MINSK, 21 November (BelTA) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will take part in the events to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the miraculous Zhirovichi Icon of the Mother of God and the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Holy Assumption Men's Monastery. These shrines are considered the national cultural heritage of Belarus, spiritual symbols of the people, Aleksandr Slesarev, vice chancellor for scientific work of the Minsk Theological Academy and Seminary, told a press conference in Minsk, BelTA has learned.
“2020 will be a jubilee year for the Belarusian Exarchate. The main celebrations will be held on 20 May on the grounds of the monastery. We are looking forward to the visit of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Holy Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,” Aleksandr Slesarev said.
This year the monastery expects a record high number of pilgrims and is taking measures to receive all who come. The Minsk Theological Seminary, which is located on the ground of the monastery, will invite visitors to the church-archaeological museum. One of the exhibition halls is dedicated to the history of the monastery and the miraculous icon, which all these years remains a source of comfort and healing for believers, Aleksandr Slesarev said.
A series of events will be held in various eparchies throughout the year. oblast capitals and other cities will host scientific conferences, exhibitions, film festivals, roundtables, literary readings, and festivals. We will also arrange excursions for tourists. TV and radio networks will make a series of programs dedicated to the history of Orthodoxy, the role of Christianity in the spiritual life of society, and provide media coverage of the upcoming event.
“We are planning a two-day international conference together with the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,” Alexander Slesarev added.
“In November 2020, we will hold a seminar for students of higher education institutions of Belarus in the Minsk Theological Seminary in Zhirovichi. This is our annual forum, the theme of which will also be devoted to the anniversary dates this year. Plans are in place to publish the books dedicated to the Zhirovichi Icon and monastery, educational content and scientific books. We are working on a special issue of the Church-Historical Almanac Chronos that will feature the studies on this subject by modern contemporary Belarusian historians. The almanac is published by the Department of Church History and Church-Practical Disciplines at the Minsk Theological Academy.
Resident of the Holy Assumption Men's Monastery, a teacher of the Minsk Theological Academy Priest-Monk Yevstafy Khalimankov noted that the icon itself will remain in the monastery where it has been kept for about 500 years. “We do not transport it because of the fragile state. It was damaged in a fire in the early 16th century. Restoration is difficult to perform as jasper is a fragile material. Most importantly is that we do not want to disturb the joy of meeting with the icon in the monastery. We usually use the copy that was produced in 1996 at big events,” Priest-Monk Yevstafy Khalimankov said.
The Zhirovichi icon is known not only as a wonderworking icon but also as a unique piece of art, a historical and cultural phenomenon. It is respected both by Orthodox and Catholic believers. The icon is closely connected with the history of the Holy Assumption Monastery which is one of the largest architectural ensembles of the 17th - 18th centuries in Belarus. The monastery has never closed, and thus maintained the continuity of traditions for the five centuries.More about Society