The wife of the commander of the Ukrainian battalion still holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol had what she described as a “heart raising” encounter with Pope Francis. Source: CNS.
Kateryna Prokopenko, wife of Azov Regiment commander Denys Prokopenko, and Yulya Fedosiuk, wife of Azov soldier Arseniy Fedosiuk, met Pope Francis yesterday at the end of his weekly general audience. Both women are in their 20s.
The women are in almost constant contact with the wives of about 500 of the estimated 2000 soldiers still believed to be inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
“We hope this meeting will give us a chance to save their lives,” Ms Prokopenko told reporters in English after meeting the Pope. “Our soldiers are ready to be evacuated to a third country.”
The group of wives includes widows whose husbands’ bodies have yet to be recovered and who are pleading for international help so they can give their husbands a Christian burial, Ms Fedosiuk said.
She said they told the Pope that an estimated 700 soldiers inside the steel mill are injured; “they have gangrene, amputations; their flesh is rotting.”
As the women were talking to the Pope, they said, “he held our hands”.
“He told us he is praying for us, and he is doing everything” he can to push for the complete evacuation of the plant, Ms Fedosiuk said.