The history of Zhirovichi monastery began in the 15th century. In 1470 a wonderworking icon of the Holy Mother of Good suddenly appeared on w wild pear tree inside the estate of local magnate Alexander Soltan. There was founded a church and a settlement. Later the church was destroyed by fire, but the icon appeared in Zhirovichi again – this time it was presented to local children by Virgin Maria herself, as the legend says. The church was restored and then a monastery was built nearby.
In 1642 Zhirovichi received the status of a village and an emblem. During World War I the icon was taken to Moscow’s St Basil Cathedral, and in the 1920s it returned back to Belarus. Currently the icon is kept in the Monastery of Holy Assumption of Zhirovichi.
The Monastery of Holy Assumption of Zhirovichi was first mentioned in chronicles in 1587. From 1613 to 1839 the monastery belonged to the Basilian monastic order, and its first preceptor was Josophat Kuntsevich. From 1828 till 1839 the building hosted a Uniate seminary. After the Uniate church was liquidated, the monastery was handed over to the Orthodox Christian church and hosted an Orthodox Christian seminary till 1915. The monastery had a valuable collection of books and rare manuscripts which was later taken to St Petersburg. In the period between the two world wars were handed over to Roman Catholics. From the 1960s till the end of the 1980s it served as a residence of nuns from Grodno and Polotsk. The seminary was revived in 1989. Currently the monastery contains three churches, a seminary, a bell tower, a dining room, household buildings and dwelling rooms.
The Cathedral of the Holy Assumption (1629-1671) is situated nearby. In 1828 it was reconstructed and acquired the characteristics of Classicism. The interior paintings were made by a local artist, and the iconostasis of the cathedral belongs to the Baroque style. The Theophany Church is also part of the monastery. It was built at the place where the icon of the Holy Mother of God appeared for the second time in 1672 (1769 according to other sources). The church keeps the stone on which Virgin Maria appeared, according to the legend.
Behind the Theophany Church there is the Church of the Exhalation of the Holy Cross (Baroque). The quadrangle church contains an imitation of the Calvary with 28 infamous steps, which led Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate.
Presently Zhirovichi is the destination of pilgrims from all over the world who come to see the wonderworking icon. The icon has been attracting a lot of public attention from the 17th century. The sixe of the icon is just 5,6 x 4,4 cm. A copy of Zhirovichy icon was found in one of the temples in Rome. In 1730 Pope Benedict XIII authorized the crowning of Zhirovichi icon, thus recognizing its wonderworking power.
Yelochka cafe, Zhirovichi, tel. (801562) 96212
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