Sanctuary in Borovikovshchina village
Sanctuary as the symbol of faith

A terrible tragedy occurred in Borovikovshchina village in the Great Patriotic War period. Back then, the territory of Belarus was practically on fire of Hitler`s disaster, people were burnt alive in villages and settlements, the innocent were shot, temples and houses were in flames.  But there were always those who performed an exploit in the name of the people. That was exactly what saved once our country fr om the disaster and Belarusians are proud to remember those who sacrificed their lives for victory, for faith.

Following the residents of the village

There is no doubt that German Stenpenya and Achilles Pukhala belong to such people. German and Achilles came to Belarus fr om Poland and, in a twist of fate, both of them found themselves in Pershayi  village that was situated not far fr om the town of Ivenets. German was a vicar and Achilles served as a priest. A riot erupted against fascist conquest of the lands on the territory of Ivenets in wartime. In retaliation for this, the Nazis began to carry out massacres of the civilian population in surrounding villages. So the Nazis appeared to eliminate the local inhabitants of Pershayi village on 19 July 1943.

The commissioner of police was Catholic and he warned German and Achilles of the danger in Pershayi village. But both of them refused to flee. G. Stenpenya and A. Pukhala decided to stay with the villagers, to be with them for the rest of their lives.

Saved from death

A perfectly ordinary day for many people became the last one in their lives. The residents of Pershayi village were gathered by Germans and sent to Borovikovshchina village wh ere most people were slaughtered in the end. The Germans were very pleased with the fact that two priests were found among the locals. The bodies of German and Achilles were burnt in public. Later, the remains of the heroes were buried near the Church of St. Yuri in Pershayi village.

When the dreadful war was over and the peace came to the Belarusian land, a really long time had passed before Sanctuary was built.  The Pope of Rome John Paul ll canonized the priests for their faith and devotion on the 13th of June in 1999.

Place of pilgrimage

The Sanctuary in Borovikovshchina village was built at the very place wh ere the fascists executed the priests.  A sanctuary is a very rare religious and spiritual-cultural structure in Belarus. It is unlike the usual temple but its significance is no less important. Both pilgrims and usual tourists visit this place to pay tribute to the memory of the priests.

The residents of the village do not forget to come to the sorrowful place wh ere the Franciscan Fathers G. Stenpenya and A. Pukhala accepted martyr death. The way to the Sanctuary is a mournful path full of not only sorrow but also of faith and strength as exactly these qualities were expressed by the two brave inhabitants of the village.

The priests` exploit will be remembered by many generations as the Sanctuary is the symbol of faith that once saved most villagers. Borovikovshchina village will be patronized by the saints for a long time and people might bring here their families to pay respects to the saints.