Translated by Nadezhda Filipchik for OCP News Service – 29/9/16
In the middle of September 2016, Polish Orthodox believers celebrated the 90th anniversary of the returning of the people of Lemkos to the Orthodox Church from the Uniate Church. A small village of Tylawa located on the border between Poland and Slovakia became the center of celebrations.
The village of Tylawa is a significant place for a Polish part of the Subcarpathian region and for all the Polish Orthodox Church. In the autumn of 1926 the residents of the village who are the people of Lemkos (Rusyns) announced their desire to return and reunite with the Orthodox Church from the Uniate Church. During a few years after this event almost 50 thousand of Lemkos decided to support the decision of the Tylawa residents and to return to Orthodoxy as well. These days the descendants of these people came to Tylawa to celebrate together with the guests from Romania, the 90th anniversary of the so-called schism of Tylawa.
Rusyns adopted the Eastern Rite Christianity in the middle of the 9th century. A lot of laity and even some representatives of the Uniate clergy living in Carpathians considered themselves Orthodox Christians even before the schism of Tylawa. Yet massive liturgical changes initiated by the Uniate clergy from Galicia together with the Ukrainian nationalist propaganda made Lemkos abandon the Eastern Catholic Church. The massive return of the Lemkos to Orthodoxy was preceded by the activity of the martyr Maxim Gorlitsky. Having been killed by an Austrian army officer for the Orthodox Christian faith, he was heard shouting before his death: “Long live the holy Orthodoxy, long live holy Russia!”
The bishop Paisios of Gorlice told journalists during the celebrations “Orthodoxy busted as a flame in the hearts of believers, both of the people who heard the words of the martyr and of the people who learned about them and this flame embraced all our country”.