the Importance of the local monastery in 2019 expressed great Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus Metropolitan Filaret: “the map of every Christian country is a special place that embodies the spirituality of the national history, the times, the inviolability of tradition, unity and continuity of generations in Christ. In Ukraine, this Shrine is the assumption Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, in Russia – a Lavra of St. Sergius, and we have White Russia – Uspensky Zhirovichi monastery. Our spiritual rock, the walls of which cease all the troubles of this world. Our beacon of faith, the light of which the Belarusians have been going on for five centuries. “On Belarus God long live”, – wrote Vladimir Karatkevich. The mother of God lives in Zhirovichi. This is known to every pilgrim who is travelling here. Here Her destiny”1. Among the numerous Orthodox pilgrims, flock to these Holy places, every year you can meet hundreds of Russians.
the Church tradition says that by 2020, in Zhirovichi (or in the same writing Gerovitch) have two important anniversaries: 500 years of Holy Dormition Stavropegial monastery and 550 years finding miracle-working Zhirovichi icon of Mother of God.
Past the Holy places of the ancient, glorious and tough, and they are amazingly beautiful. Zhirovichi located near founded in 1252 the city of Slonim, next flows into the Neman river Shchara. Here is what grew here the author came to the two anniversaries-depth books, the mother superior of Grodno Holy Nativity of the Theotokos women’s monastery of the abbess (Gabriel Glukhova): “For the unique beauty of nature, many called the land of “Slonim Switzerland”, and visiting at least once…, enthusiastically kept in his heart the image of this God blessed land”2.
I Began the glory of Zhirovichi with a small size of 5.6 cm by 4.4, the miraculous icon of the virgin, who became famous in the XV century. “Slonim Switzerland” was at that time the estate of Alexander Soltan, the son of mayor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania3. According to modern researchers, the icon was painted in 1471 by order of Soltan in Volodymyr-Volynskyi4. Who died in 1494 or 1495 Soltan built here the first wooden Church. According to legend, when in 1520, the Zhirovichi was almost completely destroyed by a fierce fire, a small oval plate of Jasper with the effigy of the virgin Mary and the Christ child was revealed to the children on the stone. The icon appeared intact, only blackened from fire.
the Relic is still preserved in the monastery, the existence of which in Zhirovichi in the sixteenth century was confirmed by a number of well-known historians5. The miracle-working Orthodox icons glorified these places and gave them great fame of “the capital of the virgin.” Zhirovichi, we read in the already mentioned u��ilanas book 2019, “steel for Lithuania and White Russia that he had been in Czestochowa for Poland”6.
passed through the Holy places and the war years. The invasion of the Swedes in the great Northern war resulted in the monastery not only by the imposition of a considerable contribution, but the epidemic of plague, known at that time under the name “pestilence”. By 1710, the monastery has only one monk Nicholas (Okunevich), who had the sad fate to bury approximately 600 victims of pervasive infection.
But after the great upheaval of Zhirovichi have not only recovered, but strengthened his reputation primarily as a prominent center for literacy. The monastery was engaged in copying books over time and its modest typography. The real treasure was the library of the monastery, which kept these ancient masterpieces, as one of the main lists Izbornik Svyatoslav 1073 as of 1810, in Zhirovichi book Depository was described 2686 titles of printed books in 3867 volumes, 192 of the book “handwritten with choirs”, 345 “manuscripts of different types”, 93 “miscellaneous prints”7. Part of that heritage is now kept in St. Petersburg in the Library of the Academy of Sciences.
In 1795 Zhirovichi on the third partition of Poland became part of the Russian Empire. Not far off was a new perspective of the development of the Holy places that have opened since then, as under Nicholas I, the power subject is thinking about the abolition of the Brest Church Union in the Western provinces. 7 Oct 1828 Imperial decree opened a Seminary. Its rector, Bishop Anthony (Zubko) and often visited the monastery, Bishop Joseph (Semashko) became active supporters of the transition to the Orthodox faith. Anthony wrote that the Zhirovichi “was an oasis in the so-called Lithuanian provinces. We have developed and matured an independent Outlook on life, on Russia and Poland, Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and the Unia”8.
