Ukrainians Purchase Church in Senlis, France
On September 27, 2013, the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Volodymyr in Paris, led by Bishop Borys Gudziak, president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, purchased the church near St. Vincent Abbey in Senlis (45 km from Paris), which the Queen of France, Anna Yaroslavna, founded in 1060. Senlis is where the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise lived in the eleventh century. Starting in November, the church will function as a church of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), and will also house the Anna Yaroslavna Cultural Center, whose purpose is to represent and promote Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian-European cooperation.
The newly acquired church will open its doors on November 16. On this day at 10:00 a.m. a Hierarchical Liturgy will be celebrated. And on November 17 Ukrainians can take part in a memorial Hierarchical Liturgy in the Cathedral of Notre Dame to pray together for the victims of the Holodomor.
“Today is a great day for the Ukrainian community in Paris, France, in all of Europe, and for all Ukrainians, wherever they may be. We purchased the church in Senlis, the royal town in which lived Anna Yaroslavna, known to the world as Anne of Kyiv, Queen of France. With this ecclesiastical and legal act, we have shown that the sources of the Ukrainian Christian European tradition are alive and viable,” said Bishop Borys Gudziak.
He also said that the church will bear the name of the martyrs Borys and Hilb, Anna’s uncles. “Boris and Hlib represent virtue, which today we need the most – love and harmony among brothers, rejection of fratricidal strife. Anna represents high culture and Europeanism and Christian spirituality,” said the bishop of the Eparchy of Paris.
He said that the timing of the signing of the documents for the purchase of the church is very symbolic, because the progressive Ukrainian and world community hopes for rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union.
The church was bought for 203,000 euros using donations from Ukrainians from Ukraine, France, Britain, the United States, and Canada. According to preliminary estimates, 1.5 million U.S. dollars are needed for renovation, because the church has not served as a place of worship for nearly a century, as it was private owned. According to Bishop Borys Gudziak, renovation will begin next year. “The church is of hewn stone, in structurally very good condition. It also has large vaults with catacombs from Roman times. The building will be divided into two parts – a chapel and a cultural center. The aim of the cultural center is to represent Ukraine in the context of European history and culture. This is symbolic because Anna Yaroslavna was the first person from Ukraine to be recorded in European history,” said the bishop.
The project envisages that the church will hold a variety of exhibitions and cultural events. The Anna Yaroslavna Center will become for the French, French Ukrainians, and Ukrainians in Ukraine and in the diaspora a place in Europe that respects Ukrainian culture and develops Ukrainian-European cooperation.