Story: Peter Luczka On Friday evening 24th February approximately 500 people gathered near the fountain in Coventry City centre before making their way to the cathedral ruins for a Vigil for Ukraine to mark the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

The procession was led by one of the group carrying a large Ukrainian flag. Many Ukrainians were dressed in their traditional national blouses & shirts, some had the Ukrainian flag wrapped around them, others waved their hand-held Ukrainian flags.

Shoppers stood in respectful silence as members of Coventry's Ukrainian community, joined by friends of the community as well as the people of the city of Coventry & surrounding areas, made their way towards the ruins.

The altar façade of the cathedral ruins was strikingly illuminated in blue above yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Upon entry to the ruins, the procession was joined at its head with a bearer carrying a cross, flanked by two church icon-banner carriers. The chair of the Coventry Ukrainian community laid a wreath at the altar.

The service at the Ruins was led by the Very Rev David Senyk and Fr Taras Dovbeniuk from the Coventry Ukrainian Church, joined in proceedings by Coventry Cathedral’s Bishop and Dean. The congregation listened to prayers, speeches and music remembering those who have tragically lost their lives, and prayed for peace.

Bible readings were accompanied by one Ukrainian new arrival retelling her moving story of her journey from war-torn Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine to safety & sanctuary in Coventry. A fitting service to mark the one-year anniversary.

Coventry has had three cathedrals. The first was St Mary's, a monastic building, from 1102-1539, of which only a few ruins remain. The second was St Michael's, a 14th-century Gothic church designated as a cathedral in 1918, which remains a ruined shell after its bombing during the Second World War. The third is the new St Michael's Cathedral, built immediately adjacent after the destruction of the former, consecrated in 1962.

The ruined cathedral is a symbol of war time destruction and barbarity, but also of peace and reconciliation.

Images: Con McHugh

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Coventry Vigil to Mark the 1st Anniversary of the Invasion of Ukraine