After 12 February 1839 at Polotsk’s Cathedral was proclaimed the reunification of the Uniate Western provinces with Orthodox monastery in Zhirovichi became one of the centrepieces of the celebrations on this occasion.
the Modern view of the monastic buildings acquired by 1867, when the energetic Abbot, Archimandrite Nicholas (Reducto) managed to attract donations sufficient to build the local Cathedral of the assumption, to break the wonderful fruit garden, to make a beautiful Park with alleys, to arrange of natural terraces. Zhirovichi continued to maintain your fame significant for the whole Orthodox monastery. In 1914 his bets in Baranavichy here specially came to pray to the miraculous icon of the Supreme commander of the Russian army Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich.
the Hard times of the twentieth century, which had two world wars, not once tried will��to revive the greatness of the Shrine in Zhirovichi. But even after the German occupation in the First world chopped down for fuel wood, the iconostasis of St. Nicholas Church and the Polish authorities, who owned these places in the interwar years, in 1924, arranged in part of the premises of the monastery school, where trained specialists for agriculture and forestry business, the abode of aliens to obey did not. The miraculous icon, which was evacuated in 1915, Archimandrite Tikhon (Sharapov) secretly moved through the Soviet-Polish border in a jar from under the jam, and since then she always kept in the monastery.
In the interwar years the monastery in Zhirovichi became the most important center of Orthodox Christianity, actively resisted many attempts of the Polish administration to impose Catholic rules here. Did not break the spirit of believers, even such violent actions like the arrest and expulsion of Archimandrite Tikhon in October 1924 When in 1938 the persecution of the Orthodox faith in Poland reached the highest point, authorities are faced with a real mass resistance: on the feast of the apparition of may 20 in Zhirovichi gathered more than 15 thousand pilgrims. Miraculous icon in 1938 for the first time in its history went beyond the monastery on a special cart, she was arranged a solemn and crowded ceremony in the towns and villages of Western Belarus.
Resist the Zhirovichi in the atheistic Soviet years, not only staying for many years the only existing in the BSSR monasteries and became in 1947 the seat of the Minsk theological Seminary, which in these walls exists to this day. Even in the most severe years of the Khrushchev persecution of the Church, the monastery remained a stronghold of the Orthodox faith. Here found shelter the few dozen nuns after closing in 1960 convents in Grodno and Polotsk. In spite of all prohibitions, including the prohibition of bell-ringing in the festive day on may 20, came thousands of people.
the Present revival “Belarusian monastery” began in the 1990s, when significant support was to assist the Belarusian government. The monastery complex they only made the list of historical and cultural heritage of the Republic of Belarus, but also gave to the monks of Zhirovichi 300 hectares of arable land and 300 acres of hay9. On the land, where in the XV century, was located the estate of Soltanov, now the zoo “Eden”. Large celebrations on the occasion of two anniversaries had to be postponed, but already on 1 June 2020 Zhirovichi re-opened its doors to the pilgrims.
1. Joyful intercession of White Russia. The history of the Zhirovichi assumption monastery in written sources, traditions and contemporaries. Zhirovichi, 2019. P. 6.
2. Ibid. C. 13.
3. Lazarev D. I. the Early history of the Zhirovichi monastery in written sourcesKam // Vestnik of Belarusian Zaria naked norstat. Ser. 3. N 1. 1996. Pp. 6-9.
4. Joyful intercession of White Russia. P. 10.
5. Cm. example: Zhukovich P. N. Unreleased Russian legend of the Zhirovichi icon of mother of God (in connection with the history of the Russian noble family Soltanov Zhirovichi). SPb., 1912.
6. Joyful intercession of White Russia. P. 24.
7. The Orthodox encyclopedia. T. XIX. M., 2008. P. 263-273.
8. Anthony (Zubko), Archbishop. Of the Greek Uniate Church in the Western region of Russia // Collection of articles published by SV. The Synod on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of reunification with the Orthodox Church of the Western Russian Uniates. SPb., 1889. P. 43.
9. Joyful intercession of White Russia. P. 102.