T H E   H I S T O R Y    O F    C A P U C H I N S
in Ukraine

Capuchins and polish kings

The history of Capuchins in Ukraine from the very beginning was closely interlinked with Poland. At that time Ukraine was a part of the Polish territory. King Jan III Sobieski invited the first monks as court chaplains for the royal family, and later obtained the Holy Seat's permission for them to settle in Poland for good. At first the permission involved only two cities Warsaw and Krakow.

The first monastery was built in Warsaw in Miodova street on the territory given by the king. On July 16, 1683 Jan III Sobieski himself solemnly put the corner-stone of temple and the monastery in their foundation. In 1694 Capuchins settled there.

The first monastery in Ukraine

In 1692 Capuchins came to Krakow, and in 1699 there was built the second monastery in Poland. The next shelter of the monks became the city of Lviv. In 1709 Capuchins accepted the offer of princess Elizabeth Seniavski from the family of Lyubomirski, the wife of the crown hetman and the governor of the province of Bielsk Adam Mykolai and came to Lviv. In 1715 it was officially announced about the establishment of the fellowship.

In 1723-1733 Lviv monastery hosted noviciate and from 1739 it hosted philosophy and theology faculties, which had a high level of education.

The golden age of Capuchins (1738-1772)

Even though from the very beginning Capuchins settled in the most important cities of the country: Warsaw (1683), Krakow (1692), Lviv (1707), Lyublin (1721) in the first half of the XVIII century their number didn't grow significantly. In 1738 it was the beginning of the Order in Poland, when the polish commissariat was turned over to Czech-Moravian province under its custody.

Czech Capuchins not only accepted the new foundations, but also, on their own looked for possibilities of creating new monasteries. In 1739-1745, 14 new monasteries were accepted, and the number of monks grew from 62 (1739) to 208 (1753). Owing to Czech Capuchins the polish commissariat in 1754 was raised to the rank of a province, which was named after saints Voitsekh and Stanislav.

To 1772 the province continued to grow in number of monasteries (to 25) and monks (to 375). At that time many monasteries emerge in eastern parts of Poland, which at present time are a part of Ukraine.

The division of the Polish province

After the division of Poland among Russia, Austria and Prussia (in 1772, 1793, 1793, 1795) the monks of the Order of the Polish Province found themselves in different countries. Capuchins in other territories found themselves in two empires some in the Austrian (Halychyna), and other in the Russian (central Ukraine and Volyn).

Capuchins in eastern Halychyna

In Austrian empire, part of which were eastern and western Halychyna, capuchins created Province of Halychyna . It included 8 monasteries. From that number on the territory of modern day Ukraine in Lviv, Olesk (near Zolochev), Kutkir (near Lviv), Mariampil, Marynopil (near Ivano-Frankivsk).

Emperor Joseph II by his decree closed monasteries in present day Ukraine Mariampil in 1783, Olesk and Lviv in 1785. And though it became possible to restore the monastery in Olesk, the Province of Halychyna was weakened as a result of the state persecution.

In 1864 the monastery in Krakow was affiliated to the Province of Halychyna. In 1908 this province was reduced to the rank of commissariat, which in 1921 was renamed to Krakow commissariat.

Revolutions of the beginning of the XX century, establishment of the Republic of Poland II and of the Soviet Union brought changes into life of the monks.

In the first half of the XX century in eastern Halychyna arose new monasteries: 1904 - in Lviv-Zamrstyniv, 1934 in Drohobych.

On May 30, 1939 Krakow commissariat was lifted to the rank of a province, which as named after Saint Joseph. The same year the monastery in Ostrig, Volyn region which previously belonged to Russian Province was returned to Krakow capuchins.

The same year the Soviet Union affiliated western Ukraine to the Soviet Ukraine, therefore capuchins in consequence of atheistic regime had to abandon the monasteries in Olesk, Kutkir, Ostrig, Lviv-Zamarstyniv, Drohobych.

The Russian province of capuchins (1795-1888)

Not less tragic is the history of the monks, who found themselves under the authority of the Russian empire.

After the third division of the Republic of Poland in 1796 eleven monasteries that were situated in the present day Ukraine created independent Capuchin province, which had the name of Russian (from the word Russia), under the patronage of saints Voitsekh and Stanislav. It included monasteries in Brusyliv, Vinnitsya, Volodymyr-Volyntski, Dunaivtsi, Zbyrzh, Koun, Lyubeshiv, Ostrig, Starokostiantyniv, Ustylug.

