Sights of Belarus: Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholicism and Orthodoxy have always gone hand-in-hand on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. This is due to geographical features (proximity to Catholic Poland and Orthodox Russia), and a long history, during which Belarusian lands were a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire.
One of the brightest examples of a true Catholic faith is Annunciation Church, or the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in the village of Vishnyovo in Volozhin district, Minsk region.
History of the creation of the Church in Vishnevo
The left bank of the river Golshanka, near the Western border of the village was chosen as a location of the Catholic Church. On the Church you can see the number “1424” which means the date of the construction of the first wooden building. The initiator of this became the famous Prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Vytautas. A current stone Church was built on its place in 1637-1641. The date “1637” can be seen on the walls of the temple too, but also inside, under the arches of the prayer hall. Funds for construction were allotted by the voivode of Novogrudok Ezhe (Yuri) Khreptovich. In the building, under a side chapel, there is his crypt.
It is interesting that after the fire had occurred in the Church in 1771, its reconstruction was also carried out with the financial support of the representatives of the Khreptovich family, who had owned Vishnyovo lands for a long time. Along with the reconstruction there were some changes in the architecture of the building itself: vestries were added – two square chapels near the altar area.
The modern appearance of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Vishnevo
Finally in 1906 the Church acquired its usual outlines. There is a fact that earlier, built in the architectural style of the early Baroque, it did not have typical towers. The situation was corrected with a small extension – a narrow narthex with square towers.
It is interesting that the temple was not closed even in the Soviet period although, as it is known, the Soviet regime caused serious damage to religious and cultural life of Belarus. Since 1953 services have been conducted in Belarusian language in Annunciation Church.
Features of the architecture of the church in Vishnevo
The Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary itself is quite distinctive; it is a three-tier façade with tetrahedral towers and a figured shield on the upper tier between them. High patterned Gothic arches, decorated with intricate molding, giving the building a scale and expressiveness, are not typical for the Baroque style.
The famous Belarusian artist Ferdynand Ruszczyc took part in formation of the unique image of Annunciation Church. So he painted the arches and pylons. It is interesting that besides the works on the temple walls and only one painting ("At the Church"), all artworks of the great master are abroad.
The altars of the 18th century inside the Church are decorated with wooden sculptures and carved patterns. Here is located the icon of the Mother of God.
In the second half of the 19th century not far from Annunciation Church, to the east of it, there were built gates, also functioning as bell towers. They are represented in the form of three apertures with bells located above the arched opening. The bells are adorned with small pediments.
Excursion to the village of Vishnevo with a visit to the church
Nowadays the temple is included in the state list of historical and cultural values of the Republic of Belarus, therefore lovers of the ancient Belarusian architecture should visit the village of Vishnevo along with a sightseeing tour across Belarus. Despite its small size, this village will amaze you with several interesting sights: