The history


The history of the Orthodox community of Lodz and Lodz region dates back to the reign of the Polish king Boleslaw the Brave ( 967-1025). His daughter (history has not preserved her name) married the Kievan prince Svyatopolk (980-1019) who in 1019 was forced to leave his country having failed to ascend the throne. Svyatopolk decided to leave for his father-in – law's country. The prince died on his way to Poland but his companions managed to arrive at Poland and presented themselves to the Polish king who allowed them to settle on the territory of the present-day town of Lutomiersk situated merely 18 km from Lodz. In all probability such a decision could be attributed to the fact that this place was situated in the centre of the country, on the old trade route from Kiev to Poznan. Some of the newly-arrived men turned out to be founders of towns and villages: a certain man called Lasko founded the town of Lask. The name of the village Kudrowice is derived from a certain Kudra. People from Kievan Rus'as well as and their children and grandchildren quickly underwent assimilation.

It was only in the middle of the XVII century that the second group of Orthodox inhabitants arrived at Lodz region. Greek and Serbian merchants who ran away from the Turkish yoke settled down in Piotrków Trybunalski and founded a parish there. In Lodz the first Orthodox inhabitants appeared in the middle of the XIX century but their number was small – only 3 people in 1857. In 1863, during the January uprising, there arrived a substantial group of Orthodox followers - 37 Ekaterinburg Infantry Regiment accompanied by a priest Jan Nikolski. . After the January uprising had been suppressed the Polish Kingdom was integrated with the Russian Empire and autonomous institutions underwent liquidation. Polish i.e. catholic bureaucrats, teachers or policemen were replaced with their Orthodox counterparts. Russian became the official language.
During the first years of their stay in Lodz Orthodox believers used services of the military priest Jan Nikolski or went to All Saints church in Piotrków Trybunalski. But there few of them and their number increased very slowly: in 1872 there were only 39 permanent Orthodox residents, 73 in 1875, and 135 – in 1881. Despite this fact the authorities started necessary procedures to build the orthodox church in Lodz because it was a rapidly developing city and a centre of the textile industry.
But Orthodox community was small and most of its members were not well – off so it was not easy to finance such an enterprise. The whole process was facilitated by a subsequent assassination attempt on the life of the Emperor Alexander II which happened on 2 April 1879. The monarch was miraculously saved so the most prominent citizens of Lodz , for example factory owners Karl Scheibler, Izrael Poznanski, Luliusz Kunitzer decided to commemorate this event by building orthodox church of St. Alexander Nevskiy. The Committee began its work on 6 April 1879, the city architecht Hilary Majewski designed the building, the foundation stone was laid on 8 May 1880. Alexander Nevskiy church was consecrated on 29 May 1884. 86, 3 % of the whole enterprises was financed by private sponsors ( it is worth noting that none of them was Orthodox). Emperor Alexander III presented gilded church utensils.

The new St. Alexander Nevskiy parish was a part of Chełm and Warsaw diocese; the members of the parish were inhabitants of the of Łask and Łódź district as well as those of the towns of Łask, Zgierz and Pabianice. Orthodox community consisted not only of Russian speaking members but also of Czechs, Greeks, Serbians, Greeks or Germans. In 1896 in Lodz there appeared military St. Alexey church in Ekaterinburg (presently Jerzego ) Str., but it did not belong to St. Alexander Nevskiy parish.

The number of orthodox believers was gradually increasing ( 3 150 people in 1902 excluding military men) , and the parish started educational and charity work. In 1893 there opened parish school attended also by Lutheran and catholic children. In 1898, after St. Olga church had been consecrated, there appeared orphanage for orphans, half-orphans or for the children of poor parents who were unable to support their families. Wards of the orphanage were from 9 to 15 years old, they attended parish school; the most talented students had a chance to continue their education. In 1909 the parish opened kindergarten for children under 8 who stayed in the institution during daytime and took part in educational activities.

After the break - up of the First World War military men left for battlefields, and bureaucrats evacuated to Russia hence the number of Orthodox inhabitants decreased. Despite this fact parish institutions functioned normally and provided help to those in need: parishioners received financial help and children had meals on the premises of the parish.

When Poland gained independence in 1918 military St. Alexey Church was given to the Catholics because of the fact that legal situation of not regulated. But the two remaining churches remained in the hands of the Orthodox. Following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia many Orthodox inhabitants returned to Łódź, there also arrived emigrants who did not accept the new regime. Though the number of Orthodox believers decreased ( 3 000 people in 1927) church was still the centre of spiritual life for many parishioners who lost their Motherland. The orphanage functioned as before and those in need received proper help.

During World War II Orthodox priests saved lives of the Jews issuing baptism certificates though in reality those people did not convert to Orthodoxy. When in January of 1945 Łódź had been liberated by the Red Army Soviet security forces arrested and took to the Soviet Union 2 000 people, representatives of so-called “white” emigration or those who lived here before WWI. They were perceived as hostile bourgeois elements. Only 13 of them returned home after Stalin`s death. In all probability the others died in GULAG.

In 1951 St. Alexander Nevskiy church was elevated to the status of the cathedral of Łódź and Poznań diocese. Since then it has been the seat of the Archbishop of Lódź and Poznań. This function was performed by :

  • Archbishop Jerzy (Korenistow ) - 1951 – 1979
  • Bishop Sawa (Hrycuniak) – 1979-1981 ( presently the Archbishop of Warsaw and Metropolitan of All Poland)
  • Archbishop Szymon (Romańczuk) – 1981-presently