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Diocese of Przemysl, Sambor, and Sanok

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A Græco-Ruthenian Uniat diocese of Western Galicia, Austria. It is really the Diocese of Przemysl (Ruthenian, Peremyshl) of the Greek Rite, since the See of Sambor represents only a former contest between the Catholic and the Orthodox about the time of the union of the churches, and there never was at any time a Bishopric of Sanok. Przemysl is a fortified town situated on the River San, in the Crownland of Galicia, about fifty-four miles west of Lemberg. Its population in 1900 was 46,350, and it contains the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and the diocesan seminary of the Ruthenian Greek Catholics. Sambor is a manufacturing town situated about ten miles away upon the River Dniester; it had in 1900 some 17,350 inhabitants. Sanok is a still smaller town, situated on the River San about twenty-five miles southwest of Przemysl, and has about 5000 inhabitants. The original cathedral church of Przemysl was a church connected with the great castle, but this was given to the Latins by King Wladislaw in 1412. The Ruthenians then took the present Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist for their cathedral. The cathedral church of Sambor, dedicated to the Transfiguration, is situated near the town of Old Sambor. All this part of the country was the Kingdom of Poland, and on its partition the Diocese of Przemysl fell to Austria. The present Greek Catholic diocese is divided into 40 deaneries, containing 688 organized parishes, 1334 churches and chapels, 6 monasteries of Basilian monks, and 2 convents of Greek nuns. The clergy consists of 803 secular priests, as follows: 662 married, 129 widowers, and 12 celibates, together with 36 monastic priests. The Greek Catholic population of this diocese is 1,198,398.

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The Diocese of Przemysl stretched over a large part of Red Russia, covering some 900 square miles, west of the Archdiocese of Lemberg. It is perhaps the oldest of the Ruthenian dioceses, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius are said to have preached Christianity there. It is certain that this part of south-west Russia received Christianity nearly one hundred years before the conversion of King Vladimir at Kieff. The names of its early missionary bishops are lost, but from 1218 the succession is unbroken. Antonius (1218-25) is the first bishop whose name is recorded. He was a monk and Bishop of Novgorod, but was banished from there and then became Bishop of Przemysl, succeeding a former bishop who had just died. King Danilo at this time was in union with the Holy See, and for over one hundred years the Greek bishops of Przemysl were likewise united with Rome. Hilarion (1254), Abraham (1271), Jeremias (1282), Memnon (1288), Hilarion (1292), George (1315), Mark (1330), Cyril (1353), Hilarion (1366), Basil (1385), Athanasius (1392), and Gelasius (1412) ruled this see during its peace with Rome. In 1416 the Bishop of Przemysl embraced the schism. Elias (1422) was the first bishop who took the title Przemysl and Sambor. The See of Sambor was founded in the thirteenth century, and shortly afterwards the two dioceses were united, although the double name was not used until assumed by Elias. Athanasius (1440-49) opposed the union of the Council of Florence. The succeeding bishops of Przemysl adhered to the schism, and remained schismatic for over a century.

In 1594 Bishop Michael Kopystynski (1591-1610) took up the idea of reunion with Rome and added his name to the declaration of union at the Synod of Brest. Later he withdrew it and was excommunicated by the Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Kieff, Michael Ragosa. His successor, Athanasius Krupetzki (1610-52), was a zealous Catholic bishop. Meanwhile the schismatics elected another bishop and drove out Athanasius ; and for nearly a century there was a double line of Greek bishops, the Orthodox holding the see at Przemysl, and the Catholics holding it at Sambor. In 1668 the Orthodox coadjutor bishop, George Hoshovski, took up his residence at Sanok, and from that date the title of Bishop of Przemysl, Sambor, and Sanok was assumed, although no see was established at Sanok. The succeeding Catholic bishops were Procopius Chmelovski (1652), Anthony Terletzki (1662), and John Malachovski (1669). The next Orthodox bishop was Innocent Vinnitzki (1680-1700), and during his administration the Catholic Bishop Malachovski left his see and went to Warsaw, where he died in 1691. From the time of his consecration Bishop Innocent had announced his intention of uniting with the Holy See. He prepared his clergy for the union, and on 23 June, 1691, he renounced the schism and signed the act of union. Since then the Greek Diocese of Przemysl has always been Catholic. In 1694 the first Catholic diocesan synod of the Greek Rite was held at Sambor, where the new situation of the Greek Catholic clergy was canonically established. The bishops succeeding him were George Vinnitzki (1700-13), Jerome Ustritzki (1715-46), Onuphrius Shumlanski (1746-62), Athanasius Szepticki (1762-79), Maximilian Ryllo (1780-94), and Anton Angelovich (1795-1808). The see remained vacant from 1808 until 1813, during the Napoleonic wars, but was administered by the Metropolitan of Lemberg, the well-known historian of the Greek Uniats, Michael Harasievich, The succeeding bishops were Michael Levitzki (1813-16), John Snigurski (1818-47), Gregor Jachimovich (1848-59), Thomas Polanski (1860-69), John Stupnitzki (1872-90), and Julian Pelesz (1891-96), the renowned author of the "History of the Union of the Ruthenian Church with Rome". The present bishop (1911) is Constantine Chekhovich.

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