Church of Dormition (Szczebrzeszyn)
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Revision as of 10:30, January 21, 2012
According to recent archaeological research, the first church in Szczebrzeszyn was built around twelfth century as a Roman Catholic church. Later, it was confiscated by Górka family and given to the Orthodox Church. In 1583, the church was seriously damaged during a fire that engulfed the whole town. It was quickly rebuilt as an Uniate church and given back to the Orthodox only in 1867.
During the World War I most of the Orthodox population (Russian or Ukrainian by nationality) left Szczebrzeszyn, leaving the church abandoned. After Poland regained its independence following the war, the new government did not allow it to re-open as a church, claiming that it would become a centre of anti-Polish agitation. In 1938, the church building was about to be destroyed. However, strong protests from both the Orthodox community and local intellectuals persuaded the authorities not to destroy it completely. However, they did not allow to it to be open either. In 1947, after the mass deportations of Ukrainians ordered by Polish Stalinist government, the church was turned into a store, then later abandoned.
In 1989, after the fall of "real socialism" in Poland, reconstruction of the church building finally began. The reconstruction work lasted until 2006 because of a lack of funds. Also, in 2006, the church was returned to the Eparchy of Lublin of the Church of Poland. In March 2008, the European Union provided financial aid for further reconstruction work, donating over 1 million euros as a part of a program aimed at saving things of the cultural heritage in Europe. The funds are being spent mainly on reconstruction of church's frescoes that were originally painted between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The church in Szczebrzeszyn is the oldest Orthodox building in Poland. However, its original inventory of furnishings was completely lost due to devastation during the twentieth century.