Immacolata Solaro Del Borgo, now age 93, in a photo from six years ago. She is an Italian noblewoman who has in her family archives precious relics of saints, including of St. John Chrysostom and St. John the Evangelist. She has spent her life trying to build trust between the East and the West, by bringing gifts of relics to the East…


    As the Ukraine-Russia war rages on, two relics, of St. John Chrysostom and St. John the author of the Gospel of John, have now begun a journey to the East, to both Russia and Ukraine.

    When they arrive at their destinations, they will be venerated in liturgies and religious services.

    Immacolata’s hope is that her gift of these relics may spark an outpouring of prayer from the “grass roots” — creating a spiritual “off-ramp” that might possibly be a path toward ending the seemingly deadly spiral of this present war. —RM 

    Letter #114, 2023, Wednesday, July 19: Ukraine

    Something wicked this way comes.

    That is the feeling one has at mid-summer regarding the terrible war in Ukraine.

    The war in Ukraine has become a hell.

    And this means that the situation is right now more dangerous than ever, as leaders (on all sides) may be tempted to take unprecedented actions, risking an even wider war.

    And this is precisely what US Colonel Douglas MacGregor warns in a recent video where he says “NATO members are now openly discussing war plans against Russia.” (link)

    So this present moment is a pivotal one — what happens in these coming days could determine the course of this conflict, and affect us all for months and years to come.

    Perhaps a thousand Ukrainian soldiers are being killed daily as they attempt a “counter-offensive” to break through Russian defensive lines in eastern Ukraine aimed at severing Russian-held Crimea from Donbass.

    We do not know the actual number of the casualties, but many indicators suggest they are extremely high. Even former US President Donald Trump is making this assertion (link). In an interview Tuesday, Trump warned that the western media is not accurately covering the scale of death and destruction in Ukraine, asserting that “hundreds of thousands of people are dying.”

    We can say that the battle is a “slaughter” because that is what one eyewitness, an Irish mercenary named Rhys Byrne, codename “Rambo,” from Dublin who has fought in Ukraine for 17 months, confirmed to Sky News as he left Ukraine in recent days.

    He says the battle to reclaim territory has been horrific.

    “On ‘zero line’ it’s horror,” he said. “It’s horror. There is just a genocide. It’s slaughter.

    “There are dead people everywhere,” he continued. “Russians dead. Ukrainian people dead…. the biggest problem we get when we’re going into trenches is stepping over all the dead bodies that are already there from the last people [who] went in — that kind of stuff really haunts you.” (link — scroll down to the first video and begin at the 1:30 mark to hear Byrne’s testimony)    

    Meanwhile, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Hungary, Péter Szijjártó yesterday gave a compelling speech at the UN in which he asked the international community “to bring more peace to our neighborhood than weapons,” and called for immediate peace talks.

    His talk was posted on Twitter here (link) and is worth listening to.

    On Twitter commenter wrote: “Hungary is calling for peace—for Ukraine to come to the negotiating table and for countries to stop saber rattling over nuclear weapons. Besides Hungary, only the Vatican [my emphasis] seems interested in forcing Ukraine to negotiate some sort of settlement with Russia.” (link)

    Peace talks?

    Yesterday, July 18, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy, the Pope’s special envoy who recently traveled to Moscow and Kyiv to seek peace, was in Washington D.C. and met for more than an hour with U.S. President Joe Biden, and handed over to him a letter from Pope Francis.

    Here is the official communique on their meeting:

    WEDNESDAY 19 JULY 2023

    Statement of the Holy See. Card. Zuppi handed President Biden a letter from the Holy Father (link)

    From 17 to 19 July, His Eminence Card. Matteo Zuppi, Envoy of the Holy Father, went on a visit to Washington, accompanied by an Official of the Secretariat of State, in order to continue the mission entrusted to him by Pope Francis and in this context to meet the President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.

    Upon his arrival, on the evening of July 17, at the Apostolic Nunciature, His Eminence had a conversation with HE Msgr. Timothy Broglio, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, during which some reflections were exchanged on the war in Ukraine and on the Holy See’s initiatives in favor of victims and peace.

    The following morning, at the Rayburn House Office Building, the Vatican Delegation, integrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, HE Msgr. Christophe Pierre, and by the Rev. Msgr. Séamus Patrick Horgan, Counselor of the Apostolic Nunciature, met some members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) of the Government of the United States, to whom it presented the nature and development of the mission entrusted to it by the Pope, reflecting together on the ways in which it could be made more effective.

    On the afternoon of the same day, the Pontifical Envoy and the other members of the Delegation went to the White House, where they were received by President Joseph R. Biden, to whom Cardinal Zuppi delivered a letter from the Holy Father, emphasizing the Pope’s pain for the suffering caused by the war. The meeting, which began shortly after 17:00 and lasted over an hour, took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality and reciprocal listening. During the meeting, full willingness to support initiatives in the humanitarian field was assured, particularly for children and the most fragile people, both to respond to this urgency and to promote paths of peace.

    On the morning of July 19, the Vatican Delegation participated in the Senate Prayer Breakfast, at the headquarters of the United States Congress, during which Cardinal Zuppi had the opportunity to inform the participants about the meetings he had during the various stages of his peacekeeping mission. During the meeting, appreciation was expressed for the efforts of the Holy See and everyone’s responsibility to commit to peace was underlined.

    [End, official Holy See communique on the US trip of Cardinal Zuppi]        


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