At the moment of founding the province numbered 99 monks. Owing to the privileges obtained from czar Paul I Capuchins could act freely. At that time was completed the construction of new monasteries in Dunaivtsi, Khodorkiv, Zbyrzh.

Two great uprisings of the Polish people against the Russian domination (in November of 1830-1831 and in January 863) discontinued abiding of Capuchins in central Ukraine and Volyn. Franciscans always have been close to ordinary people, therefore the czar authorities saw the danger of their influence on people and commenced termination of the Capuchin monasteries. After the first uprising only four monasteries remained open: in Vinnitsya, Starokostiantyniv, Bruyliv, Khodorkiv, which were liquidated after the second uprising. The longest held the monastery in Vinnitsya (till 1888). Thus the Russian Capuchin Province ceased to exist.

Ukraine without capuchins

After the liquidation of the Russian Province in 1888 on the territory of modern Ukraine , the monks officially dwelled only in Halychyna, where Austria reigned. However, their presence there continued only until the end of the Second World War. In the Soviet Ukraine remained only two capuchins: Serafin Kashuba and Khilari Vilk, who got temporary permission of soviet authorities to work among polish community. Serafin Kashuba till 1959 was the Father Superior in the city of Rivne, the apostle of the whole Volyn, and later the whole Soviet Union. Khilari Vilk was the dean of the temple in Bar, Vinnitsya region. Some of the capuchins from the Province of Krakow: Remigi Krants and Albin Yanokh soviet regime exiled to Siberia. Father Khilari Vilk also didn't escape Siberia.

After the death of Serafin Kashuba in 1977 Ukraine experienced 11 year- long capuchin silence, after which commenced new revival of capuchin presence in Ukraine.

Capuchins returned to Ukraine in 1988. The first was Stanislaw Padewsky, who is now the Bishop of Kharkov-Zaporozhye diocese. First, Brothers helped priests in their parish work, and then began creating their own cells: In 1989 Capuchins returned to their old monastery in Starokonstantinov; the following year they opened a cell in Krasilov; In 1992 they returned to Vinnitsa, and since 1993 Brothers Capuchins have been working in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev .

On January, 5 th 1995 Brother Richard Modelsky, a Provincial Minister of Krakow Province, turned to the General Governing Board asking to establish a Custodia for Brothers Capuchins working in Ukraine. Accordingly, a decree was issued on June, 13 th 1995, and came into function on July 5 th 1995. The head of the first Custodia was Brother Blazhey Suska. That time nine Brothers worked in Ukraine, and several Brothers from Ukraine were in Poland for basic formation course. Back then, Capuchins had four cells: in Starokonstantinov, Krasilov, Vinnitsa and Kiev.

During the following years the Custodia was developing both in terms of territory and number of its members. In 1999 new monastery houses were opened in Eastern Ukraine in Dnepropetrovsk and Dneprodzerzhinsk. At the beginning of 2002 Brother Yatzek Veligura, a Provincial Minister of Krakow Province suggested Brothers from Ukrainian Custodia opening a house in Russian Federation. In March 2002 Brother Peter Komornichak, a regular Dean of Ukrainian Custodia, went to Russia to get a first-hand acquaintance with the situation there and meet Bishops from Moscow and Saratov. In July 2002 brother Yatsek Veligura met His Grace Klement Pickel, the Bishop of Saratov Diocese to discuss an opportunity of creating a cell in Voronezh. On invitation of Bishop Pinkel in July 2003 the first Capuchins came to Voronezh . They were Brother Marek Bakezhinsky and Brother Victor Svidersky, who since August 2003 have lived in a new monastery house.

The development of the Order on those territories led to advancement the Custody of Minor Brothers Capuchins into a Vice-Province of Ukraine and Russia, subordinate to Krakow Province.

Currently Brothers Capuchins work in three dioceses in Ukraine: Kyiv-Zhitomir, Kamyanets-Podilskiy and Kharkiv-Zaporozhye, and also in Saratov diocese in Russia. In these dioceses there are 7 monasteries: in Vinnitsa, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev, Krasilov, Starokostantinov, and Voronezh (Russia) where 28 Brothers Capuchins live.


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