Zhirovichi Monastery marks 500th anniversary

Zhirovichi is celebrating 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, BelTA reports.

The celebration will be low-key. An all-night vigil on 19 May will be followed by a Divine Liturgy for the parish in the morning. All the services will be held in accordance with safety rules and with observance of social distancing.

“This is a big and important holiday. We are celebrating it with great joy. It is important for us, brethren, teachers and students, to make sure that the monastery remains a place of spiritual peace for all who come here. We want everyone to be able to shed the burden of sins and mistakes and to regain spiritual and even physical strength here. Thus, when people go home or go to work, they will be able to fulfill their duties properly and thus make a contribution to the prosperity of the Fatherland,” Superior of the Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery in Zhirovichi, Archbishop of Novogrudok and Slonim Gury said.

According to him, the state has been helping the monastery for many years, including with renovation, repairs and restoration of the facilities of the complex. For example, the buildings of the seminary were repaired; guest rooms and a canteen were built on the premises of the complex.

Another big event was the installation of a monument to Serafim of Zhirovichi. The two-meter bronze sculpture on a granite pedestal has been installed at the entrance to the monastery. “This is one of our founders who accomplished an amazing feat. During the war, he together with his ascetic traveled around the country, helping people to return to faith. They baptized, wedded, read the last rites, helped people to restore temples,” Archbishop Gury said. Later on Serafim of Zhirovichi was arrested and martyred.

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.

Archbishop Gury noted that large-scale celebrations with the participation of a large number of guests and pilgrims were planned for the festive dates. However, they were postponed amid the epidemiological situation. The date of the celebrations will be announced in due course.

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.