The Franciscans monastery in the village of Udelo

The Franciscans monastery in the village of Udelo


Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries

The village of Udelo slightly differs from any other similar small Belarusian populated places. But it has a little, but very significant special appeal, which allows Udelo to be recognized not only among local residents, but also among all the Belarusians.

Since the XVII century there is the Franciscans monastery and the Church of Immaculate Conception of Mary here. The Franciscans were the representatives of a monastic order within the Catholic Church, who cultivated apostle poverty, asceticism and sincere love for the neighbour. This Order, by the way, is included into the list of the most ancient ones - it was founded in 1208 by Saint Francis of Assis.

In the XVIII century there was a growth of the order, at that time there were 25000 monks all over the world. Today the number of the Franciscans increased up to 30 000, and their influence hasn’t decreased over years. Nowadays monks have their own publishing houses, they lead and control several educational institutions. Usually they wear dark brown woollen frocks, belting it with rope and beads, and they’ve got to put on sandals on bare feet as a rule. That is why it is quite easy to tell them from other church’s servants.

In late XVIII century a monastery was erected near the Church of Immaculate Conception of Mary. Then it was a whole complex with several household buildings and belfry-gates with a fence. Initially the monastery had a U-shaped building, which unfortunately, was closed by the authorities in 1851. Now only a wing has left of this building. The rest part was taken apart by local residents in the late XIX century.

The church is a true soul of the village. It is a three-aisled building, decorated with sacristy on each side. The church itself is the personification of several architectural styles – classicism and the Baroque. A brick building was erected in 1790 on the site of the old wooden monastery, where monks-Franciscans had lived. The interior looks attractive due to its cylindrical domes, there are lofts above the entrance. Earlier an organ with 12 voices stood in its place, that is why local residents came here very often on Sundays and on holiday divine services.

In the XIX century the church along with the monks’ dwelling building were taken away by the authorities, and only in 2000 the church and left of the monastery structure were returned to the Catholics. A sport ground and a small pond are located in this territory now. The basement of the church was transformed into a museum, where the parishioners and guests of the town could get to know a bit more about the activities of the Franciscans in the territory of Belarus in XVIII-XIX centuries. 

In the second half of the XIX century it was decided to abolish the monastery by order of the local authorities, only the church operated. But after the events of the Great Patriotic War even the church was closed for almost forty years. In late XX century Joseph Bulka was appointed as a beneficiary, who managed to restore the building on his own and to bring it into a good shape. Joseph could prove that only one person can influence the course of history. He was very successful not only in the building sphere and restoration of Catholic shrines, but in his deeds and behaviour towards local residents. Thus, Bulka achieved that 75 % of all his parishioners kept a healthy lifestyle. And such a success can be gained far from every priest! 

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