Mukachevo eparchy

Mukachevo eparchy [Мукачівська єпархія; Mukachivska ieparkhiia]. A Ukrainian Catholic eparchy in Transcarpathia, with its see in Mukachevo (to 1780) and then Uzhhorod. The first mention of a bishop in Transcarpathia is from 1491, when the Hungarian king Ulászló (Władysław) II confirmed Ivan of the Mukachevo Saint Nicholas's Monastery as bishop. The first Uniate bishop of Mukachevo was P. Petrovych, who assumed the post in 1664. Previously, 63 priests in the eparchy had declared their union with Rome (see Uzhhorod Union of 1646), and Bishop Vasyl Tarasovych had personally converted to Catholicism, although he was not permitted to participate in the 1646 sobor. In 1725, Uniate territories were expanded, and the Maramureş region was added to the eparchy. Because there were no surviving documents concerning the founding of the eparchy or the establishment of the union there by the Vatican, the Hungarian Roman Catholic bishops of Eger in the 17th and 18th centuries claimed jurisdiction over the eparchy and attempted to annex it. In response Bishop Mykhailo Olshavsky worked, from 1749, to gain recognition of the eparchy's independence; it was finally granted by the pope in 1771. Andrii Bachynsky reorganized the eparchy, established several institutions, and moved its see to Uzhhorod.

Initially all the Greek Catholic parishes of northeastern Hungary belonged to the Mukachevo eparchy. Later the Prešov eparchy (1818), the Gerlia eparchy (1853), and the Hajdúdorog eparchy (1912) were separated from it. When the eparchy was recognized by Rome, it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Esztergom Hungarian Catholic metropolitan. Bishop Bachynsky's attempts to place it under the Uniate metropolitan of Halych (see Halych metropoly) in the late 18th century were unsuccessful. In 1937 the Vatican announced its intention to establish a Mukachevo metropoly with eparchies in Prešov, Uzhhorod, and Khust, but the outbreak of the Second World War prevented the implementation of the plan.

Situated on the border separating Ukrainians, Slovaks, and Hungarians, Mukachevo eparchy was exposed to a variety of cultural and political influences. In the 17th century many Hungarian magnates adopted Protestantism and attempted to introduce it throughout the eparchy. Later, Roman Catholicism was espoused by the local elite and supported by the state. In response to these pressures confessional strife was common. In the interwar period many inhabitants returned to Orthodoxy, and the Mukachevo-Prešov Orthodox eparchy was established in 1929. This eparchy, with its see in Mukachevo, claimed 121,000 followers in 1930.

The Soviet occupation of Transcarpathia in 1944 resulted in the martyrdom of Mukachevo eparchy's Uniate bishop, Teodor Yurii Romzha; the exile to Kazakhstan of his successor, Oleksander Khira; and the formal liquidation of the Greek Catholic eparchy in August 1949. From then until the late 1980s only the Orthodox Mukachevo-Uzhhorod eparchy under the Russian Orthodox church, with its see in Mukachevo, was officially sanctioned. The Greek Catholic church survived in the underground, however, and emerged again during the period of liberalization after 1985. (See also Ukrainian Catholic church.)

Pekar, A. Narysy istoriï Tserkvy Zakarpattia (Rome 1967)
—. The Bishops of the Eparchy of Mukachevo, with Historical Outlines (Pittsburgh 1979)

Wasyl Lencyk, Atanasii Pekar

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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