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Seat of a Latin, a Uniat Ruthenian, and a Uniat Armenian archbishopric. The city is called Lwow in Polish, Leopol in latinized Polish, Löwenburg in German, Lwihohrod in Ruthenian. It was founded in 1259 by the Ruthenian King Daniel for his son Leo, Prince of Halicz, and took its name from that prince. Destroyed by the Tatars in 1261, it was rebuilt in 1270 on the same spot by Prince Leo, as is recorded by the inscription on one of its gates: "Dux Leo mihi fundamenta jecit, posteri nomen dedere Leontopolis" (Duke Leo laid my foundations, posterity gave me the name of Leontopolis). In 1340 Casimir the Great, King of Poland, took possession of it, built two new castles, attracted German colonists to it, and gave it a charter modelled on that of Magdeburg. In 1372 Louis of Hungary entrusted the administration of the city to Wladislaw, Prince of Oppeln; in 1387 it was given as dowry to the Princess Hedwig, by whose marriage with Jagellon it became a possession of the Polish Crown. Lemberg was thenceforward the recognized capital of the Russian territories dependent on Poland (i.e. Red Russia), which preserved their autonomy undiminished until 1433. The city was one of the great entrepôts of European commerce with the East, which, after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, followed for the most part the overland route. Lemberg was besieged many times — by the Lithuanians in 1350, the Wallachians in 1498, the Turks in 1524 and 1672, and the Cossacks in 1648 and 1655. Charles XII of Sweden took and plundered it in 1704. By the first partition of Poland it was assigned to Austria in 1772; finally, in 1848, it revolted and was bombarded.

Lemberg is situated in a deep and narrow valley on the Pelter, a tributary of the Bug; the capital of the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, it contains — including its many and populous suburbs — about 160,000 inhabitants, of whom 45,000 are Jews. Of the convents which, in the seventeenth century, gained for it the name of "City of Monks", some still exist. Emperor Joseph II reduced the number of its churches from seventy-two to about twenty; some of them are very noteworthy — e.g. the Latin cathedral, built in the Gothic style in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; the Ruthenian Catholic cathedral, built in 1740-9 in the neo-Italian style; the church of the Bernardines, with the tomb of St. John of Dukla, Patron of Lemberg; the Dominican, the Jesuit, the Wallachian, and other churches. The national Ossolinski Institute possesses a library of the highest value for the study of Polish literature and local history, containing more than 100,000 volumes and 4000 manuscripts. The university, founded in 1660 by Casimir of Poland, suffered especially from the withdrawal of the Jesuits and the political changes which culminated in Galicia becoming an Austrian province. It was restored in 1784, though with curtailed privileges and a much restricted staff, by Joseph II, who desired to keep the Polish youth from going to Vilna or Warsaw. Reduced in 1807 to the rank of a lyceum, the university was once more established with some measure of its former autonomy in 1816. It now numbers about 200 professors and tutors, with 1900 students, 300 of whom attend the faculty of Catholic theology. The city also possesses a large number of educational establishments for boys and girls, besides many benevolent institutions.

Latin archbishopric

The Latin Bishopric of Halicz, in which that of Lemberg originated, appears to have been established no earlier than the year 1361. On 8 April, 1363, Urban V wrote to the Bishop of Gnesen to insist that King Casimir III of Poland should build a cathedral in the city of Lemberg, which he had recently taken from the Russian schismatics. Nevertheless, letters of Gregory XI, dated 13 February, 1375, mention only the metropolitan See of Halicz, and the Bishoprics of Przemysl, Chelm, and Vladimir, sufficient evidence that that of Lemberg was not yet established. On 3 March, 1375, the question is raised of transferring the See of Halicz to Lemberg, a transfer which was effected only in December, 1414, by John XXIII. In 1501 Bishop Andreas Rosza was given the administration of Przemysl, but was transferred in 1503 to the See of Gnesen; his successor, Bernardine Wilczek (1503-40), rebuilt the cathedral, which had been destroyed by fire. Many of the subsequent bishops were famous; such were Stanislaus Grochovski (1634-45), a writer of religious poetry, and Nicholas Poplavski (1709-11), an ecclesiastical writer. A great many synods were held here from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Upon the opening of the Estates (or Diet) of Galicia, 13 February, 1817, Archbishop Skarbel Ankvicz obtained the title of Primate of the Kingdoms of Galicia and Lodomeria, which title has been accorded since 1849 to the Ruthenian Catholic metropolitan. The Latin archdiocese has two suffragan bishoprics: Przemysl and Tarnov. It numbers 920,000 faithful, 36,000 Protestants, and 550,000 Jews. There are 249 parishes, 579 secular and 290 regular priestsDominicans, Franciscans, Capuchins, Jesuits, Carmelites, etc. There are also a great many religious women engaged in teaching and works of mercy. The seminary numbers 60 students.

