BIESZCZADY - SOLINA COMMUNITY
ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH
CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION OF JESUS
Father Piotr Bartnik
The Ascension of Jesus
The mystery of the Ascension of our Lord
And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts. 1,7-11)
The historical feature of Górzanka
The first references to Górzanka, are included, among others in the "Historical and geographic Dictionary of Polish Lands in the Middle Ages Dictionary" by Adam Fastnacht. As follows therefrom Górzanka is situated in the region of Sanok, in the valley of the brook Wołkowyjka. Górzanka was invested on the law of Wallachia by the Bals family of Hoczew and existed as early as 1480 (up to 1523 Górzanka was called Volkovyka Parva, Volkovyka, Wylkowyka, Wilkowylka).
According to the Archives of the Crown Treasury, in 1552 the inhabitants of Górzanka included 15 peasants, an Othodox priest called pop and the village head. The presence of a clergyman could be connected with the existence of the first temple.
In 1480, after the death of John Bal - Sanok´s pantry - Matiasz, Peter (priest) and Nicholas shared their father's legacy. As a result of the division of the property Little Wilkowyja (Górzanka) was shared in half by Peter and Matiasz.
Górzanka, like the whole of Carpathian region, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was inhabited by the population of the Eastern Rite - Greek Catholic (Uniate) and Roman Catholics. The Ruthenians were mostly Greek Catholics and Polish Catholics. They lived on good terms, often families were mixed, and they celebrated the holidays together according to the Julian and the Gregorian calendar. Greek Catholics willingly participated in Christmas celebrations of the Catholic Church, and the Poles in the Feast of Jordan (Feast of the Baptism of the Lord) in the Orthodox Church.
According to local traditions, a kind of temple was in Górzanka before 1718, at the foot of the mountain "BILAT" and perished in the fire of the village.
The second temple built probably about 1718 already at the new present site could have been a Latin manorial chapel, used by subsequent owners of the village Bal, Karsznicki, Giebułtowski and other families, and by the faithful of both rites until approx. 1835.
The amicable life of Ruthenians, Poles and Jews was disrupted by the Austrian invaders. The Austrians, favoured the Ruthenians and followed the principle of "divide et impera" (divide and conquer), which was also reflected in the history of the temple.
In the absence of Catholic patrons the Austrians often forwarded the churches to the Greek-Catholics. They also promised the Ruthenians to create for them a separate national state for them. The Austrians used to antagonize the local community and many Ruthenians had been under the influence of that policy and ever more often identified themselves with the pro Ukrainian option.
Perhaps it was then that the temple in Górzanka was extended, and dedicated as a church of St. Paraskeva on August 10, 1835 and transmitted by the Austrian authorities to the faithful of the Greek Catholic rite. The Roman Catholics from Górzanka and the surrounding area attended the church in the nearby Wołkowyja.
During the World War II, the Austrian policy was continued by Germans. The Ukrainians intensified the national ambitions then and the Ukrainian language was introduced in local schools, and beginning with 1942 Ukrainian Insurgent Army was grounded.
In 1946, most of the nationalized Ruthenians left for Ukrainian Soviet Republic. In 1947, as a part of the Operation "Vistula", the rest of the Ruthenians were deported to the Recovered Territories, while the Polish families, for security reasons as a protection against the UPA, for the winter season 1947/48 were temporarily resettled to the Lesko region (Nowosiółki, Zahoczewie). The Orthodox church in Górzanka was left abandoned and unprotected for some 20 years.
Outstanding credit for saving the church is due to Father Franciszek Stopa, parson of the Roman Catholic Parish in Polańczyk, who insured that sacral building, organized occasional modest liturgical service e.g.: blessing Easter food , funerals, etc.
Some Górzanka´s inhabitants were engaged in saving liturgical vessels of the decaying nearby churches and delivered icons, feretories, dishes, etc. to the abandoned Orthodox Church.
Since the end of the war, till the end of the 60s, the communist authorities carried on the policy of a systematic destruction of the remnants of the Greek Catholics. Many Orthodox churches were burned down or demolished. The temple in Górzanka was to cast their lot. Finally, in view of lack of proper means of communication this plan was abandoned and replaced by that of setting up a store of an agricultural production cooperative in the temple of Górzanka.
In the 60s of the twentieth century, a pre-war project for a hydroelectric power station construction on the nearby San river was resumed. The communist authorities used it the plan inter alia, as a pretext to destroy the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Wołkowyja. The church was flooded by the waters of the Solina Lake in October 1967. Previously, the whole equipment was transported to Górzanka and stored in a makeshift shed near the church.
In 1969, the authorities, in order to avoid further irritation of the, succumbed to the demands of the Archbishop Ignacy Tokarczuk and agreed to the foundation of the Roman Catholic Parish of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus in Górzanka.
