monastery musings

The Borders of Ukraine

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The Borders of Ukraine

      Ukraine is a land with vast expanses of wheat and sunflower fields stretching farther than the eye can see; attention to beauty in the smallest of details; hard-working people who are cordial in their hospitality; and so much more that makes it a truly special place.

image of person cleaning colorful rugs at Pochaev

Cleaning rugs at Pochaev


Crops on the way to the market


Farmers at work in a village


Spigot on the Church of Sts. Adrian and Natlaia, Kiev

By God’s grace and through the generosity of Georgiy Belchenko of blessed memory (+2021) and his wife, I was blessed to experience Ukraine with Mother Theodora (in schema Amphilochia, +2015), before the present turmoil.


Gate, Kremenetz Monastery


Walkway rail at Sts. Florus and Laurus Monastery, Kiev


Canopy over the entrance to Building 56, Kiev Lavra

The one thing that struck us both were the magnificent borders painted on church arches.  Mother Theodora, an iconographer, noted that Orthodox church architecture, which often incorporates graceful arches into its design, led to an entire artistic discipline that would enable the arches to be harmoniously united with the overall scheme of the church’s icons, glass, wood, plaster, tile, stone and other media. The artistic borders painted on the arches play an integral role in enhancing the other-worldly feel of entering into sacred space.

A Cossack guarding the Pochaev Lavra pauses for a prayer in the course of his work – to him, this is more than “just a job”.


Christ said that He is the Door (John 10:9), and these magnificently painted arches are like thresholds leading us to a greater and greater beauty within the church as we move deeper within the sanctuary. The smooth curves of the arches have a soothing spiritual effect, something that the Orthodox Church obviously knew well before the modern “neuro-architecture” movement.


As you explore the artistry of the borders in this slide show, may you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed capturing the images to bring back to you.

View the beautiful borders slideshow below


Mother Andrea          


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