Church of Dormition (Szczebrzeszyn)

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Church of Dormition in Szczebrzeszyn is a church built in XII century,

History

According to the newest archaeological research, the first church in Szczebrzeszyn was built around XII century as a Roman Catholic church later confiscated by Górka family and given to the Orthodox. In 1583 the church was seriously damaged during a fire of the whole town. It was quickly rebuilt as an Uniate church and given back to the Orthodox only in 1867.

During the First World War most of the Orthodox population (Russian or Ukrainian by nationality) left Szczebrzeszyn, leaving the church abandoned. After Poland regained its independence, the new authorities did not allow to re-open the church, claiming that it would become a centre of anti-Polish agitation. In 1938 the church was about to be destroyed; however, strong protests from both Orthodox community and the local intellectuals persuaded the authorities not to ruin it completely. However, they didn't allow to open it either. In 1947, after mass deportations of Ukrainians ordered by Polish Stalinist government, the church was turned into a store, then abandoned again.

In 1989, after the fall of "real socialism" in Poland the reconstruction works were finally begun that lasted until 2006 because of lack of financial means. In the same year the church was given back to Orthodox Eparchy of Lublin. In March 2008 the European Union subventionned further reconstruction works, donating over 1 million euros as a part of a program aimed to save the cultural heritage on the continent. They are being spent mainly on reconstruction of church's frescoes, painted succesively from XVIth to XIXth century.

The church in Szczebrzeszyn is the oldest Orthodox building in Poland, its original inventory was hovewer completely lost due to XXth century devastation.

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