Two Worlds Unite In Prayer Honoring the Birth-Giver of God
On Sunday, October 8, 2017 a shrine of numerous pilgrimages, dedicated to the Birth-Giver of God of Altotting (1489) in the heart of Munich, Germany became a place of a spiritual pilgrimage and renewal for the faithful of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Munich, Germany. His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, fulfilling his pastoral responsibilities of a bishop of the Eparchy of Western Europe of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, visited the faithful of the parish in the place of their weekly worship – a 16th century temple dedicated to the miracle of Altotting.
The day brought together the sacred traditions of Eastern and Western Churches as the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox community celebrated the feast of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God in the temple, where for centuries people of Western Christian tradition prayed in front of the miraculous image of the Mother of God of Bavaria.
The historical narrative about Our Lady of Altotting (Bavaria) states that perhaps the most famous miracle occurred in the year 1489. A young boy had drowned, and his mother, full of faith, brought his body to lay at the feet of the image of the Mother of God, seeking a miracle. She was not disappointed, as her son was restored to life before many witnesses. From that time on, the chapel became a popular place of pilgrimage.
The emperor Ludwig gave a small statue of the Mother of God, carved in Italy to the ancient monastery; and the place was soon famous both for its shrine and various miracles. Numerous churches were built in honor of the Birth-Giver of God of Bavaria, among them a chapel that dates back to 16th century, where a parish for Ukrainian Orthodox Christians was established several years ago.
Celebrating the feast of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God, Archbishop Daniel prayerfully reflected upon the spiritual bond of devotion of the Theotokos that unites Ukrainian and German faithful. Noble rulers of Kyiv Rus-Ukraine dedicated the land of Ukraine to the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God and the mosaic of Oranta in St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv remains a symbol of that prayerful dedication. The prayerful accounts of the miraculous healings in Bavaria in front of the statue of Our Lady of Altotting, brought millions of Christians from around the world to offer their intercessory prayers in front of the sacred image of the Mother of God of Bavaria.
Welcoming Vladyka Daniel to the ancient temple, members of the parish’s board of administration and Very Rev. Fr. Valentyn Smoktynowych, pastor of the Ukrainian Orthodox communities in Munich, Germany, expressed their delight in archpastor’s visit and asked for his prayers for the parishioners and new members of the renewed family of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Munich.
The parish’s choir prayerfully chanted the responses to the Divine Liturgy, while numerous people partook in the Holy Mysteries of Penance and Eucharist. Assisted by Very Rev. Fr. Valentyn Smoktynowych and Very Rev. Fr. Valentyn Gavruliuk of the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross Ukrainian Orthodox parish Ulm, Germany, and altar serves Alexander and David Smoktynowych, Archbishop Daniel led the celebration of the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy.
In his sermon, the archpastor stated that “…Christianity is not only what we believe; but it is also how we act; it is what we become. It is true, it is not possible without belief, but belief is only the beginning, almost like when the seed of a plant is put into the ground, good soil. That is only the beginning. That is the start. Then the seedling starts to grow, and with time and care it becomes a true fruit. That is what we must do. We have to grow and change. This is a true Christianity, this is what it takes and means to be a true witness, a martyr - a true fisher that Jesus calls us all to be.”
Dozens of people approached the chalice to receive Most Holy Eucharist. In conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a short Memorial Litany was served in memory of the fallen heroes of Ukrainian land that offered their lives in the service of their ancestral homeland. Once again, Vladyka Daniel reflected upon the historical significance of the feast of the Protection (Pokrova) of the Mother of God and shared a short narrative with everyone in attendance upon the significance of the feast, mentioning the ultimate sacrifices of many men and women in the service of their homeland.
The day concluded with a festive luncheon offered in honor of the Feast day and the hierarch’s visit to the parish community.