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Archaeologists’ discovery in church

Two previously unknown sarcophaguses found at St. Yelisei’s Lavrishevo friary in Novogrudok District during archaeological investigations
The sarcophaguses are thought to have been used to bury persons of high importance to the monastery: those who left their mark on the country’s history. The findings are now being scrutinised, to learn more.

St. Yelisei’s friary

The archaeological expedition was clearing an underground vault within the monastery’s St. Assumption Church, in the village of Lavrishevo, at the request of its abbot Yevsevy. The work was being supervised by historian Telman Maslyukov, an assistant to the expedition leader, when two brick sarcophaguses with human remains and sacred objects were found.

The discovered materials are being examined at the Anthropology Department of the National Academy of Sciences’ History Institute and at the central laboratory of the Scientific and Production Centre for Geology.

The Lavrishevo church was built in the 18th century but researchers assume that the graves may date back to the more distant past. Vaišvilkas, son of Mindaugas (Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1264-1267) and reverend hegumen Elisseus founded the friary in the mid-13th century. The monastery was linked to the grand ducal residence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and was one of the most important spiritual centres of Belarus for several centuries. It reopened in 2007.

Archaeological research projects have been carried out in Lavrishevo for six years, under the supervision of Professor of History Sergey Rassadin, with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Pavel, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus. Meanwhile, students from various regions of the country volunteered to take part in the dig.

By Alexey Fedorov
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