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Due to some sources Roman Catholic church organization in Volyn became to form in the XI century, though historians believe that in the X century Prague Diocese was extended to the rivers Bug and Styr. It is presumed that in the capital of that period – Volodymyr-Volynskyi –catholic episcopate already existed in 10781094. But the history of Lutsk Diocese became exactly known in the second half of XIV century.

The first famous bishop who was in Volyn was Dominican monk Peter, of German origin, consecrated in Salzburg in the year 1356. So Volodymyr-Volynskyi ( in Latin Vladimiria or Lodomeria) was the first catholic Episcopal capital in Volyn.

In Lithuanian-Russian time, exactly in 1428, Grand Duke Vitovt transferred Episcopal cathedral to a fast-growing new Volyn centre – Lutsk. A new Diocese was called in Latin luceoriensis.The first bishop of Lutsk was the 6th bishop of Volodymyr – Andriy from Plavka (Splavskyi), during whose rule episcopacy was transferred to Lutsk.

Episcopacy covered vast territories – the whole Volyn, western Polissia, Southern and Central Pidliashia. That is why at that time the Episcopacy was called Lutsk-Brest and from 1797 –Lutsk-Zhytomyr. The Diocese with Lutsk in its centre was the biggest one in Russian-Lithuanian-Polish State and played significant part in social and religious life. In that time Lutsk was called “Rome of the East”, it underlined the exclusive place of the city in the life of Catholic church. Lutsk bishops sat in Senate of Great Lithuanian Principality and after Lublin Union in 1569 took the 10th place in the Senate of Republic. Moreover, they had a privilege to keep State Crown Stamp. The faithful were people of different nationalities – at first mainly German and Polish merchants and citizens, then local Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Belorussian noblemen. Before Lublin Union a citizen of Polish Crown could not become a bishop of Ukrainian Diocese. That is why the policy of local bishops was aimed at establishing peace and good relationship between faithful of different nationalities. They felt responsible for these people and for this land. There is a very significant fact that Lutsk bishop Victoryn Wierzbicki (15671588 рр.), of Ukrainian origin, had hesitated a lot before signing Lublin Union with Poland, seeing in it the threat to local Volyn people. By the way, he was said to write his letters to Polish King “not in Latin or Polish, but in Ukrainian”.

Бернард Мацєйовскі, єпископ Луцький

Trying to reconcile Catholics and Orthodox in Volyn and in Ukraine in general, another Lutsk bishop, Bernard Maciejowski (15881600 рр.) acts as initiator of signing Brest Union (1596), from which originates the history of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Let’s not forget that it is in Torchyn, near Lutsk, in the residence of Catholic bishops, the Appeal to Pope Clement VIII about the union of the Churches was made. The activity of bishop Martyn Szyszkowski (16041607) was in the same direction. Due to him the idea of the union between the Churches found more and more followers among Volyn population. That is why Lutsk became the place of meeting of Catholic and Orthodox clergy in 1694, where the priests of both confessions were trying to find the solutions of common problems. Bishop Olexandr Vyhovsky (17031714 р), originated from the family of a famous Hetman of Ukraine Ivan Vyhovsky, had big merits to the Church. It is him who founded the first Roman Catholic Seminary in Lutsk (1706). Lutsk Episcopal capital never lacked devoted and dignified shepherds. Especially it is worth to mention the bishop Kasper Cieciszowski (17981827), who, during the epidemic hurried to help all Lutsk citizens, helping all with food and medicine, regardless of nationality or confession. Significant is the fact that bishop of Lutsk found great respect even among the Jewish citizens.