Ruthenian Catholic archbishopric

After the conversion of the Ruthenians in this region to Christianity, the Bishopric of Halicz, suffragan to Kiev, was established for their benefit between 1152 and 1180. Halicz had been made a metropolitan see in 1345 by John Calecas, Patriarch of Constantinople, but in 1347 it was again placed under the jurisdiction of Kiev, at the request of the Grand Duke Simeon of Moscow. Its metropolitan rank was restored to Halicz only after the Polish occupation of the province about 1371; it had four suffragans: Kulm, Przemysl, Turof, and Vladimir. In 1414 King Ladislaus, for some unknown reason, transferred the Latin See of Halicz to Leopol, and suppressed the Ruthenian metropolitan See of Halicz. The see was subsequently administered by vicars of the Metropolitan of Kiev until 28 October, 1539, when it was restored as a simple bishopric. Macarius Tuczapsti, the titular, next year changed his residence to Lemberg and took the combined titles of Halicz and Lemberg, which his successors have borne, adding those of Kamenets and Podolia, when their jurisdiction extended so far. With the establishment of the Jesuits in this county began the reform of the extremely ignorant schismatic clergy, who gradually turned towards Rome. In 1597 the Bishop of Lemberg, the celebrated Gideon Balaban, brought his diocese back to Catholicism, but afterwards, through his ambition, he relapsed into schism, and with him nearly all his subjects. A council held at Lemberg in October, 1629, laboured in vain for the conversion of the diocese, and it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that Bishop Joseph Czumlanski embraced the cause of union, secretly at first in 1677, and then openly in 1700. After Joseph came Barlaam Czeptyski (1710-5) and Athanasius Czeptyski (1715-46), who, being promoted to the metropolitan See of Kiev, retained that of Lemberg with it. This example was followed by Leo Louis Czeptyski (1749-79), when he became metropolitan in 1762.

Under Peter Bielanski (1779-98) the Diocese of Lemberg, to which were united those of Halicz and Kamenets, fortunately became the possession of Austria, whose government took in hand the education of the clergy, who were poor and so ignorant as hardly to know their own rite. Maria Theresa had students sent to the seminary established at Vienna for the Hungarian Uniats. Joseph II turned the Dominican convent into a seminary for Ruthenians, adding to it the church and the garden, and soon the Ruthenian students had places reserved for them in the theological faculty of the city. On 22 February, 1807, Pius VII, by the Bull "In universalis ecclesiæ regimine", withdrew Lemberg from the metropolitan jurisdiction of Kiev and made it a metropolitan see, with Kulm and Przemysl as suffragans. The Diocese of Kulm was dependent on Lemberg until 1837, when it was made immediately subject to the Holy See until its suppression by Russia. In its place another suffragan diocese, that of Stanislaov, was given to Lemberg in 1856. The Emperor of Austria obtained from Rome the right to nominate the metropolitan and his suffragans, while the metropolitan was authorized to confirm their nomination and to consecrate them, as had formerly been granted to the Metropolitan of Kiev by Clement VIII. The Habsburg monarchy has seriously taken up the task of developing education among the clergy, and of putting them upon the same footing as the Latin clergy by giving them the same political rights, and lastly of teaching the Ruthenian language in schools — a point as to which the Poles had previously cared little. Between the Poles and Ruthenians, indeed, there has always existed a certain hostility, which, during the nineteenth century, resulted in violent controversies, and eventually, in 1862, necessitated the intervention of the Holy See. In addition, the young Ruthenian clergy, with their exaggerated ideas of their rite and nationality, have accentuated their peculiarities and fostered the spirit of schism together with an excessive affection for Russia. Thus, they have shown an inclination to return to the primitive Græco-Slavic Rite, and to suppress the modifications which in former times had been — wrongly perhaps — introduced into the Liturgy, but which, in the minds of the people, have now become to a certain extent identified with Catholicism. Hence continual religious troubles have arisen, and indeed numerous defections. The reform of the Basilian monks inaugurated by Leo XIII has in part remedied these fatal tendencies, which, however, are still the chief danger threatening the Uniat Catholics of this archdiocese.

