MINSK, 7 January (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has lit a Christmas candle in a Minsk-based temple named after the sanctifier John of Shanghai and San Francisco, BelTA has learned.
Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Veniamin welcomed the head of state.
From the bottom of his heart Aleksandr Lukashenko congratulated Orthodox Christian parishioners, who had gathered in the temple, and people of other religions on Orthodox Christmas. “It is truly a light holiday. And Orthodoxy is just an occasion for all the lay people, all the citizens of Belarus with Orthodox and Catholic Christian [faith], for Muslims – for the entire world to celebrate this light holiday. But this day and this holiday are special for us, for Orthodox believers. This is why from the bottom of my heart I'd like to congratulate you on this holiday and wish the key thing – strong health,” the head of state said. “I wish you god's blessing and very strong health.” The president addressed special wishes to parents. He wished their kids to be a pride of the family and the country. “As I've already said, if a kid smiles, it means our society is healthy,” he remarked.
The head of state thanked Belarusian clergy for doing great spiritual and educational work, which is particularly important after 2020 when Belarusians came to understand a lot and in view of today's “complicated times when things are so troubled along the perimeter of our peaceful and calm Belarus.” “Our clergy do a great work as they raise genuine patriots of the Fatherland,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also thanked nuns of the Saint Elisabeth Convent and the head of the convent, all those, who live on the premises and do good deeds. “Thank you very much. You've started on a very large scale like no other temple complex has in order to make a contribution to the prosperity of our society. You are starting to promote spiritual education among small kids and among those, who are a bit bigger. You also organize large charity campaigns. Thank you very much! He [the god] sees it. It will be repaid in kind,” the president said.
In turn, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Veniamin called upon everyone to follow the example of Jesus Christ and show love and compassion.
In the temple Aleksandr Lukashenko was gifted a painting by Gleb Otchik “Farewell to an Orthodox man of faith of the Belarusian land”. The picture is dedicated to the first head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, hero of Belarus, Metropolitan Filaret, who died on 12 January 2021. The picture depicts the Holy Spirit Cathedral where Metropolitan Filaret worked, pigeons soar in the sky, and the image of the clergyman can be discerned.
In turn, the head of state gifted an icon titled as Holy Trinity. The icon was painted with acrylic paints while the background and the hatching are made of golden leaves.
The icon is a copy. The original icon was painted by Andrei Rublev in the 15th century and is one of his most famous works. The original icon has been kept in the Tretyakov Gallery since 1929.
Aleksandr Lukashenko did not leave the territory of the convent right after the Christmas service was over. He approached a large number of people, who had congregated outside the temple. The people warmly greeted the head of state. In response he wished them a Happy Christmas and said: “I wish you good mood! I wish you well, peace, and most importantly strong health! I wish to have this kind of frosty weather for a week. So that it would kill all the germs. I wish you success!”
The temple named after the sanctifier John of Shanghai and San Francisco is part of the Saint Elisabeth Convent complex. The temple was built using the old Russian wooden architecture style of the 17th century and the Canadian timber blocking technology.
The temple was built by a crew of artisans from Belarus. It was built at the crew's premises, transported to the convent, and put on a precast reinforced-concrete foundation. “Winter timber” was used to build the temple. It is high-quality pine wood from ancient Belarusian forests. Outdoor and indoor decorations were made by the convent's artisans. In the basement of the temple there are rooms for people going through hospital treatment and rehabilitation.
The convent was established in 1999 in honor of the holy and righteous martyr, Grand Princess Elisabeth. It is home to over 100 nuns now. There are five temples on the premises. The convent patronizes a nursing home for children with disabilities and special needs, psychoneurological nursing homes No.1 and No.3 for the elderly and people with disabilities, psychoneurological nursing home No.4, the national applied science center for psychiatric health, and a number of other medical institutions and social and pedagogical ones. The convent complex also includes two residential wings for nuns, a building for social rehabilitation workshops, workshops for artisans specializing in church art, a Sunday school building, and a residential wing for pilgrims.