The Lemko Regionalso called Lemkovyna (Rusyn), Lemkivshchyna (Ukrainian), Lemkovshchina (Russian) and Lemkowszczyzna (Polish)is a mostly contiguous area of about 226 miles long and 40 to 80 miles wide in the mountain valleys and foothills between the Dunajec River (to the west) and the San River (to the east.)
- The western-most part of the Lemko Region extends into Nowy Targ county, where there is an island of four Lemko villages: Czarna Woda/Chorna Voda, Biala Woda/Bila Voda, Szlachtowa/Shljachtova and Jaworki/Javirky.
- In the northern part of Lemkovyna (Krosno county) there is another island of Lemko villages, including Krasna, Weglowka/Vanivka, Bonarowka/Bonarivka, Oparowka/Oparivka, Rzepnik/Ripnyk, and Gwozdzianka/Hvozdjanka.
- Other villages of early Lemko cultural importance were Grab/Hrab, Vilchovec, Tylawa/Tylova, and Polany/Poljany (in Jaslo county)and Bortne, Hanchova, Konieczna/Konechna, and Zdynia/Zhdynja (in Gorlice county), and Krynica, Kamianna and Florynka (Nowy Sącz county.)
- The southern border of the Lemko Region coincides with the Polish state border, but the eastern border is problematic.
Lemkovyna is marked by the gently rolling hills of the Lower Beskyd (Bieszczady) range in the east and, in the west, by the higher, more rugged Upper Beskyd range of the Carpathian Mountains (with peaks as high as 3,000- 4,000 feet).
Lemkovyna had, at one time, been part of the former Austrian Empire of Galicia. Today, this area is in southeast Poland referred to as "Mała Polska."
At the time our grandparents lived here, Lemkovyna was divided into territorial districts named for their administrative centers: Nowy Targ, Nowy Sacz, Grybow, Gorlice, Jaslo, Krosno, Sanok and Lesko. Today, the area is divided into two provincesKrosno and Nowy Sacz.
The Lemko People
For a millenium, the Lemko people lived peacefully in small villages Lemkovyna. They were a gentle, poverty-stricken peoplebut happy in their own way. They came from the east in search of grazing land for their sheep and oxen. But by the 19th century, shepherding was no longer profitable. So the Lemkos took up farming and lumbering.
At that time, Krynica was the Lemko capital in Poland, and . Lemko grazing lands and farms covered the gentle hills of the Poprad valley and northern slopes of the Carpathians.
The Byzantine Catholic (Uniate) Church was never officially liquidated in Poland as it was in neighboring Czechoslovakia and Soviet Ukraine. This church was illegal in Poland from 1947 until 1957; and most of its properties were given to the Roman Catholic Church or abandoned.
In 1957, after the Ukrainians and Lemkos who were deported during Akcja Visla were permitted to return to Poland, the Byzantine Catholic Church began to revive itself. However, the government made it very difficult for the church to operate, and any activity was permitted only under the auspices of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
As of 1956, 164 Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox wooden churches in Poland (both Lemko and Bojko) had been destroyed101 of which had been designated "monuments of architecture."