I understand that there is a new series on HBO about the Chernobyl disaster. I haven’t seen any of it yet.
During the summer after the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster I was in Rome for Fr. Reginald Foster’s intense Summer Latin Bootcamp (again). I lived mostly in Trastevere during these summers, but I also spent time with Ukrainians on the Aventine.
The older men there, although they appreciated my bass voice at Divine Liturgy, were suspicious of outsiders (reasonably so… this was before the fall of the Soviet Bloc) and they were entirely freaked out in 1986 and worried about the end of the world.
One day I got one of them to tell why they were so nervous about the End Times.
“Chernobyl”, he responded.
“And…?”, quoth I.
“Chernobyl… in English mean ‘vooormvooood'”.
“Voormvood! Like Bible. “Voooormvoooood.”
I got it.
Ukrainian “chernobyl” stands for Artemisia vulgaris … wormwood, as in the Bible.
Wormword is a Hebrew metaphor for a curse, because of its bitterness.
But there’s also Revelation 8:10-11:
And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters:
And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
A great star… something hot… fell on the waters and people died.
Have a nice day!