The cross presented to the Pope by Fr Grynevych The cross presented to the Pope by Fr Grynevych 

Pope gifted a cross symbolising the pain of the Ukrainian people

The cross, made of glass from windows shattered by Russian missiles, was brought to him by Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, Secretary General of Caritas Spes-Ukraine.

By Michele Raviart

Fr. Vyacheslav Grynevych, Secretary General of Caritas Spes-Ukraine, met with Pope Francis on Tuesday afternoon in a private audience in his residence, Casa Santa Marta. 

The Ukrainian priest gave the Pope a cross made from the shards of glass from the windows of houses destroyed by Russian bombing.

In an interview with Vatican News, Fr. Grynevych described his meeting with Pope Francis, and discussed the work done by Caritas in his war-torn country.  


Father Vyacheslav, how did the meeting with Pope Francis go?

This meeting was a really good moment to describe what, as local Caritas and as Caritas Internationalis, we are doing in Ukraine. We as church workers are also victims of the war. We have to fight not only for our lives, but also for our spirituality. The Pope is with us, in prayer, he’s doing many things, but when you don’t see the possibility of bringing an end to the war, you see weariness, and he urged us as Caritas to continue our work. He repeated that he is with us with all his heart and is doing everything possible in this terrible situation. I left him a cross made from the glass of the windows destroyed by the bombing. I told him that these shattered windows show not only the destroyed houses that we are trying to rebuild, but they also show our hearts, what we have inside. And in the centre of the cross is the image of a butterfly, which is a sign of hope, because we’re waiting for resurrection. Together with the whole of society and with international help, we can go forward and rebuild everything that the Russians destroyed in this terrible war. I also gave the Pope the text of a Stations of the Cross that we Caritas Spes Ukrainian workers prepared, showing our experience of the war. It is a very intimate reflection, and I asked the Holy Father to read it, because this will be a very strong prayer for us. I believe that the Holy Father in his prayer can unite all our hearts.

What do the meditations of this Stations of the Cross say?

There are many stories that relate to our experience. At the Station where Jesus meets his mother, we are reminded of when the mothers of soldiers in Ukraine wait for their sons [to come back] from the war, and some do not return, and they’re told that their son has died. And these are true stories, stories of our loved ones and friends. Another Station describes the feelings of children under the bombing, when children cannot sleep. Then there is a meditation on the many graves in Ukraine with the bodies of nameless people, no one knows who they are, but for us these graves are holy places.

Where did the glass from the Cross that you gave to the Holy Father come from?

From the Kyiv region, particularly from the places bombed in the first days of the war.

Tomorrow you will present the work that Caritas organisations from many countries are doing for Ukraine...

For us this international solidarity is really important. It’s important to be united in responding to the humanitarian needs caused by the war. I believe it's easier to go forward when you know you're not alone, and for us this is a very important sign. We’re on the front line and we always experience the risk of being attacked, but we feel united with all the other Caritas workers in Italy and in other countries who are working with Ukrainian refugees: we are all going through the same experience. Let's say that we are also soldiers, but soldiers in the social war. So I think it is very important to be united as Caritas: we’re not alone.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

22 February 2023, 11:27