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Portaitissa of Donetsk

“This is the Northern Gates of Donetsk. Portaitissa! The front line begins just behind the runway. Perhaps that’s why most devastation meant for the city was taken by the Convent.” The Convent of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God in Donetsk got hit during the battle for the Donetsk airport.

Hegumene of the Convent and her aide found themselves caught up in the hostilities. As the Convent was practically on the front line, the women were eyewitnesses to the attack on Donetsk Airport. The airport was a strategic point leading to heavy fighting. As the Ukrainian forces took hold, they would shoot at civilians as leverage to keep the Donetsk militia away.

At first, the women didn’t understand what was going on. The Convent buried in blossoming flowers was damaged by the gunfire, and the icon was hit by shrapnel. Hegumene Mikhaela had been planting cabbage in the garden when the bombing of Donetsk airport started.

As the shelling drew closer each day, they witnessed destruction and miraculous escapes. The gunfire would cease during their prayers, and the fire that broke out in church would stay away from them.

When asked, they would say the war was the happiest time in their lives. Why?