Russian missile strike destroys historic Odessa cathedral
According to Oleh Kiper, the regional governor of Odesa, one person was killed and 14 were hospitalized in the Russian missile strike on Sunday. The missiles set the Transfiguration Cathedral on fire, badly damaging its roof and artworks.
The cathedral, which belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was built in the late 18th century, and had already suffered serious damages during Joseph Stalin’s atheist attack in the 1930s. They rebuilt it in the early 2000s and it was consecrated by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Kirill fully supported Putin’s war in Ukraine, he blessed the troops and said that Russian soldiers who die in battle are performing “a sacrifice that cleanses away all of that person’s sins”.
A Russian missile blew a large hole in the roof of the cathedral, collapsed the altar and left several walls charred by fire on Sunday morning. Schools, residential buildings and a revered 19th-century mansion also suffered destruction.
Myroslav Vdodovych, the cathedral’s chief priest is mourning the destruction along with the congregation. “This is barbarism, it’s terrorism. The people who did this are not people at all. I was one of the first people here, because I got notified when the alarm signals went off. It was a direct hit, right in the altar area” he said.
According to Andriy Palchuk, the archdeacon of the cathedral “The destruction is enormous; half of the cathedral was left without a roof, and the central piles and foundation were destroyed. All the windows and stucco moulding were blown out. There was a fragmentary fire, the part where icons and candles are sold in the church caught fire. It was all on fire, burning.”
Members of the congregation spent all Sunday clearing debris and rescuing objects. They recovered the copy of an icon called the Kasperovskaya Mother of God, which protected the city for a long time. Father Maksimilian said: “This icon has always saved Odesa; during the Crimean war, they held a prayer with it during the British bombardment of Odesa and a fog descended on the city, thwarting the attack. The copy was damaged last night, but it survived by a miracle.”
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has denounced the Russian invasion and declared its independence from Moscow. The priests unambiguously condemned Russia for the attack. They held a service outside the building, where believers lit candles and prayed.