Catholics require the authorities to give back the church and Bernardine monastery
The leadership of the Catholic church in Belarus addressed the Belarusian authorities, requiring that they recover to them the Minsk Church of Saint Joseph and the Bernardine monastery. Now, the building of the church now houses the Archive of the Scientific and Technical Documentation, and also the Archive of Literature and Art of Belarus. The building of the former monastery is occupied by the military commandant’s office. The believers started saying prayers for recovery of the Catholic sacred places.
Priest Antoni Klimantovich of the Virgin Mary Cathedral informed the believers of the church’s initiative at the Sunday service. The same information was disseminated in other Minsk parishes. However, the official representative of the Catholic Church refused to disclose any particularities of their attempted recovery of the building.
In the interview with Liberty, the Deputy Head of the Committee for Archives and Documentation Aliaxei Zabalotny commented on the situation in the following way:
(Zabalotny: ) “True, there is a desire to get back that building, but so far no decision has been taken to this effect. Obviously, such a decision cannot be taken by anyone, because we cannot get evicted into the street, we have nowhere to go. We have been in this building for long. Until we have a place to move, we surely won’t give it up”.
According to Mr. Zabalotny, earlier there was a perspective that a separate building would be erected, where they could work. But because they have no money now, there is no hope that this can happen.
It was also believed that the Archives would move to the present premises of the National Library after it moves to a new location. But, so far there has been neither decision, nor money to do the repairs. In the best case, this can only happen in about five years.
The military commandant’s office is not in a hurry to leave the monastery premises, either. The believers started saying prayers for recovery of the Catholic sacred places today. Older people were joined by the younger ones. Among them were Aliaxandr Panchanka and Zosia Holub. Below is what they said in an interview with our Radio:
(Panchanka: ) “Young people also care: they want the sacred people to be recovered by the authorities to the believers. Prayers would particularly support this cause”.
(Holub: ) “I place my trust with God, he can do anything. However, I get the impression that the authorities are going to do all they not to give it back. Because it is felt throughout the country - schools and universities, newspapers, radio and television – that the Orthodox Church should be the dominant denomination here”.
Outside the former church of Saint Joseph, and the Bernardine monastery now occupied by the Archives and the military, parishioners of different Minsk churches are praying. They say that these prayers will be conducted daily.
According to historic sources, the church and the monastery of the Bernardine order were founded in Minsk in the 15th century. They were part of the monastery complex, which, at various times, used to house a primary school, a philosophy school, and a library of 1500 volumes of unique literature.
In 1863 the Bernardine monks supported the rebellion led by Kastus Kalinouski. After it was subdued, Muraviov the Hangman (the then governor of Belarus) ordered their forced eviction to Mahilou, following which the monastery was closed. The church housed an Orthodox Church for some time. Since 1872 it has been converted into an archive, which functions has been preserved to date.