SPRINGFIELD — Members of Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Parish here served the Divine Liturgy Feb. 8, asking the Lord for the relief of persecuted Christians throughout the world. After the Liturgy a prayer service, Moleben to the Mother of God, begged the intercession of Mary for Christians living under threat of suffering and violence.

The previous week, as part of a national program of the Knights of Columbus, the parish displayed an icon of “Mary, Protectress of Persecuted Christians” to assist the prayers of the faithful. The icon has been traveling to parishes in Oregon on loan from the Knights.

Of particular interest to members of Nativity Parish is one of the group of persecuted peoples shown under the mantle of Mary in the icon: An image of Patriarch Josyf Slipy represents the suffering faithful and martyrs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church under the Communist regime of the Soviet Union, which declared the church illegal. As it travels, the icon is meant to remind Oregon Catholics that their fellow Christians who live under the threat of imprisonment, violence and death in many parts of the world are in need of prayer and support.