SLONIM, 7 October (BelTA) – A commemorative stone was laid in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new bell tower in the Monastery in Zhirovichi on 7 October, BelTA has learned.
This year, Zhirovichi celebrates the anniversaries that are important for the entire Eastern Orthodox community – the 550th anniversary of the appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God and the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery.
To mark the occasion, a new memorial bell tower will be built in the monastery. The bell tower will be over 50m high. On 7 October, a commemorative stone was placed at the construction site. It was consecrated by Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Veniamin, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.
“The highest building in the monastery will be constructed here. The voice of the bell tower will carry far and, most importantly, invite people to pray, to honor the Creator and thank him,” Metropolitan Veniamin noted. He stressed that there is a lot of work ahead, as plans are in place to restore the Holy Dormition Church in the monastery.
“I am happy that we have managed to bring together scientists, the clergy, and experts and make this important decision. The monastery should develop, and the new bell tower will shape its future architectural image,” Belarus Culture Minister Yuri Bondar said as he took part in the event.
Bells for the bell tower have already been made. Under the guardianship of the Belarusian and Russian presidents, the project was implemented at a bell foundry in Russia's Voronezh. All twelve bells, the biggest of which weighs 4.2 tonnes, were placed in a temporary bell tower. They were also consecrated on 7 October.
“This year, we mark several important occasions, including the anniversary of the monastery and the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. These years have not been easy, many things have changed, but our nations have maintained their best traits. On the one hand, we are firm and ready to defend out land, on the other hand, we are compassionate and willing to lend a helping hand. This is our backbone that helps look to the future, make plans and go ahead with them,” Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik stressed.
Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev also took part in the celebrations. He noted that over its five-century history the monastery united people, gave faith, convinced everyone that the good is always rewarded. In honor of the holiday, Dmitry Mezentsev, Yuri Bondar and Vladimir Karanik were awarded the jubilee medal of the Zhirovichi Monastery.
Another big event was the installation of a monument to Serafim of Zhirovichi. The two-meter bronze sculpture on a granite pedestal installed at the entrance to the monastery honors Serafim of Zhirovichi, one of the local monks who accomplished an amazing feat. During the war, he traveled around the country, helping people to return to faith, rto estore churches. Later on Serafim of Zhirovichi was arrested and martyred. The monument was consecrated by Metropolitan Veniamin in a solemn ceremony today. A capsule with the soil from the place of death of Serafim of Zhirovichi was laid in the base of the monument.
Renovations works have been underway for several years. The buildings of the seminary were repaired; guest rooms and a canteen were built on the premises of the complex. The brethren's building, one of the oldest buildings of the monastery, has been revamped. These are the living quarters for teachers and seminary students, monks. The bell tower has been refurbished and the holy springs landscaped, including the oldest one, located under the altar of the temple.
The town of Zhirovichi has been spruced up ahead of the celebrations. The central square has been landscaped, major sites of the town tided up, roads, residential buildings and engineering networks have been rehabilitated.
The Zhirovichi Icon is known not only as a wonderworking icon but also as a unique piece of art, historical and cultural phenomenon. It is respected both by Orthodox and Catholic believers and is on the list of the 100 most valued Orthodox icons in the world. This is the smallest of the most respected icons of the Mother of God. The icon is an oval piece of jasper (5.6x4.4cm) with a relief image of the Mother of God holding the infant Jesus. It is closely connected with the history of the Holy Dormition Monastery. The monastery is one of the largest architectural ensembles of the 17th - 18th centuries in Belarus. It has never closed throughout its history and is a major attraction for tourists and pilgrims.
Photos by Leonid Shcheglov