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Revival of the religious spirit

 

After the decades of the soviet atheistic regime when the churches and monasteries had been closed down, clergy persecuted, imprisoned or liquidated, a revival of religious life began in the independent Ukraine. There are many functioning monasteries in Ukraine; they vary in size and significance. The Monastery of Hoshiv (full name  Transfiguration Basilian Monastery of Hoshiv, Province of the Most Holy Savior), not far from Dolyna town in the Land of Ivano Frankivshchyna boasts an icon of the Holy Mother of God (Virgin Mary of Hoshiv), which is working miracles.

The first written mention of the monastery, which now belongs to the religious community of the Order of St Basil the Great of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, dates, according to some historians, to the early sixteenth century.

It is situated in the village of Hoshiv, on a hill which is known as Yasna Hora (the Lightening Mount). Originally, the monastery was located at a place called Chorny Dilok, but after the Tartar raid of the early seventeenth century, during which the monastery was burned down, it was moved to Yasna Hora. In the late seventeenth century the Turkish army on its way from a failed military campaign in Europe  it had suffered a devastating defeat near Vienna in 1683  besieged the monastery but the local troops and population that had fled to the monastery to take refuge behind its walls, successfully defended the monastic stronghold, and the Turks beat a retreat.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, thanks to money donations received from the local estate owners, reconstruction and building work began which lasted well into the nineteenth century. A new church, a new building of the monks cells and a bell tower were built. By the early 1840s, most of the construction work was completed.

In 1737, Mykola Hoshivsky, a local land owner, presented an icon of the Virgin Mary with Child to the monastery. It was a copy of the famous icon of the mother of God of Belza which was painted in the end of the fourteenth century. Later, this icon found its way to the Polish town of Chenstochov (Cstochowa), but because of its wide fame, several copies were made. One of the copies happened to be in the possession of the Hoshivsky family. Presenting the icon to the monastery, M. Hoshivsky claimed that the icon was of the miracle-working kind. The top church hierarchs confirmed that the icon did have the power of working miracles and authorized the transfer of the icon to the monastery. From that time on, the Svyatospasky Monastery on Yasna Hora became the center of pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage continued until the end of the 1930s. When in 1937, the 200th anniversary of the installation of the icon in the monastery was celebrated, over 350,000 people were reported to have come to take part in the celebrations.

In September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west and the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. Hoshiv, which until that time had been under the Polish rule, found itself part of the Soviet Union. The pressure exercised by the soviet authorities to close down the monastery began to mount, but when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, there were other, more pressing concerns for the soviets to deal with.

The occupying Germans did not close the monastery and let the monks be. In 1944, when the Germans were retreating, fierce fighting took place around Yasna Hora, and the monastery suffered extensive damage. But the icon was absolutely intact.

After the war, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was banned in the Soviet Union but for some reason the monastery was finally closed only in 1950, and the monks were arrested. For some time, the buildings of the monastery were used by a military unit, and later the former monastery was turned into an orphanage. For ten years, from 1978 to 1988, the former monastery was a tourist center that provided accommodation for the workers of a factory in Ivano-Frankivsk.

In the mid-1980s, profound changes began to occur in the Soviet Union which would eventually lead to the demise of the communist regime in 1991. In the wake of these changes, the monastery was returned, first, to the religious community of the Russian Orthodox Church, and later to the Order of St Basil the Great of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

Restoration and reconstruction began, the religious services were resumed. Specialists, including a German professor, were invited to help with the reconstruction and restoration work. Pilgrims began to come to the monastery in growing numbers, the icon of the Virgin Mary with Child being the major attraction. Feast Days of the Annunciation and Pokrova Bohorodytsi (Holy Protective Veil of the Mother of God), and the Transfiguration of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ are particularly solemn occasions with thousands of the faithful in worshipping attendance. Miraculous healings were  and continue to be  reported.

Father Damyan Kastran, O.S.B.M., hieromonk, hegumen-abbot who heads the monastery, keeps restoring what is in need of restoration, and launches new building projects. Before he took monastic vows, Father Damyan had been an architect by education, and now he launches development projects for Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church around all Ukraine, for some of which he provides his own design. Having visited most of the world-known catholic pilgrims locations such as Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorje, Vatican etc father Damyan has a clear vision of what the infrastructure is needed around Monastery of Hoshiv, as for instance he is planning to have a pilgrimage center, a new park laid out, parking, a new road for easier access to the monastery built.

 

At the Svyatospasky (Holy Savior) Monastery

in Hoshiv.

 

The icon of the Holy Mother of God of Hoshiv which

is believed to be working miracles.

 

The faithful at the Chapel of Judas Thaddaeus.

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