In the Ukranian hamlet of Hodovytsya, cute brick houses line the main road, which links small family farms and miles upon miles of lush green fields. A short walk here will reveal more picturesque gems that hint at the area’s turbulent past.
Before World War II, this part of Ukraine was within Poland’s eastern borders, and the community here used to be a mix of Polish and Ukrainian. The Poles were generally Roman Catholic and the Ukrainians mostly Greek Catholic (Eastern-Rite Catholics who practice Orthodox ritual but recognize the authority of the Pope). Given the similarities between the two denominations though, some churches in the region were reportedly attended by both Polish Catholics and Greek Catholic Ukrainians, who would often go to mass together.
All of this has changed during the war and then shortly afterward, when national borders were redrawn and people were forcibly displaced from many regions across central Europe. All these messy and tragic relocations left behind traces of the disbanded communities in their former homes, mostly in the form of cemeteries, old houses, monuments, and places of worship.
Hodovytsya is no exception. The ruins of the All Saints Catholic stand quietly by the side of a placid lake, making for an impressive sight. The old church is an example of late Baroque architecture and features some heavily damaged frescoes dating back to the 18th century.
Sadly, the church was all but destroyed by a fire in the 1970s. The entire roof is gone, but both its interior and exterior are still ornate. There are virtually no Catholics left in the area, so the church has never been restored, but it is open to the public for half an hour each week.
While in the village, be sure to check out the graveyard as well. The cemetery here is half-Ukrainian and half-Polish. The Polish part features some beautiful gravestones and sculptures, but it remains largely abandoned since the Polish community left in the 1940s. The cemetery is kept periodically maintained, but as the Polish part is not frequented, most of the graves are overgrown. Someone has recently tied white-and-red ribbons to the Polish graves (the colors of Poland’s national flag), so that they can be more easily identified. There are some beautiful sculptures here, mostly of angels, although many of them have suffered weather damage.