Posted: 29.07.2022 12:24:00

My heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth

Saint Kirill protects his native Turov even as the centuries went by

10 years ago, the Cathedral of Saints Kirill and Lavrentiy of Turov appeared in the heart of Turov. Even the layout of the shrine is simply awe-inspiring. Imagine how people are overwhelmed with feelings when they cross its threshold and find out how many miracles are associated with the name of the wisest bishop, under whose heavenly protection the spiritual Turov flourishes to this day.

The Cathedral of Saints Kirill and Lavrentiy of Turov

Faithful people

Archbishop Stefan of Gomel and Zhlobin
This small woodland town is called the second Jerusalem. According to legend, Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga converted the Turovites to Orthodoxy 30 years before her grandson Prince Vladimir officially christianised Kievan Rus. Turov became a powerful spiritual centre by the 12th century, during the lifetime of Kirill. In terms of area, the city was commensurate with the current Brest, however, 76 Orthodox churches and four monasteries were located on its territory. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
The ancestors of Saint Kirill came to the Turov lands together with the Byzantine princess Barbara, the third wife of Prince Sviatopolk Izyaslavich. The parents of the future bishop were high confessors, often visited Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. Kirill studied a huge number of prayers, and the Kyiv Bishop Theodosius of the Caves was his spiritual patron. Later, a student from Turov will dedicate one of the written prayers to him.
Senior researcher at the Turov Local Studies Museum Oleg Verenich says, “Lack of land, drought, famine, a huge number of poor people — looking at all this, Kirill decided to live in humility, pray for his native land and for small children. He spent eight years in the Borisoglebsky Monastery in seclusion and wrote more than 30 works, for which he was known as the righteous Chrysostom. Already after his resignation from the chair of the Bishop of Turov in 1182, he wrote the Great Week — a mighty prayer for all days of the week, which today is read in all churches and parishes not only in Belarus, but also in neighbouring countries.”

It was a sign!

Archbishop Stefan of Gomel and Zhlobin, who stood at the origins of the modern cathedral in Turov, believes that there are only few such enlightened saints in the Orthodox world like Kirill in terms of their knowledge and faith, “This case is unique and virtually unbelievable — people themselves elected a monk as a bishop. This suggests that the future Saint Kirill was an example of the holiness of life in the eyes of fellow countrymen. He loved his city, his flock, he loved the Borisoglebsky Monastery where he lived. And for the modern Christian, he remains the image of the enlightener, the image of the good shepherd, about whom Christ speaks in the Gospel.” 
Saint Kirill of Turov is venerated every year on May 11th. His figure returned from oblivion and shone in the spiritual sky of Belarus thanks to the efforts of the late Metropolitan Filaret, believes Archbishop Stefan, “When I was in charge of the Turov cathedra, Metropolitan Filaret said in one of his conversations that if I built a stone church in Turov, it would be a gift for him. I turned to history and found information that Saint Mitrofan Krasnopolsky, being the Bishop of Minsk and Turov, raised funds for the construction of the cathedral at the beginning of the 20th century. But... the First World War began, and the funds went to the treatment of wounded soldiers.”
And then Archbishop Stefan received a sign. One day the archbishop drew attention to an icon in the monastery house while visiting the Yurovichi Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God: there are two saints on it, a carved robe smeared with floor paint. Stefan took the image, and a year and a half later the restorer said that it was the image of Saints Kirill and the subsequent Bishop Lavrentiy of Turov. “I was so convinced that they came to help that I said that we were building a cathedral in honour of two saints,” Archbishop Stefan says. 
Metropolitan Filaret consecrated the Cathedral of Saints Kirill and Lavrentiy of Turov in 2013.

All roads lead to the temple

“I know every brick in the temple. Today, all roads lead to the temple — it welcomes visitors from the east, north, west and south sides. However, initially, its construction in the very centre of the city did not fit into the plans of the secular authorities. Only by a miracle of God and the protection of Bishop Stephen and Metropolitan Filaret did everything succeed. They met with the President and asked to allocate the city centre for construction,” says sacrtist Vasily Pytel, Archpriest of the Cathedral of Saints Kirill and Lavrentiy of Turov, who participated in the construction.
A year ago Aleksandr Lukashenko donated the cross to the Cathedral of Saints Kirill and Lavrentiy of Turov.
Vasily Pytel explains while demonstrating the relic, “This is a reliquary. It contains the tree of the life-giving Cross of the Lord from Jerusalem, a particle of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, a particle of the relics of the Saint Barbara and a particle of the relics of the Andrew the Apostle. Unfortunately, photographs, sketches of what the patronal cross of Saint Kirill of Turov was like, have not been preserved. The Cross of Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk was taken as a basis in the manufacture.”

Believe in a miracle

In Turov, miracles were not only seen, but also recorded. Local guide Valery Kotlyarchuk leads another group of tourists to the Borisoglebskoye Cemetery, which is known for its unique stone crosses — raising and emerging from the ground, and advises visitors, “If your relatives are not with you, attach your pectoral cross to the stone cross. At home, touch your loved ones with your cross.”
The guide personally witnessed how a woman in a wheelchair, who came from Ukraine with her daughter, left the cemetery (this is the territory of the Borisoglebsky Monastery where Kirill lived) on her thin legs after worshiping a stone cross. Valery also told about the case when two blind girls recovered their sight here, “The guide who brought the sisters said that she knew their diagnosis and nothing would help them. Two months later she returned and said: ‘Valera, there is a God! I will bring the girls on May 11th on the day of memory of Saint Kirill, and we will record a miracle. And there are many such miracles. At first, I wrote them down in a notebook, and then I stopped — let God have all this listed.”

According to legend, there were no illegitimate children in Turov during the bishopric of Kirill. And to this day today they pray to the saint as a family intercessor. The greatest legacy that we inherited from him is piety, says Valery Kotlyarchuk, “If only we lived piously towards each other — foremost in the family, because the family is a small church, we would basically live better. Turov’s intercessor was concerned about honest, decent relations. He says in every prayer: man, worry about your sins, and not about the sins of your neighbour.”
Local residents believe that the confessor still protects his native city. In the 20th century, Saint Kirill of Turov was undeservedly forgotten, and the city almost paid for it. A little more — and it would have turned into a godforsaken village. But when on May 11th they began to honour the bishop every year, when they rebuilt the temple in honour of Saints Kirill and his fellow creature, life returned to the city. Tourists, pilgrims flocked here in a string, a dairy factory was opened, a cannery is working. Life goes on, both spiritual and earthly. 

By Natalia Ostapchuk