The Church of the Archangel Michael in the Gnezno Village
Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries
Though Belarus is not a popular tourist place, but Belarusians themselves travel a lot around the most significant and interesting historical sites of the country. Many tourists choosing rest in forests and on lakes of their native land include visiting of the most important historical attractions into their program, for example, ancient Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Thus, an ancient architectural monument, the Church of the Archangel Michael has survived in the Belarusian location called Gnezno. Though this church is not the most famous but it has preserved almost its original appearance up to now despite the fact that its history counts five centuries of existence.
The church is really ancient: its construction was started in the 20s of the XVI century. At the time, the major part of Catholic churches presented the architectural style of “late Gothic”. The church in Gnezno, by the way, was no exception, but its design has some features of Renaissance. Interestingly, the building has been changed a little, just slightly tottering over five centuries, but it does not diminish its value and majesty. Most Belarusian churches were destroyed in the XIX-XX centuries either because of fires or lootings, or they were demolished by order of the Soviet authorities. So the Church of the Archangel Michael has a great value for preserving national and cultural heritage of the country.
The owners of those lands Yan and Elizabeth Shemetoviches decided to build a Catholic parish in the town in 1524. By the way, according to some sources, before that there had been a pagan sanctuary; it is confirmed by sacrificial stones found there in the XIX century.
As it has been said, the church is an example of Gothic with typical features of Renaissance. It is supported by horizontal moldings and various cornices. The octangular tower that is uncommon for Belarusian ancient structures attracts attention of all parishioners at first glance. The inner decoration is also of great interest. For example, sculptural compositions of the XVII-XVIII centuries are masterpieces of art and serve as the gem of the church. Ancient gates, a fence, a small stone chapel and an old cemetery have survived near the church.
Like many other churches in Belarus, the Church of the Archangel Michael has suffered many changes and numerous sorrowful events for its long history in Gnezno. For almost one century, the building of the church was used by Calvinists that formed a cathedral there. During the First and Second World Wars, the local residents used the building of the church as a fortress and hid there fr om enemies. Today a ball bullet that lodged in the brickwork of the walls of the church reminds us about those terrible events. The structure has suffered many fires for five centuries, however, every time the church was reconstructed with the great efforts of the townsmen and with the resources of the Catholic eparchy.
Today the priest Ludwig Stanishevsky has the lead of the church; he made a lot for the church and the local people, ranging from restoration work to popularization of Catholic religion. He is often seen near the entry of the church wh ere Ludwig tells about the history of the church and about the village itself with great pleasure.