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Published: August 21st 2009
Wooden Church in Bodruzal
The Slovak Greek Catholic Church in Bodruzal from 1658.
After finishing my class in Poland, I headed back to Slovakia. Sylvia and her family came to Lublin to pick me up. After one day back in Roznava, Sylvia and I headed to Presov, Slovakia so I could attend a research conference on religious geography in Europe. The conference went well and on the third day, we had a small group tour of some of the most important religious architecture in Northeast Slovakia. This region has a group of small wooden churches that were placed on the UNESCO World Hertiage List last summer while I was here. These churches are unique in the world for their architecture, construction, and in a few cases, for the specific denomination that uses them. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is a very small Eastern Rite Catholic Church that exists in this region of Slovakia. They use Eastern Rite rituals during their service and to most, would look like Greek or Russian Orthodox, however, they recognize the Pope and are thus in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This is particularly interesting because they are one of the very few Catholic minority churches which is allowed to have both married and celibate clergy. Only celibate clergy
Wooden Church in Nizny Komarnik
The Greek Catholic church in Nizny Komarnik was rebuilt three times. The first two were destroyed in World War I and World War II.
are allowed to become bishops, however.
Several of the wooden churches were built and are used by Slovak Greek Catholics. A few are Roman Catholic, and the remaining are Lutheran and Greek Orthodox. They are made either mostly or completely out of wood. In some cases, this was for a religious reason. Nails were forbidden on the basis that they were the tools of Jesus' crucifixion. In other cases, wood was used for financial reasons, as wood was a much less expensive building material. Some of these churches are from the 17th century, while others are reconstructed after being destroyed in either World War I or II. This region of Slovakia was the site of some of the heaviest fighting of World War II. The Battle of Dukla Pass was fought nearby.
During the battle for Dukla Pass alone, there were over 70,000 casualties. We visited both the German cemetary in Svidnik as well as the Czech, Slovak, and Soviet cemetary and war memorial. We also saw some World War II Soviet equipment at a nearby museum. Finally, we stopped through the city of Bardejov, which had one of the best preserved town centers in Slovakia and is also a UNESCO site.
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