The Church of the Transfiguration in Krevo

Krevo is one of the few Belarusian towns that were first mentioned not in Lithuanian but in German chronicles of the XIII century. It is the place where in 1387 the famous Union of Krevo was signed. For this purpose the Church of St Jan the Baptiste was constructed in the town. It is worth mentioning that this building of the church became the first one in the territory of the whole Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The construction was initiated by Great Prince Jagailo that in exchange for the Polish crown actively popularized Catholicism in Belarus. The church in Krevo for a long time was under the protection of mighty princes, kings and magnates. In 1440 by decree of Kazimir Yagellonchik it was agreed to join nearby small towns – Putilovo and Loshki to the church in Krevo. Over ten years later another two estates – Kutyshki and Bakshty - came to possession of the church. They were donated to the Catholic parish by Anna Katalovich and her son Yury.

It is not surprising that by the late XV century the church had become very rich. It was possible not only due to the generous land donations of noblemen but also thanks to the countrymen’s contributions. In the first hath of the XVII century the church was a little fortified: the material of the structure – wood – was left, but an iron roof was added. The interior was decorated with three altars above which an elegant dome with a cross rose. The parish comprised a parochial school, a hospital and a senior priest’s house. In the middle of the XIX century it was decided to construct a new brick church on the site of the wooden one. However, the church functioned only for fifteen years and then was closed. Some time later the building of the church was consecrated as an Orthodox temple. The local Catholics were opposed to this event as at the time there were no churches and three Orthodox temples.

It did not prevent people to keep faith in God. As a result the Krevo Catholics had succeeded in restoration of the parish in 1906. But the old building was not given them back; they got one of warehouses for keeping bread. But the residents of Krevo were not satisfied with what had already been achieved. Thus, 6000 parishioners under the auspices of the priest Oganovsky began construction of a new building of the church by using their own funds. Unfortunately, the engineering works were not finished. The destructive First World War mercilessly damaged everything that had been constructed and also the Trinity Temple – the building of the former Church of the Transfiguration. The war was over, and the town had risen from the ashes and continued to live and believe for the best.

The countrymen again raised money for the construction of a new church. As a result in 1936 the town was decorated with a new Catholic sanctuary. The priest Cheslav Kardel carefully made records in a special book who and how much donated for the construction of the church. Today this book is thought to be valuable and it is kept in the local museum. However, the first divine service was held there only in 1944. While designing the project of the new church the architects wanted to combine the brightest features of typical Belarusian folk architecture. Thus, today visitors of the church can see elements of Baroque, Art Nouveaux and Renaissance.

The Soviet government was strongly opposed to the existence of Catholic parishes so after the war the church was transformed into a hospital. Towers decorating the building were demolished, and instead of them the second storey was added. In the late XX century the new Church of Transfiguration was constructed in Krevo.