Zarvanytsia – Home of a Religious Relic
At first glance the village of Zarvanytsia looks like a quaint settlement surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the Strypa River. Situated in the Podilia Valley, the village seems almost forgotten amongst the natural wonders of the region. However, in truth, it is all but disregarded for the village of Zarvanytsia is the keeper of one of the most precious icons of Ukraine – the Mother of God.
It is said that during the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, a monk was able to flee from his captors in 1240 and managed to escape to the western regions of Ukraine, to the site that is Zarvanytsia today. Exhausted from travelling and hunger, and in pain from wounds, the monk quenched his thirst from the spring he had found and knelt down to pray. The monk then fell into a deep sleep, from which he was awoken by the Mother of God, who came to him as a vision. He walked towards where a bright light was illuminating the fountain in the spring, and found the icon of the Mother of God. On finding the icon, the monk immediately began to pray and used the water to clean his wounds. He started to feel his wounds healing and strength return to his weary body. For his blessing, the monk built a shrine for the icon next to the clear waters of the spring.
News of the icon and its powers soon spread throughout Ukraine, and many people, rich and poor, traveled to Zarvanytsia to pray and receive its blessing. One of the visitors was the Duke of Terebovlia Vasylko. He had become very ill and came to the icon for healing, which he received. Once his health returned, he ordered the construction of the first monastery and church on this location. After the icon survived fire and destruction, a stone church was erected in 1754, and can still be visited today.
The villagers of Zarvanytsia protected the icon through plundering, wars, occupation, persecution and the danger of the militia forces. Their bravery saw the return of the icon to its rightful place in its shrine in the village in 1991 and the icon has since been visited by many, including Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Holy Father John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Glemp. It is a site of pilgrimage for many Ukrainians, and attracts thousands of visitors, not only for the icon but for the magnificent church and monastery that have been maintained through generous public donations. Zarvanytsia is a significant village in Ukraine, and reminders and ruins from previous battles to save the icon can still be seen. It is an attraction of both historical and religious importance.