The Church of the Holy Virgin Mary in Vereyki village

The population of the agro-town of Vereyki of Volkovysk district of Grodno region is only 1000 people. However, unique architectural monuments have survived in this small territory; guests from all regions of Belarus come here to watch them. We cannot but tell about the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary.

A Catholic parish was formed in that Belarusian location rather late – only in 1789 while it had happened in many other towns one or two centuries before. The wooden church of Vereyki was also constructed in the late XVIII century. The third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795 predetermined the fate of the whole Grodno region that became part of the Russian Empire. By the late XVIII century, the owner of Vereyki was Teodor Bisping that possessed 12 farmyards and 123 inhabitants at the time. Only twenty years later a number of local residents had almost doubled and the village itself had sufficiently grown.

The Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 predetermined the afterlife of Vereyki – that area of Belarus was given to the Polish Republic. And only by the end of 1940s the village became part of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

As to the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, its history is rather curious. It dates back to 1826 and to the compromise solution on the construction of a Catholic church. The daughter of the owners of those lands Iosif Bisping and Teodora Suhodolskaya – Alexandra – had been Catholic since her birth, but as they say, the heart knows no law, and the girl fell in love with the Orthodox Russian officer Alexander Svetchin. Of course, the strict parents did not give permission for the interfaith marriage for a long time. However, a solution was found to that love problem – the marriage would take place only under the condition that the Catholic Church would be constructed in Vereyki and an Orthodox temple would return to Kuzmichi village. And everything would have ended favorably but two years later a new decree was issued that banned the construction of any Catholic churches without a special permission. The problem of the construction of the Church of the Virgin Mary had already been solved and the new decree had not touched it.  

Thus, one of the most beautiful Belarusian churches appeared in 1840. It was consecrated in honor of the Holy Virgin Mary. Kazimezh Konstrym was appointed the first priest. Truly, today visitors cannot see the original appearance that the church had in the XIX century. Two centuries and several world wars left imprints on the exterior of the church. In the second half of the XX century, most Belarusian Catholic churches were eliminated and transferred to Orthodox believers or simply closed. Those events also wounded the church in Vereyki in 1964: its columns were demolished and a Byzantine tower was added. In 1992, the local people tried to return the church its initial appearance; however, nobody could remember what the church had been like earlier.

The preserved archive documents saved the situation. So the columns were returned and the tower was removed. The interior of the church is decorated with a wooden staircase that was used by parishioners in the XIX-XX centuries. A beautiful picturesque garden is laid out near the church. There are some species of plants in the garden. They are registered in the Red Book. In spring, a cherry bass and canoewood are in flower that along with the ancient architecture creates an imitable fabulous atmosphere.