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The churches of Minsk

Calvary Church, Minsk

The churches of Minsk

Belarus found itself on the boundary of the influence of two Christian churches - Catholic and Orthodox. In the days, when Belarus belonged to the Great Lithuanian Princedom and to the Polish Kingdom, the Catholic creed was principal, therefore many Catholic churches were erected, both in Minsk, and in the whole of Belarus. During the Soviet times the majority of them came to desolation, the best of them were used by the Soviet Regime. From the beginning of 90th old churches are returned to the believers.

The Calvary

The only Catholic Church serving in the Soviet times was the church on the old Calvary cemetery. Certainly, the church couldn’t seat all believers; on holidays, crowds of Catholics gathered on the main avenue of the cemetery, leading to the church. Meanwhile the temple on this place appeared in 17th century. Then it was made of wood and was called « Exaltation of the Cross ». The matter is that Catholics of Belarus, Poland and Latgalija (the part of the old Latvia) had a custom to erect The Calvary churches on picturesque places, (The Calvary – from the Latin "calva" - a skull, in Greek, a place, where the Christ was crucified.).

At the beginning of 19th century The Calvary church was reconstructed of wild quarry-stone, in the Neo-Gothic style. The cemetery which arose around the church, gave last shelter to the most well-known townspeople of Minsk, both Catholics, and people professing other religions. In 1967 it was closed for new burials. But at the end of 90th the city authorities allowed to use it for burials on a commercial basis. Here also the victims of a tragical incident at the underground entrance Nemiga on May, 30, 1999 are buried.

The Red church

The Neo-Gothic church of red brick, which is situated on the principal square of Minsk, is one of the symbols of the capital. During the Soviet times the Union of cinematographers of Belarus was placed here. Fortunately, cinematographers` attitude to the building was careful and after the returning of the church to the believers, it has got its original form very quickly.

It was constructed right at the beginning of 20th century, with the support of the nobleman Edward Vojnilovich, and was named, under his insisting, in honour of Holy Simeon and Elena, in memory of his children, died at early age. The author of the project was the architect from Warsaw T.Pojazdersky. The church was consecrated in 1910.

After the returning of the Red Church in 1990 it became one of the most popular among citizens of Minsk. It is situated in the downtown, has a spacious hall, and, in spite of strict architecture, has graceful ornaments. Stained-glass windows are made according to belarusian national art traditions. The main portal is decorated with the family arms of Vojnilovich.

The Church of Holy Roh

The church is situated on the Zolotaja Gorka (Gold Hill); it also went through many difficulties and has many legends. They say, it was built, when a certain Polish doctor, after the epidemic of cholera in the city, suggested the townspeople to collect money and construct a new temple directly on the territory of a Catholic cemetery. Here the wooden sculpture of Holy Roh was put. In Catholicism St. Roh is considered to be the defender of people and animals from infectious illnesses, the patron of surgeons. The present brick cathedral was built in the 60s of 19th century. Its last reconstruction was in the years of the decline of the Soviet Regime; the temple was supposed to be used as a chamber hall of the Philharmonic society and here an organ made by the Czech masters was put. The state inserted a lot of money in the restoration of the building; therefore after the return of the temple to believers, it was solved, by mutual consent, to use it both as a concert hall, and as a temple. Here the service goes only in belarusian (in other churches – in belarusian and Polish).

The Archicathedral of The Virgin

The main Catholic temple of Belarus has undergone the greatest tests in its lifetime. It is situated on the Svoboda square. During the Soviet time the church was radically, barbarously reorganized. Bell-towers were demolished, a façade was brought the level with adjoining state houses, the House of physical culture was placed inside, and the main hall of the temple became a sports hall. However after the return of the church to the believers, that innovations were removed, the temple accepted its original form. The restored church became one of the architectural dominants of the restored historical center of Minsk - the so-called Top city. It is situated near an Orthodox Cathedral. It is one more symbol of the toleration, gained a foothold in Belarus from time immemorial.



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