The Ukrainian parents of Zakhariy, a three-month-old baby boy baptized by Pope Francis in the chapel of his residence, Casa Santa Marta, on Monday afternoon, 6 November, were graced with a joyful moment in a very difficult period.
The 37-year-old father's name is Vitaly, and his 35-year-old wife's is Vita, 35. Their littlest one is the most recent arrival of their ten children, composed of seven boys and three girls.
The family lives in Kamianets-Podilskyi, in western Ukraine, a region relatively distant from the frontlines of the war unleashed by Russia in February last year.
They belong to the Neocatechumenal Way and say that in recent years they have experienced God's Providence in the midst of many family difficulties, which were further aggravated by the Russian invasion.
"We endure everything thanks to God, because God always takes care of our family," says Vita "There is war in the country," and "it is very difficult. Everyone is praying for this war to end soon, for all the prisoners to return home and for there to be no more killing."
"The Baptism was a great gift for our family," she adds. "I could never have even dreamed that we could be with the Holy Father and that he could baptise our son. But God is making such a wonderful story with us, which we still do not fully understand."
“I could never have even dreamed that we could be with the Holy Father and that he could baptise our son. But God is making such a wonderful story with us.”
Bishop Leon Dubrawski, the Latin rite bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi, was also present at the liturgy, and accompanied the couple to the Vatican.
He recalled how God's love is transmitted from generation to generation through the family.
As recently as Wednesday, Pope Francis continues to remind the world of the drama endured by the "martyred Ukrainian people."
The baptism of little Zakhariy offers a new hope for this numerous family that cannot forget the war, but continues to have faith in a peaceful future.