Cerkiew w Puchłach
Fot. Sławomir Milejski, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Orthodox church in Puchły – a unique monument of Orthodox church architecture

The Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Puchły is a unique monument of sacred architecture. For the Orthodox population of Podlasie, the village of Puchły is an important centre of Marian devotion. The parish church houses a particularly venerated icon of the Mother of God of Protection.

The first mention of an Orthodox church in the village of Pukhly dates back to 1578. Its establishment is linked to the legend of the revelation of the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Protection in the 16th century. An old man suffering from swollen legs lived under a linden tree on the hill where the church stands today. While praying one day, he noticed an image of the Virgin Mary on the top of the tree and his illness soon subsided. In memory of this event, the place was named Puchły, after the word swollen, which in the local dialect meant, among other things, swollen limbs.

Photo by Jarek Bryła, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cerkiew w Puchłach

According to another account, the icon also appeared to other inhabitants of the village asking for protection from an heir who wanted to force his subjects to convert to Greek Catholicism. Soon the icon miraculously appeared on the linden tree as a sign that Our Lady had answered their prayers, and the wicked heir died. The spreading linden tree has survived to this day and, together with its offshoots and oaks, forms a group of 15 natural monuments.

Parish church in 1900. Photo ИИМК Слюнькова И. Н. Храмы и монастыри Беларуси XIX века в составе Российской империи: Пересоздание наследия. – М.: Прогресс-Традиция, 2010. ISBN 978-5-89826-326-8 Invalid ISBN

In 1754, a hurricane damaged the old church. The then owner of the village, Colonel Józef Ludwik Wilczewski, then founded a new church. It burnt down in 1771, and with it probably also the miraculous icon. Another temple was built in 1798. – Another temple was built in 1798, a small chapel moved from the Narew region to the village of Cerkwisko near Ryboły. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was decided to build a new temple to accommodate a larger number of worshippers. In 1913-1918, the present church was built with a timber construction. It was built in the so-called Russo-Byzantine style with clear influences of Russian wooden construction. It was characterised by a monumental, strongly segmented mass, exceptionally rich ornamentation of the façade and an interesting interior covered with polychrome.

Cerkiew w Puchłach
Photo by AndrewTru, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The church in Puchły was severely damaged during the Second World War. In 1941, the roof including the domes was destroyed, as well as the interior. The ruined temple was rebuilt and new icons were written inside in 1961-1962 by Vladimir Vasilevich. In the following years, external repairs were carried out, an outbuilding was erected on the parish property and the rectory and psalmist’s house were renovated.

Photo by Yarl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The most valuable piece of equipment in the church is an 18th-century icon with the Virgin Mary. It had votive offerings with dates 1646, 1710, 1732, 1812 and 1855, which testified to healings. Surrounding the church are stone crosses from the late 19th century. In the church wall, dating from 1873, is the tomb of parish priest Gregory Sosnowski (☦1893) and his wife Leonila (☦1895), who in the 19th century founded a network of church schools for the local peasant population.

The church in Puchły was entered in the register of monuments on 27 February 2003.

Source: zabytek.pl

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