Chrám

The Orthodox church of St Cyril and St Methodius and the Přerov Orthodox parish (English version)

   The Orthodox church of St Cyril and St Methodius is situated on the southern edge of the Urban Conservation Area of Přerov. The structure of the former Přerov synagogue stands on the site of the original synagogue, probably 16th century, which was destroyed by fire in 1832, rebuilt in 1860 and then again destroyed by fire in 1868. The present building is the product of reconstruction in the Art Nouveau style, to the plans of Jakob Gartner, a native of Přerov with Jewish origins who practised as an architect in Vienna. This took place around 1898: the appearance of the building today is practically unchanged.

   First reports of the presence of Jews in Přerov come from the middle of the 14th century, but reliable evidence dates from up to 100 years later. More evidence of Jews in Přerov comes from the 16th century, when under the lords of Pernštejn the town's trade flourished. Because the Jews were under the protection of powerful local aristocracies (the Pernštejn and Žerotín families), they did not create a ghetto but lived in dispersion in so-called “Jewish Street”, which was a long narrow square, with a Jewish school and hospital on the eastern and a synagogue on the north-western side.  Despite every measure taken by the state to limit the growth in the numbers of Jewish inhabitants in the land, the number of Jews in Přerov increased. From the middle of the 19th century to the end of the 1930s came a period of migration of Jewish inhabitants, mostly of the younger generation to the large industrial towns. In Přerov itself there was a continuing loss of Jewish population from the 1890s onward. In World War II the majority of the members of the Jewish community were forced into concentration camps, where almost all perished. But the synagogue remained protected from destruction and after the war was used as a warehouse. In 1951 the synagogue was bought from the Jewish religious community of Olomouc by the Orthodox parish of Přerov.

   The Přerov Orthodox parish was established in 1924 after the breakaway of a group of Orthodox sympathisers from the Czechoslovak Church of that time. After this change about 300 believers came over to Orthodoxy. The first permanent priest was Václav Čikl. In 1931, after unsuccessful attempts to set up a church building of their own, the parish acquired a chapel in mock Gothic style on lease from the German Evangelical church in Olomouc, which was then dedicated to St Václav and altered to meet the basic requirements of the liturgy. Father Čikl, who moved to Prague at the end of the 1930s, was executed in 1942 together with Bishop Gorazd, Father Vladimír Petřek and Jan Sonnevend for sheltering the parachutists who attempted the assassination of the German Reichsprotektor Heydrich. The Orthodox church was dissolved on the 27th September 1942 and many Orthodox finished up in concentration camps or gas chambers. After the end of World War II the life of the Orthodox church began to be renewed. At the beginning of the 1950s because of the widening of the railway line the existing Orthodox church building was scheduled to be demolished. So the parish decided to buy the synagogue for its services and to convert it for the needs and services of the Orthodox church. The building had been used as a warehouse since the war and was in a very bad condition. Its restoration went on until November 1953 and finally four days before Christmas the new church was consecrated and dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius, evangelisers of the Slavs. In the 1960s the church was scheduled to be demolished for an extension of the district heating network and so no further renovation works went on. Gradually the building was hidden by insensitive surrounding development. All this contributed to its poor state.

   1996 saw the beginning of co-operation between the Orthodox parish and the Přerov Town Hall to rescue the dilapidated fabric. A year later the church was designated as a cultural monument. Thanks to financial contributions from the Přerov Town Hall (Municipal Council) and the Ministry of Culture it was possible by the middle of July 1999 to complete the repair of the church interior. Outside building works finished two years later, when repair of the facade and roof covering and timbers were completed. Two memorial tablets were placed on the restored church to Jewish and Orthodox victims of World War II. During the following year work continued on the improvement of the surroundings of the church. The consecration of the church on 15th September 2002 brought to a close the six-year period of reconstruction.




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