Kholm eparchy

Image - Kholm (Chelm): John the Theologian Orthodox Church (1846-49).

Kholm eparchy [Холмська епархія; Kholmska eparkhiia]. An eparchy founded in the first half of the 13th century by Prince Danylo Romanovych of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia in the Kholm region and Podlachia. The see was in Uhrusk until ca 1240, when it was transferred to Kholm. Kholm eparchy was under the Kyivan metropolitan except for a short period in the 14th century, when it was part of Halych metropoly. From the mid-14th century it was known as Kholm and Belz eparchy. The eparchy's hierarchy joined the Church Union of Berestia in 1596, although Orthodox forces continued to fight for control of the eparchy for several decades. The more renowned Uniate bishops were Dionysii Zbiruisky (1585–1603), who accepted the Church Union, Metodii Terletsky (1630–49), who defended the Uniate church against Latinizing clergy, Yakiv Susha (1652–87), Fylyp Volodkovych (1731–56), and Maksymiliian Ryllo (1759–84). During their tenures, Kholm eparchy had a theological seminary, a school for training deacons, and three monasteries (in Kholm, Yablochyn, and Turkovychi).

Kholm eparchy was divided in the First Polish Partition of Poland in 1772: the north, including Kholm, remained under Poland while the south was annexed by Austria. The entire eparchy became part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1809, and part of the Russian-ruled Congress Kingdom of Poland in 1815. Its location within the semi-autonomous kingdom allowed it to remain a Uniate eparchy throughout the first half of the 19th century when Tsar Nicholas I was destroying the Uniate Church in the Russian Empire and forcing its followers to convert to Orthodoxy. In 1807 it was again placed under the jurisdiction of Halych metropoly, and in 1830 it was directly subordinated to the Vatican.

From its inception, Kholm eparchy was faced with strong Latinizing and Polonizing pressures, because of its proximity to Poland. A Roman Catholic diocese of Kholm existed from the 19th century and it attracted many followers from among Polonized Ukrainians. Under Bishop F. Tsikhanovsky (1810–28), the number of Uniate parishes fell from 317 to 278. In the mid-19th century, the Russian authorities again began pressuring the bishops to return to Orthodoxy. When Bishop I. Kalinsky resisted, he was dismissed and the Russophile Y. Voitsitsky (1866–8) was appointed administrator of the Kholm eparchy. He maintained a pro-Russian policy and recruited Russophile priests from Galicia for the eparchy. When the Vatican refused to recognize Voitsitsky as bishop, the tsarist authorities agreed to the appointment of a new bishop, Mykhailo Kuzemsky (1868–71), a canon from Lviv. He attempted to stop the Latinization but at the same time remained loyal to Rome. In 1875 the authorities appointed Markel Popel, a supporter of Orthodoxy from Galicia, administrator of the eparchy. On 18 February 1875, on behalf of the Kholm clergy and consistory, Popel formally requested the admission of 120 parishes into the Orthodox church. As a result of widespread opposition to this move in the eparchy, 74 priests were deported to Siberia, 60 priests were expelled to Galicia, scores of faithful were killed, and some 600 were also deported to Siberia.

After the abolition of the Church Union, Kholm eparchy was incorporated within the Warsaw Orthodox eparchy, which was renamed Kholm and Warsaw eparchy, and Popel became the vicar-general of Kholm. In 1902 Evlogii Georgievsky became bishop of Kholm, and in 1905 Kholm eparchy again became a separate entity, headed by Georgievsky. The great resentment on the part of the clergy and faithful to the forced conversion to Orthodoxy is evidenced by the mass conversions to Roman Catholicism in the eparchy after the granting of some religious freedom by the authorities following the Revolution of 1905.

After the First World War, Kholm eparchy was incorporated into Warsaw eparchy, headed by Dionisii Valedinsky. Although the cathedral in Kholm was given to the Roman Catholic church by the Polish authorities in 1919 and Russians controlled the Orthodox church in Poland, the Kholm region became a major center of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, and many religious publications were issued in Ukrainian there. Under the German occupation during the Second World War, Kholm cathedral was returned to Orthodox Ukrainians and Kholm eparchy, officially called Kholm and Podlachia eparchy, was re-established (with Ivan Ohiienko as bishop) and Ukrainianized. In 1943 it was raised to the status of a metropoly; at that time it had 91 parishes. Kholm eparchy was finally abolished when it became part of Poland after the Second World War.

Pelesz, J. Geschichte der Union der Ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom, 1 (Vienna 1878)
Likowski, E. Dzieje Kościoła Unickiego na Litwie i Rusi w XVIII–XIX wieku, 2nd edn (Warsaw 1906)
Sonevyts’kyi, L. ‘Ukraïns’kyi iepyskopat Peremys’koï i Kholms’koï eparkhiï v XV–XVI st.,’ ZchVV, 1 (1955), no. 6; repr in L. Sonevyts’kyi, Studiï z istoriï Ukraïny (Paris–New York–Sydney–Toronto 1982)
Vlasovs’kyi, I. Narys istoriï Ukraïns’koï Pravoslavnoï Tserkvy, 3 (Bound Brook, NJ 1957)
Glinka, L. ‘Diocesia Ucraino-Cattolica di Cholm,’ AOBM, 1 (1975), no. 34

Wasyl Lencyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

List of related links from Encyclopedia of Ukraine pointing to Kholm eparchy entry:

A referral to this page is found in 18 entries.