Pilgrims prepare for trip

In early July, Belarus celebrates the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the miraculous icon of the Mother of God in Budslav
By Galina Litovtseva

The Head of the Minsk-Mogilev archdiocese, Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, has told journalists that preparations for the spiritual celebration began three years ago. The state is providing significant assistance for Belarusian Catholics, as does the Minsk Regional Executive Committee, and the National Bank has prepared a commemorative coin for the Budslav celebrations. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communications and Informatisation is issuing a souvenir sheet called ‘400th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Miraculous Icon of the Mother of God in Budslav.’

Collectors will be interested to know that, on July 6th, a jubilee stamp is being issued immediately after holy mass in Budslav, conducted by the papal legate, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran: the event is the first of its kind. Cardinal Tauran is very influential in the Catholic world, heading the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The prelude to the celebrations in Budslav will be a pilgrimage of believers to the shrine, organised from all over the country. Archbishop Kondrusiewicz explains, “Pilgrims are already getting ready for the journey.” Several thousand, including those from Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Italy are joining the event. Typically, up to 30,000 people take part in the annual festival in Budslav but, this year, 45,000 or more are likely.

Tatiana Khmel, of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee, tells us that a special committee headed by the Chairman of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee, Boris Batura, is overseeing organisation. Funds have been allocated for landscaping around the church and for its renovation, with special stations of drinking water arranged along the pilgrimage route, as well as luggage lockers, militia and doctors.

Each pilgrim will be given a copy of the image of the Mother of God of Budslav. “The upcoming celebration will help us to reflect on the Christian soul of the Belarusian people,” emphasises Metropolitan Kondrusiewicz. “Our beautiful Belarus will become even more beautiful in this way.” His feeling is supported by the Prior of Budslav Catholic Church, Father Victor Burlaka, who notes, “The image of the Mother of God in Budslav has accepted prayers for 400 years; it has seen our ancestors’ tears, their joy, their hope and their faith.”
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