Church of the Holy Cross Exaltation
We have prepared some practical multimedia materials, which we hope will bring closer to these beautiful historic Polish Orthodox churches. Watching an introductory video with comments from the guide and spiritual guardian of the temple, decorated with moody Church chants, you can emphasize with its atmosphere. Going on a virtual tour, which includes 360 panoramic photos, you can quite imagine yourself inside the temple. For active tourists we have prepared a proposal for a cycling route. We invite you to a virtual tour of the orthodox church, and in the future to visit it in person.
Narew is a small town on Podlasie with 1.5 thousand inhabitants. Located 40 km south-east of Bialystok above the picturesque Narew River between two national parks: Bialowieski and Narwianski. Narew has a rich history. It is an ancient royal city, which received city rights already in 1514. In those days it was a transit point for monarchs traveling between the Kingdom and Lithuania. The city developed intensively until the middle of the 17th century. The devastation caused by the Swedish “flood” caused the decline of Narew, which resulted in the deprivation of Narew’s city status in 1934.
Located 7 km from Narew, the village of Ordynki exists, located among the marshes, the skit of Saints Antony and Theodosius Pechersky, which was created in 2009 by the late Archimandrite Father Gavriil. Skit continues the tradition of the Narew Orthodox Monastery of the Ascension of the Lord, which was founded in this region in the early 16th century and existed for almost 300 years.
One of the main monuments of Narew is the Orthodox church of the Holy Cross Exaltation, belonging to the Narwski Deanary of Warsaw – Bielsk Orthodox Diocese.
It is difficult now to determine the date of the construction of the first Orthodox church in Narew. According to some historians it could have been even 1510. According to a legend written in the parish book in 1900, the church was sponsored by the Orthodox prince Iwan Wisniowiecki, who, traveling from Warsaw to Wilno, saw the icon of St. Antony Pechersky on this place and decided to dig a chapel in his memory. As for historical facts, the first mention of the existence of the “Ruthenian” church in Narew can be found in the land registry of 1560.
In the early 80s of 19 century, the Orthodox parish in Narew, which belongs to the Belsk Deanary of the Lithuanian – Wilno Orthodox Diocese, had more than 2,700 believers. In this regard, in 1882 the construction of a new majestic wooden temple was started, it was consecrated three years later as a temple of the Holy Cross Exaltation. This temple has survived to this day. In this place it is worth noting that the Orthodox parish at the end of the 19th century actively developed and in 1905 numbered about 3,100 believers.
In 1913, a stone fence and a gate were erected around the church. Two years later, Orthodox parishioners from Narew, fearing the approaching German army, went to the depths of Russia to refugees (biezenstwo) and for three years the church was closed. Despite the fact that in 1918 the liturgical life of the Narew church was revived, few parishioners returned to their homeland.
In the interwar period, the church in Narew received the status of a state parish.
Immediately after The Second World War, some believers emigrated to the east, to the Soviet Union. The church at that time was part of Warsaw – Bielsk Orthodox diocese,[PAUZA] and in the 60s of the 20th century – in the newly created Narew deanary.
In 1990, the church in Narew was included in the register of architectural monuments.
It is a wooden building of log structure, upholstered by wood, standing on a stone – cement foundation. The temple is oriented. It was erected on the cross plan, and the width of the transept is equal to the width of the nave. On the east side, two rectangular sacristys are adjacent to the altar closed on three sides. In the western part there is a long porch, topped with a bell tower. At the entrances to the church – the main and side – are decorated porticos, each with six columns. The roof of the temple has a different shape: above the aisle – sloping, over the altar – three-cade, above the bell tower – four-, and above – eight-chanted. At the intersection of the main and side naves is a bulbous dome, supported by an eight-sided drum.
In the second half of the 19th century churches of this architectural style were built on Podlasie, in Nowa Wola, Losinka and Pasynki.
The interior of the church is new. After the fire that broke out on Good Thursday 1990 during an evening service with the reading of 12 Passion Evangelions, the interior of the church was fully restored. New icons and a beautiful three-row iconostasis were inserted. Wooden walls, upholstered by wood on the inside, are covered with figurative – ornamental polychromy. Four years after the tragic fire, thanks to the great efforts of the protopriest Vasily Roshchenko and parishioners, a liturgical life returned to the church in Narew. On September 25, 1994, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland Bazyli concecrated it. In the same year, an ornate baptismal well was built next to the temple.
Here is a proposal of a cycling route for active tourists. To use it, download the file to your computer by clicking the button on the left, unzip it, upload the .gpx file to any GPS device for navigation… and on the road. We wish you a successful and fruitful journey.
Four years after the fire that broke out in the spring of 1990, the church in Narew was completely renovated. New icons and a beautiful three-row iconostasis were inserted. Wooden walls, covered with wood on the inside, are covered with polychromy. On September 25, 1994, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland Bazyli concecrated it.
In 2020, thanks to the financial support of the European Union, the general renovation of the church was completed and returned the original beauty to this ancient wooden temple.