During the Soviet era, the KGB covered the shrine in barbed wire and poured diesel in its well.
A monk fled Kyiv in the year 1240, as the invading Mongols destroyed the city. Wounded and exhausted from the journey of some 500 kilometers, the unnamed monk found a spring near the Strypa River and stopped to refresh himself.
He lay down to rest, but the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him in a dream. Disrupted from sleep, he found an icon of Mary and the Christ Child in her arms.
The monk washed himself with the water from the spring and noticed his wounds were healed. Filled with gratitude, he built a chapel in which he prayed before the icon.
Soon, a town was established, and became known as Zarvanytsia (pronounced zar-van-EET-see-uh), which means “place of disruption,” in reference to the Blessed Virgin disrupting the monk’s sleep.
Word got out about the miraculous spring and since then, many pilgrims have been healed after prayer before the image and the consumption of the water from the well.
During the Soviet era, authorities blocked roads leading to Zarvanytsia on major holy days, to prevent pilgrims coming to the shrine. The miraculous spring was wrapped in barbed wire.
“The KGB would pour diesel into the well,” Fr. Andriy Shalai, a former military chaplain, said while giving this reporter a tour in 2019.
But local residents hid the icon (as did the monks) and held secret Divine Liturgies in their houses or in the forest.
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