Chapel on the Island of Tears in Minsk

The Island of Tears or the Island of Courage and Grief is situated in the historical place-the centre of the capital of the republic of Belarus. This memorial is dedicated to the Belarusian soldiers lost in 1979-1989 years in Afghanistan. The memorial was formally set up in early August 1996 though the process of building started in 1988 when the war in Afghanistan still went on. About thirty thousand Belarusians took part in that terrible long war, almost eight hundred people were killed, twelve persons went missing and about 720 soldiers were permanently handicapped. The memorial which is placed on the artificial island of the Svisloch River can be reached by an arch bridge flashed by the red lights at night.  There is a large boulder with an icon of the Mother of God hidden in its alcove and an orthodox church.

The boulder at the bridge has the plaque with the words «To commemorate the sons lost in Afghanistan is built this memorial church on behalf of the Belarusian mothers who do not want the evil to dominate their land or any other land». This boulder was established here in 1988 fr om the start of construction.

In the centre of the memorial complex is the chapel built in commemoration of the soldiers-internationalists whose 771 names of dead are listed on the walls. The chapel is situated on sixteen piles and resembles the church of Euphrosyne of Polotsk of the times of 11th century. There are the stories of the Bible depicted on the ceiling and the walls of the chapel. Mural painting and the icons are performed by the method of wax painting when the strongly heated wax paints are applied to the base. The central icon of the church is the Divine Mother of Belarus. It depicts Belarus as a woman surrounded by her sons-the warriors of the Afghan war, the Great Patriotic war and other wars. There are four altars with the cut names of the lost soldiers where the parishioners can light candles. The metallic threads stretch from the dome of the church to the floor symbolizing the connection of the terrestrial and eternal. When it is windy the bells and the threads sway and create the melodies stirring the blood. Outside one can see the statues of women that personify mothers who wait for their sons from war. Some statues are a bit ahead with lanterns in their hands as if they hope to see their sons alive, the others stand further away and they no longer wait because are aware of the terrible truth. A cross with an inlet ruby inside rises above the church. In the evening the ruby is lighted by the lantern installed into the floor. The red stone symbolizes Jesus Christ`s blood.

One more element of the memorial is the figure of a crying angel. He cries because he couldn`t protect and save the Belarusian soldiers from death. The ancient boulders scattered on the territory of the island date back to the times of the ice age with the names of the Afghani provinces wh ere the Soviet troops fought.

Newlyweds often come to the island of tears and lay flowers. This place is visited by tourists too. On 15 February the day of withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, veterans of the war in Afghanistan and relatives of the alive and dead soldiers come to the island of tears to pay their respects.

The Island of Tears is not only the monument to the lost soldiers of the war in Afghanistan, it is a symbol of sorrow to all dead Belarusian warriors of all times, a commemorative symbol.