The Ruthenian archdiocese comprises the districts of Lemberg, Stryj, Brzezany, Zloczow, and Tarnopol, and numbers 1,400,000 faithful. There are 881 priests — 21 religious, 25 celibate seculars, 148 widowers, and 687 married. There is a chapter of 10 canons and a diocesan consistory of 23 members. The archdiocese is divided into 30 deaconeries and 752 parishes. There are 749 churches with, and 500 without, resident priests, and 36 chapels. The seminary, which counts 248 students, is intended also for the service of the other two Galician dioceses, Przemysl and Stanislaov; 108 of these students belong to the Archdiocese of Lemberg, while the other clerics are educated at Vienna and in the Ruthenian seminary at Rome. The Basilian monks have 3 houses with 23 religious; the Basilian nuns, 2 houses with 68 religious; the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary (founded in 1892), 6 houses with 39 religious.

Armenian Catholic archbishopric

As early as 1062 there were Armenians settled at Kiev, in consequence of the various invasions and persecutions of Tatars, Turks, and Greeks. Thence these exiles migrated to Lemberg, Kamenets, and Lutzk. The Catholic archdiocese was founded in 1365, upon the union of the titular, Gregory, with Rome; the cathedral was built two years later. From 1492 to 1516 the see remained vacant, after which it was occupied by schismatics until 24 October, 1630, when Nicholas Toroszewicz took the oath of fidelity to Urban VIII. Since then the succession of archbishops has been regular (Gams,("Series epis. Ecclesiæ cath.", 351; suppl., lxxxiii; Petit in Vacant, "Dict. de théol. cath.", I, 1916). In 1635 the Armenian Metropolitan of Lemberg obtained from Rome the two suffragan Bishoprics of Kamenets-Podolski and Mohileff, which had been taken from him when they passed under Russian domination. In 1808 his jurisdiction was restricted to the territory of Galicia and Bukovina. Even the Armenian Catholics of Transylvania, numbering 10,000, have been unable to obtain a bishop of their own rite or to become subject to the Armenian Archbishop of Lemberg, and they are obliged to submit to the authority of the Latin bishops. Until the nineteenth century the popes had the direct nomination to this archbishopric, and the kings of Poland only granted the exequatur. By a Brief of 20 September, 1819, Pius VII conceded to the new sovereign, the Emperor of Austria, the choice of an archbishop from three candidates presented by the Armenian clergy of Lemberg. The present archdiocese numbers 4000 faithful, 20 priests, 9 churches, 13 chapels, and 10 parishes. There is no seminary, the clergy being prepared in the Latin seminary. There are two houses for the education of poor orphans. Besides the Catholic, there are about 800 schismatic Armenians.


NEHER in Kirchenlex., s.v.; LEQUIEN, Oriens Christ., I., 1283; EUBEL, Hierarchia cath. medii ævi, I (Münster, 1898), 308; II, 194; GAMS, Series episcoporum Eccl. cath. (Ratisbon), 351; supplem., lxxxiii; Missiones catholicæ (Rome, 1907), 760, 790; HARASIEVICZ, Annales Ecclesiæ ruthenæ (Lemberg, 1862); MARKOVITCH, Gli Slavi ed i Papi, I (Agram), 166-73.

About this page

APA citation. Vailhé, S. (1910). Lemberg. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Vailhé, Siméon. "Lemberg." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Gerald Rossi.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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