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Ukraine War: May the Blessed Mother Protect Children Caught in the Crosshairs

Ukraine War: May the Blessed Mother Protect Children Caught in the Crosshairs

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9. (photo: Evgeniy Maloletka / AP)

A mother desperate to save her child places him on a train alone; young cancer patients travel to Poland; a maternity ward is struck in the City of Mary: May the Most Holy Mother of God extend her blessed mantle of protection over a besieged people.

The heartbreaking images.

Waking up in the middle of the night to reports of air strikes against a children’s hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol, which literally translates to “City of Mary,” I clutched my sleeping 2-year-old a bit more tightly as I rocked her back to sleep.

For millions of mothers and children seeking refuge from ongoing shelling and air strikes, there is no sleep — and virtually no end in sight.

The attack this morning on the maternity ward left the building devastated, as rescue crews searched for survivors amid the rubble. At least three have died, including a child, and 17 are injured. Sadly, because of Russian air strikes, the evacuations of civilians from the city of nearly 400,000 have been put on hold.

And this is just the latest attack impacting the most vulnerable. Since President Vladimir Putin began his attack on Ukraine Feb. 24, showing no mercy to civilians, the tiniest of humans are being caught in the crosshairs.

Many are braving artillery fire and shelling attempting to leave war-torn areas of the country, some even making the journey alone.

A mother torn between saving her own ailing mother and her 11-year-old son could only cry as she was forced to put him, alone, on a train heading to Slovakia with only a passport, a plastic bag and a phone number written on his hand.

Posting to Facebook, the boy’s mother, Yulia Pisetskaya, expressed relief when her son heroically made it safely out of the country:


“I am grateful you have saved my child’s life. Next to my town is a nuclear power plant that the Russians are shooting at. I couldn’t leave my mother — she can’t move on her own.”



After traveling 600 miles to safety, the Slovakian embassy in the U.K. also shared his heroic mission on social media. “He conquered everyone with his smile, fearlessness and determination of a real hero,” said a Slovak Interior Ministry representative.

Young cancer patients and other children with chronic illnesses have also been forced to flee, finding refuge in Poland. From a hospital in Kharkiv, they were transported via train with family members to a bordering Polish town.


GETTY A polish health worker comforts a child inside a train wagon transformed for medical transport on March 10, 2022 in Medyka, Poland.
A Polish health worker comforts a child inside a train car transformed for medical transport on March 10 in Medyka, Poland. | Omar Marques/AFP/Getty(Photo: Omar Marques)


More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched a large-scale attack on the country last month. Many more are expected to flee, as ongoing humanitarian efforts are underway.

But countless children and civilians can’t brave the road to safety. As we celebrate Catholic Sisters Week, the story of Sister Justine staying behind to protect and rock tiny infants with terminal illnesses has also struck a chord in the hearts of many. A member of the Pontifical Academy of Life, she has been hailed a hero as she stays to aid those suffering in pediatric hospice. “She’s there tonight, during the war, filling with love the last days of tiny babies like the one she’s holding tonight,” Dr. Matilde Leonardi, director of the Besta Hospital in Milan, said of her colleague.

These are just a few of the heartrending stories wrought by this war that is rocking an entire nation and gripping the world.

As we journey through Lent and contemplate the suffering of Christ and offer penance, may we keep these angels of Our Lord safely in our sight as we offer a Rosary as well as fast and give alms for all those in Ukraine.


May the Most Holy Mother of God extend her blessed mantle of protection over Ukraine.


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