The Church of the Elevation of the Cross in Lida

All human history is closely connected with faith. The chronicle of human life does not remember such a moment when people did not deify objects, natural phenomena and people. In prehistoric times, people endowed natural disasters with supernatural powers and firmly believed that ordinary rain, blazing sun or severe frost were intrigues of gods. Some time later, in the XX century, Christianity began to develop actively in the territory of Belarus and since the XV century, the Belarusians has consciously identified themselves as Catholic or Orthodox Christians. Of course, paganism also existed at the time.

Herewith, the construction of churches was started in the XVI-XVII centuries. Especially many churches were built in Grodno region as that part of modern Belarus was in possession of Poland for a long time. Today Grodno region has the major part of cultural attractions such as ancient churches that have survived up to now.

The Church of the Elevation of the Cross deserves special attention that is a monument of late Baroque architecture. This Catholic sanctuary is situated in one of the most interesting towns of the region – in Lida.

Since the late XIV century, it had been planned to construct a Catholic sanctuary in Lida. But it is true that most attempts failed. All started in 1366 when Franciscan monks arrived to the town that was pagan-Orthodox at the time. It is known that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were constantly fighting for supremacy so it is not surprising that the monks that had come to Lida were killed. Some time later, the comrades of the killed monks arrived there for the same purpose: to found and start the construction of a Catholic parish not far from the Lida castle. The Franciscan monks brought to the town an icon of the Mother of God that some time later, became known as the Lida icon. 

Their attempts also proved fruitless. However, King Yagaylo consented to the construction of a town Catholic Church in 1388. But it did not stand for long, and as a result of the invasion of crusades, it was burnt. The following Catholic parish was built in Lida 8 years later, but it was closed on account of insufficient number of Calvinist parishioners in the XVI century. In the second half of the XVII century, the church was burnt as a result of the invasion of Ivan Hovansky’s troops during the Russian-Polish War.   

The modern building of the Church of the Elevation of the Cross was constructed in 1770. The bishop Tomash Zenkovich conducted the construction that was funded by the Vilno bishop Mikhail Zenkovich. The project was designed by the talented architect Christoph Glaubitz that was the founder of the architectural style of “Vilno Baroque”. Unfortunately, neither the founder of the church nor the architect could watch their work in reality – both died before the completion of the construction.

Today the church is decorated with three naves and a rectangular altar part. The main facade presents a two-tier corpus with a figured gable. The walls and vault of the structure are ornamented with fresco painting. The altars are made of marble; all sculptures and moldings present the style of Rococo in the church. Within the walls of the church, there is an icon of the Mother of God and Child that was brought to Lida by the Franciscan missioners in XIV century. So today, the Church of the Elevation of the Cross attracts not only Catholics but also those who are interested in architectural monuments and travel around Belarus.