The Church of the Transfiguration in Novogrudok

The town of Novogrudok is one of the most ancient places of Belarus. It started its history in the XX century, when the town was a residence of noblemen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. And at the time, when other Belarusian towns had never been mentioned in chronicles, Novogrudok was considered to be a large center of trade and crafts. Today we can see evidences of these events – ruins of the castle complex surrounded with massive moats and the Church of the Transfiguration.

This unique church is also known as the Cathedral Church. The structure is a bright embodiment of the age of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The church was constructed in 1395 by order of Great Prince Vitovt. At the time, the building was designed in the style of Gothic of the IX century, and in the XVIII century after restoration works; the church had got features of Sarmatian Baroque.

Today visitors of this place can see three Gothic chapels differing from each other by shapes and sizes. These three colored stained-glass artworks with ribbed vaults have an unstructured composition that in fine forms a single whole. Within the church, you can see three facetted altar parts of the chapels that are orientated to different directions and dedicated to several saints. According to some researchers, the allusion to all the saints is a bright reminiscence of paganism.

By the way, such a version can exist as Vitovt founded the church on the site of a former pagan temple. On the lateral façade, you can find a memorial tablet that gives evidence of the wedding ceremony held within the walls of the church between Prince Yagaylo and his last wife Sofia Golshanskaya. Sofia was the fourth wife and laid the foundation of the famous dynasty of the Yagellons. Near the church, there is an ancient larch that was planter in honor of the 600thanniversary of Sofia Golshanskaya birth.

The inner decoration is rich in historical antiquities and rare objects. For example, there has been a marble bas-relief in the church since the XVII century. It was the symbol of memory about the knights that laid down their lives in the war with Turks near Khotyn.

Since 1712 and to 1740, restoration works has been carried out in the church. Another important and significant historical event took place in 1857. The outstanding Belarusian-Polish poet and writer Adam Mitskevich was baptized there on 12 February. After that the Catholic sanctuary was closed almost for a century and only in 1906 the building was returned to Catholics. And the church was again restored and newly consecrated.

The church suffered the terrible events of the Great Patriotic War. Nazis executed 11 Novogrudok martyrs on August 1943. They were buried near the church. Today Sisters are canonized and their relics are considered to be antiquities. Near the church, there was installed a stela in their honor.

For seven centuries, Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church of Novogrudok has been the soul and place of healing thought of Catholic believers. And still the townsmen come there every weekend to hear the Sunday worship, light a candle for the health or the eternal rest of relatives and friends.