1966, Wood exterior has darkened.

L'viv, Ukraine.

Christmas, January 6th, 2003. Iconostas.
Photo: Volodymyr Koda, Rivne.
iconostas, 2003.

Many of the readers of the LEMKO page may not know that a few years ago a stylish Lemko church ("tserkva") was erected on the grounds of the Andrij Sheptycky Outdoor Museum in L'viv. This church is a functioning church and welcomes visitors whenever the museum is open and especially once a month on Sundays when services are held.

It must be said that the Museum is primarily dedicated to the conservation and exposition of old wooden structures. To this extent there exist several old wooden churches and many other log construction buildings on the grounds of the museum. The log construction Lemko church is the only building built from new material, all of the others have been brought here from outlying villages. The aim of this page is to inform the visitor about this Lemko Church in photos as well as in text.

The Outdoor Museum was started in the 1930-ies, when Archbishop Count Andrij Sheptyckyj transplanted a most stylish and beautiful Boyko church from the village of Kryvka on to some church property on the outskirts of L'viv. This started the museum process. During the Soviet era, in 1966, this museum was officially incorporated as the "Museum of National Architecture and Life Style". Over the years many exhibits were added to the Boyko church including other churches, log houses, log barns and other structures.

Over the years the museum made attempts to obtain a Lemko style church from Poland, as there were no suitable churches available in Ukraine. It must be pointed out here that all of the Lemko territory, or "Lemkivshchyna" fell within the boundaries of today's Poland and the majority of the "Lemkos" living on these territories were forcefully deported during and after the war to the then "Soviet Union". The Ukrainian ethnic population of these territories that was not deported from their ethnic territories to the Soviet Union were forcefully resettled onto lands vacated by the Germans in 1947, in a scandalous military exercise code named "Operation Vistula"/Akcja "Wisla".

Negotiations with Polish authorities were not successful in obtaining a Lemko style church, even though a suitable, already dismantled, church was sitting in storage in the Sanok Outdoor Museum in Poland. As a result, a number of Lemko culture activists approached the museum in 1988 in order to persuade the museum to add a Lemko style church to the collection by building a replica of an existing Lemko church. And thus in 1989 a decision was made to build a replica of the church of Sts. Kuzmy & Demyana from the village of Kotan', which was originally constructed in 1841. The same year (1989) architectural drawings of this church were prepared by Ms. Maria Matviyiv and Roman Rodowyc of the museum.

Later on, on December 20, 1990, a committee dedicated to the erection of the church was approved by the directors of the Museum. This committee consisted of Messrs.: Ivan Krasovsky, Boryslav Rybak, Ivan Hrecko, Petro Kohut, Dmytro Solynko, Yaroslava Shvahlava and Maria Matviyiv. The primary benefactor became Bozhena and Oleh Iwanusiw from Toronto, Canada who donated 1,500 copies of their photo album "Church in Ruins". All funds that were realized from the sale of these photo albums were used
toward the construction of the church.

The grounds for the church were blessed on April 7, 1991, by his Eminence Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky and Kyr Volodymyr Sternuk, the Archbishop of L'viv. And thus began the process of construction of the church of Sts. Volodymyr & Olha.


Assembling the Dome of the Babynets
Standing left to right - Mr. Solynko, unknown, Ivan Krasovsky, Bozhena Iwanusiw, Petro Kohut, unknown, and Oleh Iwanusiw

As a result of his trip to Canada and US, the chairman of the church committee, Ivan Krasovsky, was instrumental in collecting additional funds for the church in 1991, including:
* $500 from the Association of Lemkos in Canada,
* $500 from Maksym Masley, Canada,
* $100 from Pavlo Lopata, Canada,
* $100 from Teodor Kolos, Canada, &
* $100 from Mychaylo Dzvinka, USA,

As the cost of construction were rising due to the high inflation rate additional funds were received in 1992 from:
* $3,460 from Association of Defense of Lemkivshchyna and fraternal associations, USA,
* $100 from S. Seredny, England,
* $300 from Ivan Olenyc, Canada,
* $235 from Lemkos in Australia,
* Numerous donations from individuals in Ukraine.

The majority of the church construction was completed by August 1992 and the blessing of the church was planned for September 7, 1992. Due to very unseasonal weather and stormy conditions the blessing was postponed. Regardless, the first liturgy was held here on that day by rev. Mucha from Krynycya (Poland), and rev. Anatoly Duda from Monastyrsk.

The ceremony of the consecration of the church took place on September 13, 1992, with Kyr Fylymon Kurchaba, bishop of Drohobych, presiding and assisted by rev. Anatoly Duda. The choir "Lemkivshchyna", under the direction of Ivan Kushnir, added pomp to the ceremony.

The bronze plaque mounted on front of the church blessed on the day of consecration says:
The parcel for the church was blessed by the Patriarch Myroslav Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky and his Excellency Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk on April 7, 1991. The newly erected church was consecrated by his excellency Bishop Fylymon Kurchaba on September 13, 1992.
Primary donors were Bozhena and Oleh Iwanusiw (Canada) - the authors of "Church in Ruins".
Other donors included:
Association of the Defense of Lemkivshchyna, USA,
Association of Lemkos in Canada,
The Museum of Architecture in L'viv,
Individual donors.
May the Almighty bless you all.
The committee for the erection of the church.


The story of construction of the latest "Lemko Style Church" did not end on September 13, 1992. This was just the beginning of activity of numerous Lemkos and Lemko associations.

During the next four years regular monthly services were held at the church with the rev. Anatoly Duda presiding while the interior of the church was being completed and decorated. Thus a number of icons for the icon screen "iconostas" were purchased; a number of embroidered towels were donated by M & I. Hryndzuk and A. Chmey; a set of carved candle holders were donated by A. Petryschak; the construction of the icon screen was contracted and is almost completed. The work of beautifying the church never seems to be completed.

  • Start of Construction, January 1992
  • Examining the "Foundations" - 1991, l-r, Petro Kohut, unknown, Bozhena Iwanusiw, Ivan Krasovsky, Ivan Hretsko, Boryslav Rybak - museum director.
  • Close-up view of two of the crosses, 1993
  • The "Babynets" tower is hoisted into position, 1992
  • Almost done! - 1992
  • Almost, almost done! - 1992
  • The day of Consecration
  • Bishop Fylymon Kurchaba officiating at the Consecration
  • Bishop Fylymon Kurchaba during Consecration
  • "Ilonostas" (Icon Screen) - 1996
  • A photo of the Bronze plaque, 1996

If you, the visitor to this web site, should find yourself in L'viv, by all means visit the Lemko style church of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha on the grounds of the "Andrij Scheptyckyj Outdoor Museum", or "Schevchenkivskyj Hai" as it is popularly known. You will be especially well rewarded if you visit on that Sunday morning, when once each month, the services are held.



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Page prepared by Walter Maksimovich
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© LV Productions  Originally Composed: June 19th, 1997
Date last modified: February 6th, 2003