Lent 2022, Day 16: Pray for Ukraine.

Bodies are put into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine.Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

Today’s The New York Times‘ The Morning newsletter had reports from Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka of The Associated Press in Ukraine that were just devastating:

The bodies of the children all lie here, dumped into this narrow trench hastily dug into the frozen earth of Mariupol to the constant drumbeat of shelling.

There’s 18-month-old Kirill, whose shrapnel wound to the head proved too much for his little toddler’s body. There’s 16-year-old Iliya, whose legs were blown up in an explosion during a soccer game at a school field. There’s the girl no older than 6 who wore the pajamas with cartoon unicorns and who was among the first of Mariupol’s children to die from a Russian shell.

They are stacked together with dozens of others in this mass grave on the outskirts of the city. A man covered in a bright blue tarp, weighed down by stones at the crumbling curb. A woman wrapped in a red and gold bedsheet, her legs neatly bound at the ankles with a scrap of white fabric. Workers toss the bodies in as fast as they can, because the less time they spend in the open, the better their own chances of survival.

“Damn them all, those people who started this!” raged Volodymyr Bykovskyi, a worker pulling crinkling black body bags from a truck.

More bodies will come, from streets where they are everywhere and from the hospital basement where the corpses of adults and children are laid out, awaiting someone to pick them up. The youngest still has an umbilical stump attached.

Just weeks ago, Mariupol’s future seemed much brighter. If geography drives a city’s destiny, Mariupol was on the path to success, with its thriving iron and steel plants, a deepwater port and high global demand for both.

By Feb. 27, that started to change, as an ambulance raced into a city hospital carrying a small motionless girl, not yet 6. Her brown hair was pulled back off her pale face with a rubber band, and her pajama pants were bloodied by Russian shelling.

Her wounded father came with her, his head bandaged. Her mother stood outside the ambulance, weeping.

As the doctors and nurses huddled around her, one gave her an injection. Another shocked her with a defibrillator. “Show this to Putin,” one doctor said, with expletive-laced fury. “The eyes of this child and crying doctors.”

They couldn’t save her. Doctors covered the tiny body with her pink striped jacket and gently closed her eyes. She now rests in the mass grave.

Anastasia Erashova with her child in a hospital in Mariupol.Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

Read the rest here.

  • A Prayer for Ukraine, from the Anglican Communion:
  • Pope Francis’ Prayer for Ukraine can be viewed here.
  • Read this NYT piece on how people around the world are praying for Ukraine, Russia, and the world.

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