Filial tserkva, currently serving as the parish tserkva of the Mother of God “The Joy of All Who Sorrow”, Tokary
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Filial tserkva, currently serving as the parish tserkva of the Mother of God “The Joy of All Who Sorrow”



The tserkva has a significant historical value related to the local Marian worship which first emerged in the mid-19th century and which stemmed from the traditional belief in the instances of miraculous healing and other miracles brought about by the Virgin Mary, worshipped in the form of the icon that was kept in this location. Even today, Tokary remains a popular destination for pilgrims from all around the country. The artistic value of the building stems from its complex silhouette and the lavish architectural detailing inspired by Russian architecture.


The Orthodox parish in Tokary was established in 1592. In 1852, while wandering about the Koterka marshes, Eufrozyna Iwaszczuk, a local resident, experienced a Marian apparition, with the Virgin Mary telling her to carry the words of prayer to God as a sign of atonement. The erstwhile parish priest had a cross put up on the site of the apparition. From that moment onwards, the pilgrims who came there are said to have experienced various acts of divine grace, including instances of miraculous healing. In 1912, the current tserkva was erected on the site of the miracle, with a small water spring located on the site of the former cross being revered for its miraculous qualities. After World War II came to an end, the village of Tokary found itself split into two by the new state border, with the parish tserkva being left on the Soviet side. In 1948, an Orthodox parish on the Polish side of the border was established, with the existing filial tserkva in Tokary-Koterka being elevated to parish church status. The renovation and conservation works were conducted at various times, including in 1996. Until this day, both the tserkva and the miraculous icon contained within remain a popular pilgrimage destination for the Orthodox community.


The Tokary tserkva is situated approximately 1.5 kilometres south of the centre of the village and 150 metres north of the provincial road no. 640 leading from Drohiczyn towards Vysokaje (formerly known as Wysokie Litewskie) in Belarus, about 500 metres west of the state border. The tserkva is oriented towards the east and follows a tripartite layout. The main body is designed on a square floor plan, with a lower, rectangular section containing the altarpiece positioned at its eastern end, its roof crowned by a bulbous cupola perched atop a polygonal tholobate. A rectangular vestibule adjoins the western side of the main body, topped with a quadrangular tower in its front section, crowned with a slender, pyramid-shaped roof with a bulbous cupola on top. The main body features a two-tier hip roof topped with an octagonal lantern above which rises another bulbous cupola. Both the front vestibule and the side porches are topped with gable roofs. The building is a wooden log structure positioned on stone foundations, its roofs clad with sheet metal. The walls of the tserkva are covered with weatherboards. The entrances positioned in the western, southern and northern façades are preceded with small open porches supported by pairs of lavishly profiled posts. Next to the tserkva lies the so-called “krynochka” (a well constructed above a water spring) designed as a hexagonal gazebo, its roof clad with sheet metal.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 05-11-2014.


  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed M., Warsaw 1996, p. 77.
  • Koziara E., Antopol- Tokary. Wskrzeszone wspomnienia, Radzyń Podlaski 2010, p. 135.
  • Sosna G., Święte miejsca i cudowne ikony, Białystok 2001, pp. 82-88.
  • Keczyński E. and A., Drewniane cerkwie Białostocczyzny, Białystok - Białowieża 1999, catalogue no. 79.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1912 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Tokary
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Mielnik
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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