Julia Kulba, left, with her sister during restoration work at the church in Adamovichi, Belarus. Photo courtesy of Julia Kulba and Hrodna.life.
A tattoo artist has restored the Stations of the Cross at a church in Belarus at the invitation of the local pastor.
Julia Kulba — known in the tattoo business as Pipetka — applied her skills to the 14 bas-relief Stations of Cross at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Adamovichi, a village in the northwestern Grodno Region.
Catholic.by, the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus, reported that Fr. Alexander Shemet also asked Kulba to restore an image of Christ the Good Shepherd.
Kulba, a highly regarded tattoo artist with more than 15 years of experience, had never restored a religious artwork before Shemet approached her in early 2021. She worked with her sister, who is also a trained artist.
The church was built in 1854. A former prisoner of a Soviet camp began to restore the Stations 60 years ago but was forced to abandon the work due to ill health.
The ex-prisoner worked under the guidance of the then pastor, Fr. Kazimir Orlowski. He was ordained a priest in 1939, serving as a chaplain to the Polish resistance movement in World War II. In 1950, he was arrested for anti-Soviet propaganda and sentenced to death. His sentence was ultimately commuted to 25 years in a penal camp.
After serving part of his sentence, Orlowski returned to the church and oversaw its restoration.
Belarus is a landlocked country bordering Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Catholics are the second-largest religious community after Orthodox Christians, comprising roughly 15% of the 9.5 million population.
Hrodna.life reported that Kulba and her sister worked inside the church for a week during daylight hours.
She told the publication that the restoration would be “for the good not only of the church but also of the people who come here.”