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Ukrainian artists turn instruments of death into life-giving icons

King Charles III of England recently received a special gift from Ukraine. While visiting the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London, the king was presented with an icon painted on a board from a wooden ammunition box.

During a ceremony in which the king formally opened a centre in London for refugees from the war in Ukraine, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Eparchy of the Holy Family in London presented him with an icon of the Mother of God of Tenderness. The icon is from the studio of Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofiia Atlantova, a married couple who are both artists and who founded the project “Icons on Ammo Boxes,” also known as “Buy an Icon – Save a Life.” 

“It was a great honour for us, and we are very proud now of it,” said Atlantova, speaking from the couple’s home near Kyiv.

“I hope that the king will think a little more about Ukraine, for it’s not only an icon, but it’s also a story about our country, about our war, about our situation. And by this project, we’ve tried to tell everyone who sees these icons that we have a real war. When you see it on TV or on the news or on the internet, you can’t realize that it’s real.

But when you see a real wooden ammo box that held real ammunition that was fired, it makes a very different impression.”

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