Saints Cosmos and Damian

Lukov-Venecia, Slovakia

Background

The distinctive wooden architecture of the Church of Saints Cosmos and Damian reflects the unique cultural and religious traditions the Greek Orthodox Church maintained in Slovakia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries despite the expansion of Roman Catholicism in the region. The Church of Saints Cosmos and Damian, from 1708 is one of the oldest wooden Greek Orthodox churches in the country. It is named after 3rd century Roman brothers, who were doctors and venerated as saints for their acts of healing and their steadfast faith, despite persecution and execution for remaining true to Christianity. Blending both Western and Byzantine architectural styles, the timber structure covered in wood shingles features three towers and an ornate iconostasis, a carved and painted wooden screen displaying religious iconography. A piddashya, an open gallery, is located on the north and south facades of the building.

How We Helped

Saints Cosmos and Damian, like other wooden churches in the area, was in a state of deterioration and required the removal of all corroded elements for cleaning and repair or replacement according to the level of deterioration. Components of the church that were conserved included the roof, the entrance, the bell tower, the iconostasis, and the tower masonry. WMF began conservation of Saints Cosmos and Damian in 2005. One of the special features of the project was the fabrication of new shingles for the roof, hand-hewn by local craftsmen. Over time, Insects, moss, and mold infected the wood and water seeped through deteriorated areas of the structure, damaging the baroque interiors, including the iconostasis. The correction of these problems will protect the building from further infestations. Historic research, survey work, wood analysis and investigation of painted finishes were essential elements of the project.

Why It Matters

The Church of Saints Cosmos and Damian belongs to a series of distinctive wooden churches designed in the style of Lemko, a term referring to a small ethnic group from the Carpathian mountain region. The church of Saints Cosmos and Damian, dedicated to Christian martyrs, is a symbol of the Greek Orthodox communities who persevered and upheld their customs in the face of mounting discrimination in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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