Wooden churches to be saved

US and Slovak organisations have recently agreed to support a plan for preserving three Greek Catholic wooden churches from the 17th and 18th centuries located in eastern Slovakia's municipalities of Bodružaľ, Lukov-Veneica, and Topoľa.

The World Monuments Fund (WMF), the foremost private, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic art and architecture worldwide, has added these three churches into its World Monuments Watch list, 100 Most Endangered Sites for 2004.

According to the WMF, the Greek Catholic Church of eastern Slovakia has always battled for its survival.

Orthodox in tradition, yet aligned with the Pope, the Church has faced persecution and even dissolution while maintaining a unique cultural and religious tradition for its followers.

These traditions are reflected in the architecture of their houses of worship, which exhibit a fusion of Byzantine and Western architectural styles.

The three churches - the churches of St Nicholas, St Cosmos and Damian, and St Michael the Archangel - constructed of timber between the mid-17th and early 18th centuries, represent some of the most highly developed examples of this unique sacral architecture.

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