The parish life was slowly organized; the temple was repaired without delay; the new rectory and catechetical room were built. The temple was repeatedly robbed. A lot of valuable equipment was stolen. Whatever was saved, including some objects of the church in Wołkowyja, at present make the equipment of Górzanka´s church.
The parish in Górzanka, till 1975, formally included, as well, the faithful from Wołkowyja, who however used to meet for prayers at home, at the cemetery or in the chapel near Górzanka), for which they paid high penalties. Finally, the new church and Parish of Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe was built in Wolkowyja in 1975.
The architecture of the temple in Górzanka
The architecture of Górzanka´s church fits into the canon of "typicality" of a Carpathian Orthodox Church. Its main features are: a prominent central situation in the village, proximity to the creek, east oriented presbytery, old trees and the surrounding cemetery; the graves of the founders and clergy in the rear of the presbytery; the carcass construction, planking and shingle and screen bell tower nearby, including the proximity of the manor house and inn.
The Orthodox church in Górzanka, is a log timber frame construction and tripartite (presbytery nave, vestibule). The walls are boarded and reinforced by clamps. The presbytery is built on a square plan with the sacristy adjacent in the north. The nave is wider than the presbytery and vestibule.
The presbytery and nave were originally covered with shingle, now a plated ridge roof. Over the nave there is a tower with an onion dome.
The vestibule, added later, has a log timber frame construction and is covered with a gabled roof, topped with a four-sided tower with a tent roof.
The temple is surrounded by linden-oak old trees; the most impressive oak likely to derive from the times of the Jagiellonian dynasty.
Some old tombstones are to be found around the temple. One of them located behind the presbytery bears the inscription in Old Church Slavic language, "I am dust, God's mercy." Yet on the sandstone slab there are no names, nor dates. Perhaps this is the resting place of the founder or a priest.
Next to the temple there is a three arcaded stone belfry from the second half of the nineteenth century. The oldest bell dates from 1744 years.
In 2011, the bicentenary of the birth of father Adam Bielecki a commemorative plaque was laid on the side wall of the belfry and was consecrated by Adam Szal Suffrage Bishop of Przemysl.
Father Adam Bielecki, Janina coat of arms, was born December 19, 1811 in Górzanka, and dead April 18, 1859 in Prague. He was a catholic priest, independence activist in the nineteenth century. He was ordained in 1834 in the Roman Catholic Church in Przemyśl. He was priest in Przeworsk, Stobierna, Borek Stary and Chłopice.
He worked as Prefect of Studies, professor of canon law and church history at the seminary in Przemyśl. He was an advocate of reconciliation between Poles and Ruthenians, involved in political life of Galicia, as an underground activist and fought for the independence of Poland. Sentenced to death, then interned in Biecz, he was retrieved and deputy to the Parliament in Vienna and Kromieryż and Slavic Congress in Prague in 1848.
Father Adam Bielecki worked as parson in Haczów and Rymanów. He died in Prague on April 18, 1859. He was buried in the parish cemetery in Rymanów.
The temple in Górzanka and its belfry was entered into the historical monuments register in 1975.
The interior of the temple
The interior of the church has preserved a Latin wall altar (perhaps dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene - penitent, her elbow resting on a skull) and two corner altars of St. Michael the Archangel and St. John the Baptist, coming form the original equipment of the temple. The main altar with two paintings: "Descent from the Cross" and "Our Lady of the Immaculate" covering up the first one.
Worthy of attention is the Uniate tabernacle (sic!), because on its door, instead of white Holly Host, above the chalice, a cube of bread, called "prosfora," carved, referring to the Holy Communion in the Greek-Catholic rite. At present, by the tabernacle two sculptures are set: of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr and St. Casimir the Prince - both deriving from the old church in Wołkowyja.
On the left side of the nave there is a corner altar of St. Michael; its final contains a painting of Our Lady of Sorrows; and on the right hand side of the nave - a corner altar of St. John the Baptist with the painting of Christ - Ecce Homo in the final.
On the north wall of the nave there was a side altar of Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Anthony side altar, deriving from the church in Wołkowyja, now transferred to the cemetery chapel. The altar is decorated with the figures of St. Catherine of Siena - martyr with the palm of victory and St. Barbara - martyr with the Blessed Sacrament, sword and tower. In the upper part of the altar, between two angels, a painting of St. Joseph Calasant priest, who lived in Spain in the mid-sixteenth century, can be seen.
On the opposite wall there is to be found a copy of the icon of Our Lady of Łopienka made by Jadwiga Denisiuk in the icons workshop "Veraikon" in Cisna.
