail. While there is a gaping hole where the face used to be, the facial features themselves — including Our Lady’s dark, wide eyes — were found almost perfectly intact.
“Interestingly, the face of the Virgin Mary has been preserved,” Mikhalkiv said. “I have already started to pick up some pieces, I am sure we will restore it. It will be a special sign for us. Time will tell.”
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