In XV-XVI centuries a number of churches increased, new monasteries were founded. Franciscan monks who first arrived with mission to Rus had there their proper Rus vicariate depending directly on the General of the Congregation. Special hospital congregation founded in XVI century by St. John of God were the Bonifratres Order. Monks in their hospitals took care of the sick and were famous for their knowledge of healing herbs; their congregation was in Lutsk and Lviv. The activity of Jesuit Order or Society of Jesus deserves special attention. It arrived in Ukraine when alongside with dramatic decline of Orthodox Church general rise of Protestant movements was noticeable. Making their aim to spread Catholic faith, Jesuits first of all paid attention to the state of education. Monastery and school-collegiums were founded in Lutsk as well. Although educational system based on European scholastic method with Latin as a language of teaching, Jesuits in Lutsk led “Slav school” in which main language of teaching was Ukrainian.
In 1596 Orthodox bishops signed the act of Union, the idea of which appeared on Volyn land. But Union did not solve the contradictions between confessions and even turned into bloody conflict – for the idea of Union Saint Jozafat Kuntsevych was murdered. He was born in Volodymyr-Volynskyi and gave his life in the name of Christian unity.

The territory of the Diocese changed with time. In 1795 empress Catherine II cancelled all dioceses: most of the territory was transferred to Pinsk Diocese, part of it – to Letychiv Diocese. Then, in 1798, Lutsk and Zhytomyr Dioceses were united and soon in 1883 Kamianets Diocese was given to the ordinaries of these lands. It is worth mentioning that it was not one diocese but two separate ones – with separate capitularies, cathedral, consistories, seminaries and clergy. Kasper Cieciszowski, the last Kyiv bishop, became the first bishop of Lutsk-Zhytomyr. This and other changes Pope Pius VI approved by bulla “Maximus undique pressi calamitatibus” of 17 November 1790. The following changes in the order of the Diocese were made by Concordat of 3 August 1847, signed between the Holy See and Russia: the territory of the Diocese was enlarged due to the lands of Kyiv region.

After October revolution and war vast territories of Lutsk-Zhytomyr Diocese in 1921 were divided between Poland and Soviet Russia according to Riga Treatment. As Lutsk remain in borders of that time Poland, Pope Pius XI renewed separate Lutsk Diocese in 1925. Parish chain of the Diocese, which was to a great extent destroyed by Tsar Authorities, grew fast: in the early 20th the Diocese had 94 parishes but before World War II there were already 167. In 1939 Soviet Union occupied Volyn. Repression among clergy and laity and transferring of people started there. Then, after fascists’ occupation, terror and tragic events in 1943 in consequence of it many Catholics were murdered and later after expatriation people to Poland, only small catholic enclaves were left and survived. Priests shared the fate of their laity. Out of 254 priests of Lutsk Diocese 188 undergone different kinds of repression, 51 priests died tragically during the War, 41 priests were in German and Soviet camps, 16 priests suffered other kinds of terror (arrests, interrogations, tortures), 79 priests were forced to leave.

Єпископ Адольф Шельонжек

The last Roman Catholic bishop in Lutsk was Adolf Szelążek. After his arrest and sentence in Kyiv prison in 1946 (the bishop was 80 years old at that time) he was exiled to Poland. Lutsk Episcopal capital, never liquidated due to Church Canons, was left without its Head. Communists took all churches from devotes: part of them was destroyed, including heritage asset; the other part was turned into outbuildings, warehouses, clubs. Planetarium and Museum of atheism were arranged in the Cathedral. Those priests who voluntarily left in the Diocese, had to work underground, they were arrested and imprisoned, the authorities tried hard to exterminate faith from people’s souls. About heroic work of the priests Serafin Kaszuba, Andrzej Gladusiewicz, Józef Kuczyński, Władysław Bukowiński one can read on the page about witnesses of faith.

Only in 1991 the reinstatement of Latin hierarchy in Ukraine took place, but Lutsk Diocese was restored 18 May 1996. Archbishop Marian Jaworski was appointed Apostolic Administrator and 26 March 1998 Holy Father appointed Reverend Markian Trofymiak Bishop Ordinary of Lutsk Diocese. Solemn enthronement of Bishop Markian Trofymiak to Lutsk Cathedral took place 16 May 1998. From July 2012 Markian Trofymiak is Bishop-Emeritus. Reverend Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk, Auxiliary Bishop of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese, was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Lutsk Diocese.

12 April 2014 Vitalis Skomarowski, former Auxiliary Bishop of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese, was appointed Bishop Ordinary of Lutsk Diocese.



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