From the destroyed church in Wołkowyja also come Stations of the Cross, the pulpit, Cross by the altar, the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the painting of St. Joseph, some feretories and banners and confessionals.
The central panel of the pulpit is decorated with the cross, anchor and heart - symbols of faith, hope and love. Above the canopy is a figure of Christ Ascending.
The confessionals are topped by keys - a sign of authority given by Christ to St. Peter, saying: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) and "If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:23).
These confessionals, between 1931-1940, were used by Servant of God Father Jan Siuzdak parson of Wołkowyja, a great patriot, teacher, social activist, arrested in April 1940 and deported to Baligrod and Sanok and then via Krakow and Oswiecim to the camp in Dachau and Hartheim (Schloss Hartheim) near Linz in Upper Austria, where in 1942, he ended his Way of the Cross and his life of martyrdom.
Temple in the Eastern tradition
The architecture, decoration and furnishings of the Orthodox church emphasize the man´s yearning for God. The temple in the Eastern tradition is the sign and the representation of the heaven. Upon crossing the threshold of the Orthodox church, we enter into another world - the world of God. One feels as if in the presence of God, a guest in heaven. The temple is a waiting place for the advent of the Savior.
The vault of the church is an icon of heaven, where to Christ ascended and where from He will come "by the end of time". The faithful gathered under the dome, stare at the figure of Christ surrounded by the whole celestial Court angels and saints.
Górzanka´s church ceiling over the presbytery is decorated with the polychrome representing God the Father surrounded by angels.
The polychrome above the nave presents the Holy Trinity looking down on the earth as well as six-ailes angels, referred to by the prophet Isaiah: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isaiah 6:1-3)
In the corners of polychrome ceiling there are the figures of the four Evangelists: St. John with an eagle, St. Mark with a lion, St. Luke with an ox and St. Matthew with an angel.
The original wall paintings that adorned the walls of the temple have not been preserved. The present one - figural-ornamental dates from the early twentieth century and is probably the work of the Pawlikowski family.
Initially, the scenes referring to salvation and the Kingdom of God were in the apse of the temple. Later on, the iconography rich in liturgical substance was transferred from the apse to the iconostasis.
The iconostasis is set in the church on the division line between the presbytery and the nave. Apparently it separates the faithful from the altar however on the other hand, it connects the participants in the liturgy with the spiritual world and enables to experience a mystical reality of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The icons of the iconostasis are arranged symmetrically around Christ and His Mother, which means the unity of the whole Church of God aiming for universal unity.
In the Eastern tradition icon plays a very important role in the transmission of the faith. The icon has to lead to God and to bring closer the contents of the Bible. It is the source of grace of sanctifying power.
Fragments of the first iconostasis
Of the oldest iconostasis only four elements have been preserved: the Cross of the final of the iconostasis, the icon of Christ Pantocrator in a framed row called "Deesis" and two icons of the prophets.
II nd iconostasis of the temple - the iconostasis pallet-relief
Bass-relief (pallet-relief, contour) iconostasis about 1756 is the greatest treasure of the temple, considered an absolute rarity in the whole Carpathian region (sic!). During 2003-2013 it was reconstructed and re-arranged by the art conservators Beata Wirowska-Jakubowska and Slawomir Jakubowski.
According to the local tradition the whole iconostasis was carved from a thick trunk of linden, which was brought by the rough waters of Wołkowyjka; the faces of the saints of the iconostasis probably were meant to resemble the appearance of contemporary inhabitants of Górzanka.
The iconostasis consists of four rows: icons called "namiestny" with a tsar door, above the row of fest icons (prazdnik), over them the row "Deesis" and the row of prophets and kings with the Group of Crucifixion in the centre. Above the whole iconostasis there is the curtain referring to the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The row of the Kings and the Prophets of the Old Testament
On the left: Elias Gedeon with a ball of fleece, Abraham, the prophets with recipes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel or Ezekiel (two of these four) and Aaron, Moses´s brother with his wand.
In the centre - the Crucifixion scene: Our Lady of Sorrows, Jesus on the Cross with the attributes of the Passion (nails, pliers, hammer, sponge, rods, bone to casting lots, dress and hens); on the right: adoring Archangel (perhaps Gabriel).
Behind the Crucifixion scene: Moses with the table of Commandments, King David with the harp, the Patriarch Jacob with a ladder, King Solomon with a corner of the temple, probably Micah - announcing the birthplace of Jesus and Zechariah the priest in Old Testament, father of St. John the Baptist.
Below, there is a row of Apostles called "Deesis". The Apostles intercede for the faithful and the sinners so that Christ Pantocrator - the King of Heaven and Earth will let them into the Kingdom of God. From the left - the saints: Thomas, Matthias (instead of Judas), Andrew, Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, Philip, Jude, Simon, James the Lesser and Bartholomew. The Apostles keep the Book of Scripture, instruments of their death or other distinctive attribute.
