Female Monastic House of the Protection of The Most Holy Theotokos in Turkowice

Turkowice village is a special place for Orthodox people from Chełm region. As the Orthodox Ukrainians of Chełm region sang ‘do Turkowycz spiszyt narod na Ryzy Położennia’ [everybody hurries to Turkowice for the feast of the Deposition of the Virgin’s robe]. Though there was no Orthodox prayer heard in Turkowice for few years, the tradition has survived. The monastery in Turkowice was situated in the very centre of Chełm region, where the history of the region has begun. In Czermno, village near Turkowice, we can find some traces of famous town Czerwień, which gave the name to Grody Czerwieńskie. The exact day of establishing the monastery is unknown. One of the stories says that the Mother of God appeared in Turkowice and then the monastery was built. According to that story, Polish Prince Władysław Opolczyk wanted to transport all the treasures including the old icon of the Mother of God from Bełzo, which belonged to him, to his home town Opole . Turkowice was one of the stops during the journey. When the Prince wanted to go further, horses could not move the wagon with the icon on it. Doubling the efforts, it finally moved and the icon was to be taken to Częstochowa. At the place where the icon was there appeared the light in which the figure of the Holy Theotokos was visible and then it reflected on the canvas. The Orthodox people are said to built the church at that place, which gave the beginning for the monastery. There exist no, however, reliable historic records of the beginning of the monastery. What we know for sure is that there existed male Uniate monastery in Turkowice, which was closed in 1749 by Maksymilian Ryłło, Uniate bishop of Chełm and the Orthodox church, where the icon was, was subordinated to the parish in Sahryń. The monastic life in Turkowice reborned in 1903 when the church- branch of the convent in Radecznica- was established. In 1912 there was established independent Orthodox convent in which existed a teachers’ school, a place for meetings, a pharmacy and an agricultural school. Thousands of adherents were coming for the feasts to pray to the icon of the Mother of God. The feasts of the Deposition of the Virgin’s robe in Vlachernae (July, 15) and of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (October, 14) were the most ceremoniously celebrated. During the First World War the icon of the Mother of God of Turkowice was taken to Russia and it never came back. After the war the monastery’s buildings were taken away from the Orhodox people and the church was destroyed. In the twenties, however, when the Orthodox adherents came back to Chełm region, the feast in Turkowice revived. The chapel was built in which the copy of the miraculous icon was put and thousands of pilgrims were coming to Turkowice again. After a while Orthodox nuns started to live (unofficially) in Turkowice. Such a situation lasted until the half of the 40s of the 20th century. After the deportation of the Orthodox Ukrainians from Chełm region to Soviet Ukraine in 1944-1946 and to northern and western parts of Poland during Operation ‘Wisła’ in 1947, the Orthodox tradition was lost again. The chapel was devastated, miraculous spring was covered, the cemetery was destroyed. In 1981, when Bazyli, Metropolitan of Poland came to Turkowice, he found the copy of the icon in the remnants of the chapel. It was taken to Warsaw and then it was brought to the nearest Orthodox church in Tomaszów, where the feast reborned. In 1990 the copy of the icon was taken, because of the security issue, to Jabłeczna where the tradition of the feast has started. In Chełm region the feast of Turkowicka icon has started to be celebrated ceremoniously in 1995, firstly in Tomaszów Lubelski and then in Hrubieszów. It was also then that the former inhabitants started to come from Ukraine to the feast. The year 1999 was a turning point in the history as then the feast was celebrated in Turkowice village itself. The cross, which was put on the lot that became the property of the Orthodox Church again, was consecrated then. Since then on July the 15th in Turkowice the procession and consecration of the water take place. Bishops, priests and hundreds of pilgrims participate in the feast. In the autumn of 2006 the Orthodox Church won back the former Dom Ludowy [country house, place for meeting] which is situated opposite the cross. The building was adjusted for the religious purposes so that the feast of the icon of the Mother of God of Turkowice can be celebrated there.



22-546 Turkowice