Photos: Ukrainian Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday amid war

·3 min read

While people around the world prayed for peace in Ukraine on Sunday, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians observed Palm Sunday, with Russia’s deadly war raging all around them.

In cities like Lviv and Kramatorsk, worshippers gathered with willow branches and lit candles to mark the start of Holy Week for Ukraine’s estimated 30 million Orthodox Christians. The holy water was often mixed with tears.

Worshippers take part in an Orthodox Palm Sunday service in Lviv, Ukraine.
Worshippers in an Orthodox Palm Sunday service in Lviv, Ukraine. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images)

In the town of Bucha, they observed Palm Sunday less than a month after a mass grave was discovered there, following the pullback of Russian forces from the Kyiv region.

Photographers captured striking images of church services throughout Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, now in its eighth week.

Russian forces are believed to be preparing to launch an all-out offensive in eastern Ukraine, and appear to be on the brink of taking control of Mariupol, though Ukrainian officials say it has yet to fall.

According to the United Nations human rights office, at least 2,072 civilian deaths have been confirmed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24, though the agency believes the actual death toll is likely much higher. More than 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced because of the violence, and more than 4 million of them have fled the country.

Those who have stayed behind continue to fight, and pray. Next Sunday, Ukraine’s Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter.

An Orthodox priest blesses parishioners with water on Palm Sunday.
An Orthodox priest blesses parishioners with water on Palm Sunday at the Church of the Transfiguration in Lviv. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Galina Bondar, who says her son was killed by Russian troops, weeps during Palm Sunday mass.
Galina Bondar, who says her son, Olexander, a territorial defense member, was killed by Russian troops, weeps as she attends Palm Sunday mass in Bucha, Ukraine. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
An Orthodox priest sprinkles holy water on worshippers outside.
An Orthodox priest sprinkles holy water on worshippers after a Palm Sunday service in Bucha. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
People at a Palm Sunday service in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.
People at a Palm Sunday service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)
A priest blesses a member of the Ukrainian military.
A priest blesses a member of the Ukrainian military during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service in Lviv. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images)
People pray during a mass on Orthodox Palm Sunday.
People pray during a mass on Orthodox Palm Sunday in Lviv. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A woman buys tree branches prior to Palm Sunday mass.
A woman buys tree branches prior to Palm Sunday mass at St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A woman makes the sign of the cross during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service.
A woman makes the sign of the cross during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service in Kramatorsk. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)
A woman at a Palm Sunday service holds willow branches.
A woman at a Palm Sunday service in Lviv holds willow branches. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A woman lights a candle during an Orthodox Palm Sunday mass in Bucha.
A woman lights a candle during an Orthodox Palm Sunday mass in Bucha. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
Worshippers attend an Orthodox Palm Sunday mass.
Worshippers attend an Orthodox Palm Sunday mass at the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Lviv. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People take part in the consecration of the willow branches outside a church.
People take part in the consecration of the willow branches on Orthodox Palm Sunday outside a church in Bucha. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
A woman makes the sign of the cross during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service at a church.
A woman makes the sign of the cross during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kramatorsk. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)
People hold willow branches as they celebrate Orthodox Palm Sunday.
People hold willow branches as they celebrate Orthodox Palm Sunday in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. (Yuriy Rylchuk/Reuters)
Two women hug each other during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service.
Women hugging during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kramatorsk. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

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What happened last week in Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

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