Requiem for forgotten shrines
The ruins of the former Polish Catholic Church have been preserved in Kovalivka, Ternopil region.
History of the church in the village of Kovalivka
For a Ternopil village of just over a thousand inhabitants, this two-towered church with its annexes looks rather unusual - too big. But once upon a time, a large Polish community lived here.
This church of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in Kovalivka in 1862-1864. The church was consecrated in 1882. In 1885, an organ was installed in the church.
From the first years of the twentieth century, Kovalivka had its own separate parish, which included neighbouring villages. In the 1930s, the parish had more than a thousand parishioners.
During the Soviet era, a warehouse was here (probably a fertiliser or grain storage facility). Since the mid-1980s, the building has not been used and has been left to its fate. Since then, the fate of the Catholic church has become terrible. Today, the church's state of disrepair is appalling - it is more a ruin than a building. Ten years ago, the church was in a slightly better condition than it is now. It had a roof, a ceiling, and more preserved paintings. Now there is no roof.
The entrance to the temple was through an extension - a portico with a triangular pediment on which a stone cross stands. The entrance was made on three sides through three portals with archivolts and pilasters preserved for some reason only on one side. The two side entrances have transoms with wrought-iron decorations in the form of Christograms of Jesus Christ (JHS) and the Virgin Mary (A M - Ave, Maria?) in a wooden frame and wooden decoration underneath. The windows of the church once had stained glass windows, but now only iron bars remain.
At the entrance, there is a half-broken stone aspersorium and a cross above it. And under our feet we can see bricks with the initials JM. The original tiles on the floor are partially preserved.
There is complete ruins in the temple. The skilfully executed paintings on various biblical subjects evoke astonishment and painful admiration.
Why Kovalivska church is unique?
The skillfully executed paintings on various biblical subjects evoke astonishment and painful admiration.
Unfortunately, the hand of the master is unknown:. He reproduced the entire paintings on the walls from the life of the Saviour, the Blessed Virgin Mary and others like:
- The Holy Spirit
- The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Presentation of the Holy Gifts
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
- The way to Calvary
- The crucifixion of Jesus Christ
- The women and Joseph came for the Body of Christ
- Epiphany of the Lord
- The Ascension of the Lord
- The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
But they are in danger of complete disappearance! The vault of the church was wooden, not brick, as is often the case. Now, due to the lack of a roof, the vault is rotting, the plaster is falling off, and the paintings are being destroyed. Unfortunately, I was not able to see and photograph all the paintings in the apse, because instead of the throne, trees now dominate there. The stone altar remained, but I could not get to it because of the trees.
A rather large priest's house is located not far from the church. In Soviet times, after the Poles were evicted, a school was opened here. Later, when a new one was built in the village, a veterinary pharmacy was set up in the former plebaneum. Now it is a residential building in decent condition.
But the Polish cemetery is abandoned and forgotten. Trees and bushes have overgrown over the graves. Most of the monuments and tombstones have been knocked down and overgrown with moss. Complete oblivion.
And the one hundred and fifty-year-old church is really in trouble, it is on the verge of complete destruction. Is there any hope of salvation? The situation with the status of this architectural monument is strange. The church in Kovalivka with its magnificent paintings is not listed in any register: neither in the local monuments of the Ternopil region nor in the newly discovered ones. How is this possible? Hey!
This cat from the Kharkiv region knows what war is. And we, Ukrainians, already know well how an architectural monument can disappear in a second. And for some reason, we do not understand that we are losing our architectural heritage not only because of the war, but because of human indifference and ignorance.
A dying church in Kovalivka with unique paintings is begging for help!