In the third row from the top there are fest icons called "Prazdnik". The original ones have not been preserved. The new switch (in the old frames) was written on canvas by Slawomir Jakubowski, basing on icons from Uniate church in Zboj in Slovakia. The "Prazdnik" icons represent the most important scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary:
1. The Birth of the Virgin Mary,
2. The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
3. The Birth of Jesus Christ,
4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,
5. The Escape to Egypt,
6. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan,
7. The Last Supper,
8. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem,
9. The resurrection of Jesus Christ,
10. The Ascension of Jesus Christ,
12. The Dormition of the Mother of God,
13.The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The feast icon "The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan" on some occasions as the feast of the Jordan - feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus, was laid on the table, called "tetrapod", in front of the iconostasis. The faithful entering the temple "read" with the icon, which fest they would be celebrating, kissed the icon and wiped it with a "small towel" often embroidered .The faithful lit candles to pray for the living and the dead and they made three times the sign of a Cross: "W Imie Otca i Syna i Swiatoho Ducha. Amin"". In the liturgy of the Eastern Church the choir performed beautiful songs, incensing the iconostasis and the faithful; the festive liturgy lasted up to three hours.
Among the fest icons, the one of "The Last Supper" is outstanding. The Icon is placed in the middle - above the tsar doors and it is liturgical anamnesis (reminder) of the Upper Room. It helps every faithful to live thoroughly the experience of the personal encounter with Jesus in Holy Communion.
Below the "prazdnik" row there is another one, called "namiestny", with the tsar door (royal gate) in the middle. The Tsar doors depicting the scene of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is topped by Chalice of Abundance (symbol of the Eucharist - the price of our salvation). Around the chalice there are small icons of the four Evangelists (reproductions).
On the left hand side there another icon is to be observed: the one of St. Nicholas; deacon´s doors, Mary with Child (Hodegetria type). Behind the tsar doors Christ Pantocrator extends his right hand to blessing the people and in his left hand He is holding the Gospel; this means that He can always be found in His Word. The book is open to the words: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Mt 25, 34). After the second deacon´s doors there is a "chram" icon (dedicated to the patron of the church). In Górzanka, it represents St. Paraskeva, holding a cross, as a sign of martyrdom. St. Paraskeva was born in the third century in Iconium (now Turkey) into a family of a rich senator. Already in her youth, she led an ascetic lifestyle and was a victim of the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian.
Nowadays - after restoration - the upper part of the relief iconostasis is located at the original site (between the presbytery and nave), while the bottom part is set on the southern wall of the presbytery, so that it does not cover the altar. On the southern wall there is a contemporary icon "Tribute to Divine Mercy" made by Catherine Wolan (Atelier Brzeziniak in Przysłup).
The renovated relief iconostasis was consecrated on May 17, 2009 by Father Adam Szal suffragan bishop of Przemysl.
At the beginning of twentieth century, the relief iconostasis was considered as non-canonical, too Latin, or even "Polish", it was demolished and replaced by the icons written on canvas (third set of icons), by Bogdański or Pawlikowski families. Presently the written icons hang under the choir and its balustrade.
Sun: 8:00, 11:00
Weekdays: 17:00 (XI-III), 18:00 (IV-V) and (IX-X), 19:00 (VI-VIII)
Dear Pilgrim and Tourist,
Respect, please, the place, where people from Bieszczady worship God, His Mother and the Saints. Genuflect in front of the Blessed Sacrament present here, and if you can offer a donation for the renovation works of this charming and historic temple.
Roman Catholic Parish
of the Ascension of Lord Jesus
17 8642 1012 2003 1201 9577 0001
Wniebowstąpienia Pana Jezusa
17 8642 1012 2003 1201 9577 0001
The green tourist trail PTTK Zagorz -Krysowa, runs through the village; there are four local paths around Górzanka with viewpoints (e.g. observation tower on Korbania 894 m above sea level and with access to "Łopienka Valley "trail), three tracks target (to the church in Łopienka, the spring of "Holy Water" on Radziejowa and the waterfall "Devils Mill" - the "Zakapior" route) and a bike trail - Green Bicycle. Above the village Inspectorate Baligrod runs a forestry farm, and nearby there is an educational path - Baligród - Wierchy.
The village operates a tourist hostel PTSM with a playground and a sports court, a fire station and a grocery store. The country hosts offer many accommodations in farm houses, cabins and hotel rooms. The opportunity to ride a horse is also offered in Górzanka.
A detailed course of tourist routes is available on the board at the church.
Getting to Górzanka
Edition: Górzanka 2013
English edition: Elżbieta Święcka, Magdalena Święcka, 2015