The Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Mstislavl

The Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Mstislavl


Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries

Mstislavl is considered to be one of the oldest and the most beautiful towns of Belarus. And this is not surprising, as that place was mentioned in the cult Hypatian chronicle as back as in early XII century as being one of the defensive units of Smolensk principality. Since that distant time, a few architectural monuments of the XVI-XX centuries have preserved on the small town’s territory, which are of great interest to all those engaged in the ancient Belarusian architecture.

It is worth noting that the town had been a major commercial and cultural centre prior to the XVIII century. Several Orthodox, Catholic and Jesuit churches were actively built and developed in the town. However, after 1778, when the town-scale restructuring had been carried out, Mstislavl changed a lot. That was like a completely different town: an axial composition with threading squares and streets can be seen today. Then almost all towns, which had been included in the Russian Empire, changed a lot under the influence of urban policy of reorganization throughout the empire.

Today you can see only the ruins of the once majestic and monumental building, the church of St. Michael the Archangel, in one of the main town streets. It was built in Mstislavl in 1637. At that time, the large building was made in Vilnius Baroque style. A little later, by the end of the XVII century, a Jesuit College and a pharmacy for the monastery were built nearby.

A century after the temple had been constructed, it was renovated. It was decided to entrust those restoration works into the talented hands of famous architect Johann Haubitz, who, incidentally, restored another Mstislav temple. By the way, the unique mural, that display the famous conquest of the town by Trubetzkoy warlord at the end of the XVII century, have preserved since then. You can see the town's castle on one side of the fresco and the other side clearly tells about the repression of the rebellious Catholic priests.

In the XVII-XIX centuries, the Jesuit temple along with the monastery was very rich and prosperous. There is even a very interesting story, connected with that. Empress Catherine II favoured Jesuits, and one day she decided to visit Mstislavl. To properly meet the Empress, Jesuit monks carefully thought over the meeting with such an important guest. Two boys with white wings on were let down with the ropes. Those boys, portraying divine angels, put a laurel wreath on the head of the Empress. Catherine joy knew no bounds! In gratitude for such a reception, she, sparing no money, royally bestowed the monks.

The children of the nobles were taught at the collegium under the church. They were taught Latin, some sciences and theology. At the pharmacy, it was possible to buy medicines, which were produced in accordance with the latest science achievements. In 1842, the monastery was confiscated from the Jesuits and the building was given to the Orthodox. A little later, a boarding school was established there.

Today, the Church of St. Michael the Archangel is in the process of restoration. The locals have high hopes that the most important architectural monument will not only beautify the town, but will also become a bright gem of ancient architecture of Mogilev region once again in the near future.



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