Posted: 14.04.2022 16:03:00

With the protection of St. George the Victorious

A temple complex in memory of the people’s heroic deed during the Great Patriotic War will appear in Minsk. It is expected that it will become not only an ornament of the Chizhovka microdistrict, but also a centre of spiritual transformation.

The protection of the Soldier Patron

Lyudmila Pasynkova is the daughter of repressed parents, an orphanage, a young prisoner of a fascist concentration camp. She worked at the Minsk Motor Plant, when one day she was injured. The injury limited her, but she still tried to walk. And somehow, walking in Chizhovka, she thought: ‘There is everything there, but there is no church.’ The idea to build a temple inspired a Minsker so much that her energy was revived. Until recently, Lyudmila went with a money-box and collected money for the construction. At the community meeting, it was decided that a temple complex would be built on the banks of the water reservoir in memory of the people’s heroic deed during the Great Patriotic War. The church, which was built at the first stage, was dedicated to the Icon of the Mother of God of Minsk and the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazi occupation. The main church under construction was named after the Patron Saint of Military, Great Martyr George the Victorious.
According to the maps of the early 20th century, swamps were located in the area of modern Goloded Street. During the Soviet period, the Chizhovskoye water reservoir appeared. When houses were erected, sand was brought to the current construction site. A huge hill has grown with the view of the incomparable scenery. Here they decided to build a temple in honour of the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious. When one looks at the church under construction from below, it seems that it will be the highest church in Minsk. Such an illusion is created by the landscape and architecture of the temple complex. According to the project, in addition to two churches, it also includes a parish house, which will connect the churches into a single ensemble.

Deacon Mikhail Streha, cleric of St. George’s parish, says that 27 thousand cubic metres of soil were brought here in order to prepare the territory for construction, “The project has a complex design of the site. To make the green zone look harmonious, it needs to be properly leveraged. We are planning to plant trees. By the end of construction, they will become higher.”
Now the height of the main temple is 21 metres, but it will be 40 metres with a cross.
The architect Aleksandr Trukhin worked on the design of the temple complex. We pass inside, stop under an imaginary dome among brick walls. Scaffolding still occupies a significant part of the space in the prayer hall. Nonetheless, it is already clear: there are enough space for parishioners. The project includes a lift for people with disabilities. Downstairs, it is planned to build a small hall for meetings and events, a library, and technical rooms. 
“The third generation of parishioners has already grown up here. We need a parish house because we have a big Sunday school. Our community is like a complete family,” says Father Superior Archpriest Aleksandr Streha.
Prayers for construction are constantly performed here. God’s help and support of St. George the Victorious is especially tangible. 
Father Aleksandr was offered to build churches immediately after his ordination to the priesthood, “We fight for every brick, like our Soldier Patron did. It’s a miracle that the temple is being built. Prayer is the origin and crown of everything. The temple of the Lord is not in buildings, but in hearts. Parishioners actively participate in the construction of the church. Meanwhile, their inner temple grows. There are changes both at the spiritual and at the everyday life. People are becoming ‘churched’. For them, the church becomes a special meeting place with God, the centre of spiritual and mental life. Temple architecture protects from daily vanity.”

People need hope

The water reservoir on one side, ring road — on the other. The parish is isolated from the big city. However, in pre-COVID-19 times, up to a thousand people could pass through the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in a week. There are about four hundred permanent parishioners. They are the main donators. The parish has no major benefactors.
“Our largest one-time donation is a floor slab. It is the Lord who builds. And if God wants, then even if bit by bit, but we will raise money, the temple will be constructed. Let me give you an example. We needed to buy concrete. The man who financially helped us more than once had a difficult time. Where to get money? And then someone transfers the amount that is needed to the account. The Lord sent us such masons who do their best.” 
Deacon Mikhail adopts the experience of managing the construction of the temple, “These are not typical tasks for a monolithic spread. And it was necessary to find specialists who would perform the work. On the trip, we met a man from the construction industry. He helped us find workers who are now also getting to know church life. At the same time, building a temple is not a means to an end.” Father Aleksandr believes that the main purpose of the Father Superior is to build a community, conduct social work, deal with issues of catechesis, preaching, “It is important that people solve all problems with love. We must fight for the youth. Offer them not just food, drink. They must have hope. We made a coffee shop for socialising. In the summer, we hold open-air film screenings. In addition, we accept and distribute humanitarian aid, clothes, shoes, food to the poor.”
Another type of social service of this parish is the spiritual care of the patients of the Hospice palliative care hospital. According to Father Aleksandr, compassion is the most essential thing there. Since 2005, he has been conducting prayers and talks in the hospice, “In this room, a person meets with God through an adversity. Reconciles with relatives, frees himself from resentment and anger. When a patient comes to this, a miracle happens for me. We need to pray for help and reason why we face such difficulties. It is not a problem for God to heal, but is a person always ready to receive healing?” 

In support of his reflections, the Father Superior cites an incident that happened to his ward, “The woman was not able to walk. We have made an unction. And she got up. Her energy was revived. The patient was discharged, but I saw her again in the hospice five months later. What happened? Maria became much better, she could take care of herself. But, instead of thanking God for the relief of suffering, the woman went to the witch doctress. She wanted a complete cure. However, Maria again fell ill just after a visit to the doctor. Then she repented for a long time with tears in her eyes.”

Complex decoration

There are always fresh flowers next to the icons in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God. The parishioners bring them. St. George the Victorious, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Vladimir Mother of God — these and many other holy images were collected by the faithful here. Among them are modern and ancient masterpieces. The chased icon of the Patron Saint of the temple under construction was made by a parishioner Vikenty. It is usually taken in Cross Procession. And one family brought Our Lady of Kazan from home, an icon, presumably from the end of the 19th century. The image of St. Sebastian of Karaganda with a piece of relics was brought by a parishioner from Karaganda. The Great Martyr George the Victorious icon, a gift from the previous Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, resides in the altar. He laid a capsule in the wall of the temple in honour of the Icon of the Mother of God of Minsk. This church is not by chance situated by the water. In the old days, the miraculous image to which the temple is dedicated appeared at Svisloch River. His list is also in the Chizhovka church. There was a time when Korziuki village was located there. The village has been replaced by the city. However, residents who have moved to different parts of the country come to their native parish on major holidays. The connection with the spiritual home is not interrupted. The parishioners believe that the temple complex will become not only an ornament of the Chizhovka microdistrict, but also a centre of spiritual and mental life of people. 

By Olga Kosyakova
Photos by Yegor Yermalitskiy