The Church of St. John the Baptist in Vasilishki village

Vasilishki is a village situated in Schuchinsk district of Grodno region. But it is true that today it is not a village but a full agro-town that was formed by using the funds of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus. There are a lot of attractions, different architectural monuments and sculptures in this modern location. One of them is an architectural monument of late Baroque – the Church of St. John the Baptist.

The history of this church dates back to the XVII century. It is true that different dates of the foundation of this church are mentioned in different records. The historical chronicles state that the wooden church in honor of St. John the Baptist was constructed in Vasilishki in 1635 using the funds of Pavel Stefan Sapega. Later on the initiative of Martin Limont, on 14 August 1652, a monastery of Dominicans was established on the basis of the church. However, the church and the monastery were destroyed by fire in 1702. The senior priest of the monastery Mikhail Mezhevsky planned the construction of a new brick church in 1769. It was consecrated by the bishop Valentin Volchatsky on 30 November 1790.

Two three-tier towers form the picturesque silhouette of the westerly facade of the monumental church. The rich architectural decoration of the facade creates sculptural plasticity: gracefully curved moldings and cornices, rectangular panels and segmental niches. Convex surfaces interchange with concave ones; every tier of the eave ledgement is strictly defined; graceful pilasters are decorated with bolsters. Within the church in the center near the altar, there is a holy icon of the early XX century called “Epiphany”. There are 7 altars in the church; they all are made of imitation of pink and blue marble with gilding after the fashion of Rococo that gives the interior the colorful richness and festivity.

It is worth saying that the history of this church keeps many interesting facts. Thus, there was a big fire outbreak in Vasilishki in 1782. It brought a great damage to the whole village, however, the church remained unharmed. During the hurricane of 1810, a significant part of the  roof of the church was blown out, and a part of the unfinished tower was also destroyed, but all those damages were liquidated. With the elimination of the monastery of Dominicans in Vasilishki, the church was given to the fold of the Orthodox Church in 1832. At the time, an onion dome was erected on the facetted drum above the gable roof.

The priest Stanislav Pytel began to patronize the Church of St. John the Baptist in 1990; thanks to him, the church was reconstructed, a wooden ceiling hiding the vaults of the naves and sapping the integrity of the Baroque interior of the church was removed.

Today a parochial school functions in Vasilishki on the basis of the Church of St. John the Baptist. A great number of travelers and pilgrims come here.