The Intercession Cathedral in Vitebsk

Vitebsk is the most northern regional center of Belarus, located 292 km fr om the capital. The Western Dvina, which flows into the city, made it an important strategic point on the route “From the Varangians to the Greeks”.

Historical information

The emergence of Vitebsk is dated to the early 11th century. Like many other lands of Belarus, Vitebsk went from a city of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to a settlement of the Russian Empire.

Vitebsk also suffered from the occupation by Napoleon's army and the invasion of German soldiers.

If a century ago in Vitebsk lived 82 thousand people, in our days the population of Vitebsk has increased more than 4 times and it is 376 300 people.

Vitebsk Intercession Cathedral on Shubin Street stands on the same place wh ere once a wooden Church was. A wooden building dates back to the mid-18thcentury. The stone building's construction began in 1806. The temple was completely finished in 1821. Built on the initiative of the Order of Trinitarians, the Cathedral was designed in classical style. Not far from the structure there was a building for monks. However, after the closure of the Church in 1831, the monastery became a shelter for orphaned children. Later a women's prison was opened in the premises. Having been there for years, the prison in the postwar period gave way to a pre-trial prison.

The Cathedral was handed over to the Orthodox Church in 1858.  Money to rebuild the Cathedral into an Orthodox Church was allocated by Vitebsk merchant and industrialist Gregory Volkovich. Its final look the Church acquired in 1865, and was consecrated in honor of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary.

In 1913 the anniversary of the Romanovs’ estate was celebrated and in this regard, a new project was developed for the rebuilding of the temple. This time the construction was supplemented with a drum with a dome crowning the central part of the temple. The form of the pediment was also changed: a triangular pediment became semicircular.

 In 1930 the Intercession Church in Vitebsk shared the fate of most churches on the territory of the USSR, it was closed. During the German occupation the temple was opened again and in the summer of 1941 the relics of Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk found rest in it, because before they had been kept in the Museum of atheism. In 1943 the Shrine was transferred to Polotsk.

In the beginning of the 80-ies the Church, which had heavily been damaged during the war, decided to demolish, but a happy confluence of circumstances prevented this. And works on restoration of the Church were started in 1987. Three years later, on October 14, the first divine service was held in the restored building. The date was timed to the feast of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary. The restoration work was fully completed in 1992.

In our days the Cathedral runs a Sunday school. In addition to this, the temple includes workshops on painting icons and tailoring, a library.   

The Intercession Cathedral in Vitebsk is one of the favourite places of guests and residents of the city. A visit to this cultural and religious object is included in many excursions. A large number of believers gather for a common prayer and receiving the blessing of priests.