Belarusian Orthodox Church

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Belarusian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk.jpg
Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk, March 2013
Founder Saint Andrew; Vladimir the Great
Independence 1989
Recognition 1989 by Russian Orthodox Church
Primate Pavel, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus
Headquarters Minsk
Territory Republic of Belarus
Language Church Slavonic, Belarusian
Members 150,000

Belarusian Orthodox Church (Belarusian: Беларуская праваслаўная царква) (Russian: Белорусская Православная Церковь) is the official name of the Belarusian Exarchate (Belarusian: Беларускі Экзархат Маскоўскага Патрыярхату, Russian: Белорусский экзархат) of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus.[1] It represents the union of Russian orthodox eparchies on the territory of Belarus and is the largest religious organization in the country, uniting the predominant majority of its Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The leader of the Belarusian Orthodox Church is Pavel, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk.

The church enjoys a much smaller degree of autonomy compared to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is a semi-autonomous entity associated with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Belarusian Orthodox Church strongly opposes the minor and largely emigration-based Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.


The spread of Christianity in the western Russian lands of ancient Russia began long before her baptism in 998. The origins of this phenomenon in the apostolic gospel of St. Andrew.[2]

In the land of Belarus, the principality of Polotsk adopted Eastern Christianity was through direct contacts with the Byzantine Empire and the Scandinavian countries. But the decisive factor in its adoption was the baptism of Prince Vladimir of Kiev and in 988. Then Christianity took higher nobility of Polotsk, the approximate Prince Izjaslava (son of St. Vladimir Equal to the Apostles), delivered to reign in Polotsk in 992.[3]

In half of the 12th century, the greatest calamity has befallen Russia: the invasion of the Mongol hordes of Batu began three centuries of "Tatar yoke."

Kiev metropolitan department to the 14th century it was common for the Orthodox Eastern and Western Russia. Under the influence of a single political circumstances in Russia in the 15th century, the church was divided into two metropolitans, each of which considered itself vospreemnitsey ancient Kievan department.

In 1316 or 1317 the Patriarchate of Constantinople established the independent Lithuanian diocese. However, already in 1328, the Moscow Metropolitan of All Russia Patriarch of Constantinople Feognost requested not to appoint the Lithuanian ruling bishop of the archdiocese particular, for the Lord, together with the Moscow Grand Prince Ivan Kalita Russia sought to unite under a single and unified episcopal stole the prince's power.

During this period, in 1347, three of the court of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas - Anthony and John Eustace - was martyred by his order for the confession of the Orthodox faith. In many ways, this event demonstrates the complex relationship between the Orthodox people and the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For the ruling elite of faith and belonging to Orthodoxy remained a long argument and political circumstances in the struggle for power and spheres of influence.[4]

In 1364 the Metropolitan of Moscow, Alexy found throughout the Russian Church celebration of the holy martyrs of Vilna, whose incorrupt relics of the Lord has blessed.

After the death of Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia Theognostus in 1353, the Grand Duke Algirdas in a year has made the opening of the Lithuanian metropolis. The Patriarch of Constantinople took this step to prevent possible unrest and civil war between the Lithuanian and Grand Prince of Moscow.

Orthodox-Catholic schism[edit]

In 1382, the son of Algirdas Jagiello took the throne of the Polish kings, married a Polish princess. The Pope blessed the marriage, provided that Jagiello accept Roman Catholicism and lead his people under the authority of the Vatican. Jagiello was not slow to accept this condition and, under the agreement with Poland, declared the Roman Catholic religion, the state and the Orthodox Church deprived the protection of the country.[5]

From here that the Way of the Cross of the people of Belarus, which for many centuries and to this day remains the spiritual, ecclesiastical and political boundary between the Holy Orthodox Rus' and the Polish avant-garde of the Vatican in its ongoing quest to the east.

In 1591, at a secret gathering of four bishops have decided to gradually prepare the accession to the Orthodox dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church. Without the knowledge of either the clergy or congregation, they appealed to the king for assistance in traveling to Rome for approval by the union. December 23, 1595 in the great hall of the papal castle took place a solemn meeting of the Sacred College, during which the two Uniate swore on his own behalf and on behalf of the other bishops of the western Russian accession to the eternal Orthodox Church in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland to the Church of Rome.

Soviet period[edit]

After the Soviet occupation of Western Belarus, September 1, 1939 followed by a new dramatic changes in the Orthodox church structure.

Occupied Belarus in 1941, German troops caught a picture of almost complete destruction of the Orthodox Church. Priests and monks were not, the churches were destroyed or closed in the capital Minsk of the nine surviving operated only one St. Alexander Nevsky church in the old military cemetery. However, believers have a great many! Wanting to get sympathy of the population, the occupation authorities did not prevent the revival of church life.

After the defeat of Nazi Germany at the Church of the Belarusian land has continued to grow, despite the difficulties, perpetrated by the Soviet authorities. However, during the 60 - 70s at the time of large-scale anti-religious campaign of the few remaining churches and Renaissance began to close and destroy. The number of arrivals has decreased to 360. Minsk Theological Academy as well as monasteries in Polotsk and Grodno were closed.[6]

Modern times[edit]

One of the most important steps of the church building in Belarus before the establishment of the Exarchate was renewed in 1989, the Minsk Theological Seminary. Theological School in Zhirovitsky walls of the ancient monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God, blessed arrived at a celebration of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius IV.

Due to the vast experience of learning activities and extensive inter-church contacts Metropolitan Filaret, the first year of seminary is taught and taught courses not only leading Belarusian scholars, but also highly regarded in the Christian world, the bishops and professors, scientists and researchers from Moscow Theological Academy and Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, representatives of the other Churches of the scientific world.[7]

Development of a system of spiritual education has led to the creation of the Faculty of Theology at the European Humanities University in Minsk. After five years of training graduates receive state diplomas specialty "theologian Theology teacher" and work mainly in secular schools.

The Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, held on 9 - 11 October 1989, adopted a definition of the formation of the Belarusian Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate, approving the former decision of the Holy Synod on the formation of Mogilev, Pinsk Polotsk and dioceses.

October 16, 1989 the Holy Synod, pursuant to the definitions of the Bishops' Council, decided that Exarch of Belarus continue to have the title of "Metropolitan of Minsk and Grodno, Patriarchal Exarch of Belarus", Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Belarus, to appoint Exarch of Belarus.

Resolution of the Holy Synod of the Belarusian Exarchate of 6 February 1992 (Journal №15), approved by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church from 18-19 February 1992 (Journal №13), the Minsk diocese reorganized and geographically limited area of Minsk.

On the eve of the entry into the third millennium after Christ Byelorussian Exarchate again hosted distinguished guest: from 24 to 27 September 1998 the Primate of the Mother Church made an apostolic journey through central and eastern Belarusian dioceses. The main event of the visit was a celebration in honor of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the ancient Polotsk-Euphrosyne. Here, during the service, performed the rite Patriarch Krestovozdvizheniya, sanctify the earth, and all the Belarusian Church Cross of St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk, recreated in the image and likeness of ancient, made in 1161 by order of Princess-Abbess. This event has become central not only in the days of the Patriarch's visit, but in the entire ten-year history of the Belarusian Exarchate.[8]

On January 7, 2008, during a visit to the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has called the Belarusian Orthodox Church, "the chief ideologist of the country".


The structure of the Belarusian Orthodox Church consists of 11 eparchies:

External links[edit]