blood of the covenant
At least eight Ukrainian civilians were killed and 18 wounded in a Russian missile strike on the port city of Odessa on Saturday as Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians prepared to celebrate their most sacred holiday, CNN and The New York Post reported.
Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians calculate the date of Easter according to the old Julian calendar. Western Christians celebrated the holiday one week earlier, on April 17.
Odessa City Council Deputy Petro Obukhov referred to the missiles as "Easter gifts from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," while Zelensky administration official Andriy Yermak said in a statement that among the dead was a three-month-old baby. "Evil will be punished," Yermak added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, attended an Easter vigil service on Saturday night, where he urged Ukrainians not to be consumed by anger. "All of us believe our sunrise will come soon," he said.
In Easter homily, Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine urged the faithful "who suffer innocently from the empire of evil" to regard Easter as a "reminder of God's imminent victory over sin and lawlessness."
"And for the enemies who broke into our Ukrainian home, for the murderers ... who not only did not stop the bloodshed, but only increased it, even in these holy days, Christ's resurrection is a reminder of just retribution and merciless punishment for all the unmerciful," Epiphanius added.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, a close ally of Putin, largely avoided mentioning the war in his homily. "And today, when the world is torn apart by conflicts and contradictions, and hatred, fear and hostility have settled in the hearts of many people, it is especially important not to forget about your Christian calling and show true love for your neighbor ... We must not give in to the temptation of the enemy of the human race, who seeks to destroy the blessed unity among Orthodox Christians," he said.