“When Constantinople fell to Ottoman invaders in the 15th century, the Orthodox Church in Moscow asserted itself as the heir apparent for the only remaining “true” Christian church in the world, bringing Orthodox parishes in Ukraine under its complete jurisdiction. But in the centuries since, Ukraine has become a battleground for Orthodox power struggles that stem from this original claim of Russian authority. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the declaration of independence in Ukraine, some voices began to advocate for an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. At the time, those cries went unheard.” – Aidan Houston and Peter Mandaville
Clearly, religion in Ukraine is complicated, perhaps more than in most nations aside from America. The early Christian Church began with factionalism, and the power struggle in Ukraine is only the latest example of a two thousand year tradition.
Churches, or more precisely, religious movements usually do not evolve in isolation. Just as a congregation is a reflection of its community, so are denominations influenced by political and military rivalries.
While Eastern Ukraine is brutalized by Russia’s effort to annex large portions of the independent nation, Ukraine itself is the site of a less visible religious battleground. All forms of faiths in Ukraine are trying to contain the corrosive influence, and in some cases dominance, of Russian controlled religions.
This feature is not an attempt to explain the history, or detail the tensions at work between various churches and their political benefactors. This collection of images simply presents a handful of historic buildings of worship located in Kyiv and Lviv, and share their architectural beauty and religious iconography.
The photos were taken as a distraction from the horrible conditions of war inflicted on Ukrainian civilians, and as a way to search for some light of redemption in a world engulfed in utter darkness.
© PHOTO NOTE: All the original editorial images published here have been posted to the Facebook page of Milwaukee Independent. That collection of photos contains the MI copyright and watermark for attribution, and may be used for private social media sharing. Do not download and share images directly from this page. mkeind.com/facebook
Series: Reports from Ukraine
- Reports from Ukraine: Traveling from Milwaukee to a country at war just to take a vacation from America
- Images from Ukraine: Latino artist travels to Irpin to paint mural inspired by "Echoes of Guernica"
- Images from Ukraine: Irpin residents welcome reissue of Russian Warship Stamp as latest sign of victory
- Stories from Ukraine: Wandering in the ruins of a shattered life after surviving Russia's invasion
- Images from Ukraine: Similar to the Alamo, martyred cities bought precious time to save a nation
- Stories from Ukraine: Tent camp offers shelter for displaced residents until Irpin can rebuild lost homes
- Images from Ukraine: Graveyards of Russian war machines show the scale of Putin's failure to seize Kyiv
- Images from Ukraine: Following the invasion convoy's 40-mile route and exploring an abandoned base
- Stories from Ukraine: Illegal weapons and proof of Russian War Crimes easily seen along streets of Irpin
- Images from Ukraine: How Irpin’s cemetery processed the staggering massacre of its local citizens
- Stories from Ukraine: Healing remains slow as Borodyanka residents recover from occupation
- Images from Ukraine: The deep scars of war remain visibly etched across the landscape of Borodyanka
- Interview with Oleksandr Markushin: Mayor of Irpin and the hero of a Hero City
- A Meeting of Sister Cities: Former and current Mayors of Irpin ask Milwauke's business community for help
- Stories from Ukraine: Having a shared purpose helped Irpin's leaders protect the city and stop the invaders
- Stories from Ukraine: How Milwaukee helped a bakery feed hungry survivors in Bucha with fresh bread
- Stories from Ukraine: Bucha resident recalls how Russians turned neighborhood into a street of death
- Stories from Ukraine: How a mass grave of executions overshadowed accountability from Bucha’s leadership
- Images from Ukraine: Putin’s attack on Babyn Yar is a painful reminder of the broken vow of “Never Again”
- Images from Ukraine: An unexpected encounter with Jewish history and the bloody legacy of persecution
- Images from Ukraine: Listening to timeless voices of ethnic heritage etched in stone at Lychakiv Cemetery
- Images from Ukraine: The experience of attending a military funeral in Kyiv while children died in Uvalde
- Images from Ukraine: Stepping out of the fog of war to see the beauty of faith in ancient places of worship
- Images from Ukraine: The cities of Kyiv and Lviv were divided by history but remain united in identity
- Stories from Ukraine: Anya Nakonechna shares why the Lviv Opera is a symbol of her nation’s culture
- Images from Ukraine: A folk village where visitors can experience the life of past generations
- Images from Ukraine: Signs of renewal sprout from under Irpin’s rubble as city looks to the future
Milwaukee Independent editorial team for this special series: (UKRAINE) Lee Matz, photojournalist; Oleh Pinta, translator / reporter; Yaroslav Zdyrko, security / videographer; (MILWAUKEE) Halyna Salapata, logistics / translations.
Milwaukee Independent has reported on the situation in Ukraine since it was invaded on February 24. Coverage originally began with reactions and rallies from the local Ukrainian American community, and relationships with Milwaukee’s sister city of Irpin. Through partnerships and good journalism, sources were developed that enabled Milwaukee Independent to publish developments about the unprovoked war in realtime. In late May, a team from Milwaukee Independent spent nearly two weeks on the ground in Ukraine. The award-winning daily news magazine was the first and, at the time, only media organization to send staff into the country since the war began.