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Helmet. They have photos of the missing portraits. They hope to find the originals. Władysław Reymont watched them over 100 years ago

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Conservators from Chełm (Lubelskie Voivodeship) are looking for portraits of 11 Uniate clergymen who were lost during World War II or – according to witnesses – after its end. Only photos taken in the mid-30s of the last century remain of them. The portraits were seen by Władysław Reymont at the beginning of the 20th century, which he mentioned in his book about the Chełm Land. – Whether they have survived to our times is a great mystery – experts say.

During the First World War, part of the museum’s collection was taken to the depths Russia or looted. The surviving museum exhibits were stored in 1919 in the seat of the Chełm starosty, and then transferred to the then-forming museum at the State Gimnazjum im. Stefan Czarniecki in Chełm.

Read also: The building of the former church reveals more secrets. “That’s the beauty of monuments”

– Out of all the portraits that Reymont saw years ago, 11 with Uniate clergymen and one portrait of an Orthodox priest – Eulogius certainly survived the First World War. We know this because in the mid-1930s, Kazimierz Czernicki – the author of the book “Chełm, the past and souvenirs” – collecting iconographic material for publication, commissioned photographs of portraits that were exhibited in the school museum – reports Paweł Wira, head of the Chełm Regional Office of the Provincial Office Protection of Monuments in Lublin.

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According to some, they were lost during World War II, according to others, in the post-war years

Photographs showing portraits have survived to our times and are in the archives of the Chełm branch of the Lublin Conservator of Monuments.

Eulogiusz (Gieorgijewski), (1868-1946), the first Ordinary of the Orthodox Eparchy of Chełm. A portrait that has survivedPaweł Wira/ WUOZ in Lublin

– We have published them on our Facebook profile. We hope that maybe thanks to this, we will be able to find the original portraits. Whether they have survived to our times is a great mystery. According to one of the versions of events, they were lost during World War II, while according to oral accounts of witnesses, they luckily survived the war and were lost only in the post-war years. Only one survived – the portrait of Eulogius. It is in our resource – says Wira.

The museum at the school operated until the outbreak of World War II. After its completion, it was reactivated. In the years 1953-1969, the museum collections were gradually moved to the building of the former Piarist college at ul. Lubelska 55 and currently they are part of the resources of the Chełm Land Museum. Wiktor Ambroziewicz.

The future Nobel Prize winner visited the museum. He’s been looking at the portraits they’re looking for now

“I entered the Museum, which, like all the buildings surrounding the cathedral, is very clean, very monotonous, very carefully maintained and built in a very ‘kasion’ style” – wrote Władysław Reymont in the book – published in 1911 – “From the Land of Chełm. Impressions and Notes.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the future Nobel Prize winner set off on a journey following the martyrdom of the Uniates of Podlasie and Chełm.

– It’s hard to say why Reymont became interested in this community. Perhaps it was because the Uniates were primarily peasants, i.e. peasants, and the writer described the lives of peasants – wonders the head of the Chełm branch of the Provincial Monument Protection Office in Lublin.

He adds that the publication “From Chełm land. Impressions and notes” is a kind of reportage, while the museum Reymont writes about was established in 1882 by the Orthodox brotherhood.

– It was located in the building of the current presbytery of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chełm. Among other things, elements of equipment and decor of Uniate churches were collected there, which, after the dissolution of the Union of Brest, were turned into Orthodox churches, he describes.

The Union of Brest, under which a Uniate church was established, was concluded in 1596. The dissolution of the union was announced in 1839 at the synod in Polotsk. Temporarily, only the diocese of Chełm survived, which was liquidated in 1875.

Leon Kiszka (1668-1728), Uniate Metropolitan of Kiev, Bishop of Włodzimierz-BrzegPaweł Wira/ WUOZ in Lublin

– In the museum where Władysław Reymont joined, there were presented – painted probably in the 19th century – portraits depicting 11 Uniate clergymen living in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They were, for example: the Bishop of Chełm, Jakub Jan Susza (he lived in the years around 1610-1687), the Metropolitan of Kiev and the Bishop of Włodzimierz-Brzeg, Leon Kiszka (1668-1728), or the Bishop of Chełm, Jan Teraszkiewicz (1793-1863), mentions Wira.

Władysław Reymont about two worlds looking at each other with “silent eyes”

He points out that the exhibition also presented a portrait of Eulogiusz (Gieorgijewski), the first Ordinary of the Orthodox Eparchy of Chełm, who lived in the years 1868-1946.

Jakub Jan Susza (ca. 1610-1687), Uniate Bishop of ChełmPaweł Wira/ WUOZ in Lublin

– He just enjoyed a bad reputation among his contemporaries, which was mentioned by Reymont when he wrote: “On one of the walls there are portraits of former Uniate bishops and metropolitans in a couple of rows, the Pocieje, Terlecki and Rutski, creators of the union, its benefactors, defenders and martyrs, and on the opposite side, the severe, fanatical heads of contemporary shepherds, with the famous Eulogius at the end. Two worlds look at each other with mute eyes, two cultures and two chasms, never filled with anything.” The Nobel laureate summed up his feelings in one sentence, smiles the conservator.

Read also: The building of the former church reveals more secrets. “That’s the beauty of monuments”

Main photo source: Paweł Wira/ WUOZ in Lublin

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