Complex of the Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox cemeteries, Siemiatycze
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Complex of the Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox cemeteries

Siemiatycze

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The complex of the Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox cemeteries is a rare example of an ecumenical cemetery in the Podlasie region, with people of various faiths and rites being interred within a single burial site. The cemetery contains a number of valuable monuments of architecture (the Catholic chapel and the Evangelical chapel) as well as various old headstones and the war grave of January Insurgents. In addition, the cemetery also presents a historical value, serving as a tangible proof of the town’s multiculturalism as well as of the dramatic episode in the history of the January Uprising that was the Battle of Siemiatycze.

History

The cemetery complex came into being in the years 1805-1806. From the very beginning, it was intended to serve the needs of all of the town’s residents, including Catholics of both rites - the Roman Catholics and the Greek Catholics - as well as the members of the Evangelical community. The cemetery was divided into two sections - the Catholic section, where members of the Roman Catholic and Uniate communities were buried - and the Evangelical section. In 1827, a wooden chapel of St Anne was erected in the Catholic cemetery; being a funerary chapel, however, it actually served all of the local residents, regardless of their confession or rite. In the mid-19th century, a brick cemetery chapel designed in the Classicist style was erected in the Evangelical section of the cemetery, serving the needs of the Protestant community. In 1829, a report was prepared during an inspection visit of the Catholic cemetery in which it was stated that the burial ground was located half a verst from the church (the verst being a Russian measurement unit equivalent to 1.0668 kilometres) and surrounded by a perimeter wall. After the Union of Brest was abolished and after the local Evangelical community has dwindled substantially, the corresponding parts of the cemetery were taken over by the Orthodox community. During the January Uprising, some of the insurgents have set up camp in the burial ground during the famous Battle of Siemiatycze. A fragment of the wall which served them as cover during the artillery barrage has been preserved; in addition, there is also a mass grave where many of these fighters have been buried.

Description

The ecumenical cemetery in Siemiatycze, serving the needs of Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians alike, is located in the northern part of the city, with the Romana Rogińskiego, Powstania Styczniowego and Ciechanowiecka streets forming its southern, western and eastern boundaries respectively. The total surface of the cemetery is approximately 3.5 hectares. The cemetery is surrounded with a stone wall, with brick and stone entrance gates located in its southern and western sections. The oldest part of the cemetery can be found north of Romana Rogińskiego street; it is there that the wooden chapel of St Anne, erected in 1827, is situated. North of the chapel, positioned in the Catholic part of the burial ground, lies the Evangelical chapel - a brick structure designed in the Classicist style, erected in the mid-19th century - which stands in the section of the cemetery allocated to the Protestant and Orthodox communities. The oldest surviving headstones date back to the 1st half of the 19th century; these are as follows: 1. the grave of Franciszek Krassowski (died 1831) - a cast iron cross with a figure of an angel attached where the openwork arms intersect, 2. the grave of Antonina Zalewska née Borysewicz (died 1849) - a cast iron headstone with a broken, fluted column positioned atop a plinth, adorned with a rose wreath and topped with an ornamental urn, 3. the grave of Andrzej Sienkiewicz (died 1853) - a masonry pillar with a pyramid roof and featuring an inscription plaque adorned with the Leliwa coat of arms. In the south-western section of the cemetery, alongside the main walking path, there is a mass grave of the insurgents of the January Uprising who were killed during the armed clashes which took place in and around the town of Siemiatycze in February 1863. The mass grave is framed with a metal foundation with four posts, its surface covered with gravel. In the middle stands a brick monument in the form of a shrine topped with a wrought iron cross. The monument was erected by the local residents in 1986.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Tomasz Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 15-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed M., Warsaw 1996, p. 71.
  • Katalog miejsc pamięci powstania styczniowego w województwie podlaskim, I. Górska (ed.), Białystok 2013, pp. 60-61.

General information

  • Type: cemetery
  • Chronology: XIX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Siemiatycze
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Siemiatycze (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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