The Dominican Monastery of Mary Modernari at Podkamen

Translated from Polish  by Anna Kotowski August, 1999

Podkamen population 3037 counted pravi Roman Catholic Church and Dominican Monastery.

In 1727 the coronation of Mary Modernari (Matki Boskiej) took place. As is custom the whole church was decorated in carvings and inscriptions. Also to assist with the celebration military flags were brought in as well as 56 cannons. During this celebration 20 speeches, theological and philosophical were given, 4169 masses were said, 107880 communions were distributed. 28000 lamps and candles were burned. 

The Podkamen church was finally shaped in 3rd quarter of the 18th century. 

The beautiful helmet placed in the church steeple was designed by an architect named Pawel Gizycki (Pavel Gizisky). Wall paintings and the altar were done by Szymon Czechowicz (Shimon Chechovich).

The church inside and outside was full of rich and dynamically detailed art. 

All carvings were typical of the art school in Lvov, and most likely belonged to Franciszek Oledzki.

Finally in 1745 the Dominican monastery was completed by Stanislaw Mikoszewski.

At the same time, step by step, a gigantic monastery was being built, and the whole structure was strengthened with massive supports designed by military engineer Christina Dahlke.

In the last few years before the first partition of Poland, this region, Podkaminya, demonstrated the strongest dedication to the religious faith. After the first partition of Poland, Dominicans remained in Podkaminya, however the monastery lost substantial amounts of silver, as well as cannons which were part of the structural supports. Also a statue of Modernari (Matki Boskiej) was removed and the chapel was converted to Unitsky Synagogue (Cerkiew Unicka).

The 19th century was a time of stabilization. During WW I this church sustained major damage from Austrian artillery. The roof of the church along with the whole collection of art and the library went up in flames.

In 1916, again another fire damaged the steeple with the beautiful helmet.

Next the Russian army occupied the monastery and began partial demolition. In the time between the wars the renovations began, however not all damage was successfully repaired.

In 1927 the coronation of Modernari was repeated. Shortly afterward the Dominicans were forced by the Russians to completely evacuate the Monastery which was converted to a factory producing shoes and clothing. Polish citizens in this town were faced with massive arrests, and forced deportations.

The next invader, Germany under Hitler, directed the brutality against the Jewish population of Podkaminya. In 1943 there was no trace of Jewish people, whereas before they consisted of a high percentage of the population.

In 1943 many Polish refuges came to the region of Podkaminya due to the terroristic ways of the U.P.A.

When the situation here became dangerous, about 2000 Poles sought shelter with the Dominicans.

On March 12, 1944 the U.P.A unsuccessfully attacked the cloister, However it ended tragically when the German army going through Podkamen requested evacuation due to bombing. Hundreds of refugees became disoriented as they fled the monastery and became easy targets for bandits. Fighting and resistance lasted a few days resulting in over 300 fatalities.

Once the Red army returned to this region on March 18, 1944 the situation stabilized. However there was no hope for this Dominican monastery to be saved on the Rosary field (Gorze Rozancowej). Soviet forces used the unoccupied dwellings of the Dominican monastery for their own, converting it to a psychiatric hospital for women.


The new Ukraine government formally dedicated the Dominican monastery to the Monks, however structural damage was so great that no effort was wasted in rebuilding it. Robbed of its beauty, it was used as a storage facility, and it started collapsing. As of this time the damage is too great to begin saving this historical landmark.