The Church of Virgin Mary in the Village Replya

Some churches situated in the territory of Belarus can impress at a glance with their majesty and monumentality. Many of them are rightly included into the list of historical and cultural property of the country and protected by the state. Not only Belarus cares for preserving the historical heritage but also local people help to maintain the wellbeing of the local churches: some donate money and others help to clean and improve the surrounding territory of a church. Perhaps, due to this a unique historical structure – the Church of the Virgin Mary – has survived up to now in the village Replya of the Volkovysk district of the Grodno region.

The village was first mentioned in chronicles of the XV century; at the time this site was in possession of Bishop Paul Gashtold that later handed it over to Stanislav Odahovsky. Representatives of this noble dynasty originally were fr om Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania but some time later they moved to Belarus. The most prominent personality is Christopher Odahovsky.

They considered Replya to be the place wh ere men came to fowl; here the Odahovskies built a small house in which they liked to arrange family parties, have supper and spend their free time with all kinds of entertainment. Nicolay Yasinsky and Ivan Kar changed the Odahovskies and became new owners of Replya. In the XVII century the territory came to possession of the Scipiones noble family of the Italian origin. It is a world-widely known name; the Scipiones came to Belarus together with Queen Bona Sforza. This woman was the wife of King Sigismund I and mother of the Heir to the Throne Sigismund August II. After their arrival to Belarus the Scipiones family set foot there and for a short time they managed to come into the magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

So Yury Francevich Scipione became the full-right owner of the village Replya and got the status of an ambassador of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Sejm. By his order in 1626 the construction of the Church of the Virgin Mary was started. He presented 15 voloks of ground to the church, and later he consecrated it in honor of St Anne. Six years later in the village there appeared the Replya parish that soon became rich and took into possession of lots of the Grodno lands and nearby villages.

This church that we can see today in the village Replya was founded thanks to parishioners and the priest Vladislav Lavrinovich. It was due to the fact that the former church constructed in the early XVII century had been burnt. Soon it was reconstructed; however, this building was not destined to stand for a long time in the name of Catholic believers.

The modern Church of the Virgin Mary in Replya presents a true work of art. The massive structure made of red brick is decorated with two high towers rising above the main entry. Interestingly, the constructors of the building left their palm imprints on the walls. It is not clear whether it was done by accident or intentionally, but today a lot of tourists come here to watch these imprints. There has survived a small chapel constructed in the late XIX century.