Blog Post

A Visit to St. Paraskewa’s Church in Radru?, Poland

Taking advantage of vacationing in Poland during Thanksgiving week in 2011, I made it a point to visit a number of sites in the country that had been listed on the World Monuments Watch over time. Some, like Prozna Street, I had been to before and frequently. Others were totally new to me. My goal was to visit St. Paraskewa’s Church in Radru?, which is on the 2012 World Monuments Watch.

Arriving in Poland on a Friday, I stayed the weekend and visited with friends. On Monday, I rented a car and began my journey to Radru?. My plan was to spend the night in Lubli? and then continue on to Lubaczów where I would meet the Director of the Borderland Museum, which now owns the site. He would take me to the church, which now functioned as a branch of the museum. Up until a few years ago, the church and its walled churchyard and nearby cemeteries had been owned by the Government of Poland and were entrusted to the care of the State Treasury. Needless to say, the State Treasury did not pay much attention to the site nor care for it. A few years ago, the museum won control of the site and had been on a campaign to raise awareness about it. Watch-listing is helping to secure funding from various governmental agencies for the restoration and safeguarding of this incredible wooden structure.

Mr. Stanislaw Makara, Director of the Museum, and his deputy, Barabara Woch, met me in Lubaczów and led me to Radru? about a ten minute drive to the east. At a place called Hryniec Zdrój, we veered off to the right on to a poorly maintained country road that offered a bumpy ride directly to the church. Drawing near, we came upon a house where we turned left and immediately saw the very picturesque church complex. We parked our cars off to the side in front of the wall that encircled the complex, where the local caretaker met us. Within a matter of minutes, we found ourselves in the churchyard, standing in front of what looked like a brand new church! Mr. Makara explained that funding had become available from the Ministry of Culture, leading to the complete reshingling of the church with new pine shingles, as well as the installation of a fire suppression system and an anti-lightning system. The work had just finished the day before, and the next day there was to be a formal dedication ceremony.

Off to the side stands the bell-tower, and Mr. Makara and I crawled in and climbed up to the top, admiring along the way the original mortise and tenon construction and the old-growth wood used to build the structure. What a magnificent view from the summit! However, the prospect of seeing the interior of the church brought us down from the bell-tower, and the caretaker opened the church to reveal an empty building. Mr. Makara pointed out that some wall paintings had been stabilized and noted that the icons that had made up the iconostasis years ago had been found in storage at ?ancut Palace in ?ancut, Poland. They had been quickly returned to the museum where they currently await restoration. Mr. Makara estimates he will need the equivalent of $150,000 in order to complete this project. Then we walked around the site and visited both cemeteries connected with the church. It was getting cold, and Makara suggested moving on to a warmer location for a nice late lunch, which we found in Hryniec Zdrój. It was already about 4 p.m. and very dark. I was anxious to drive on to my next destination, Sandomierz, but Makara insisted I visit the museum to see the icons for the church and to share some tea. That done, I thanked my hosts profusely and set out in the dark to Sandomierz.