The Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Brest
Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries
Despite a great number of religious buildings in Belarus and, particularly, in Brest region, it is always pleasant to gaze at one of the most famous and beautiful churches. The Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Brest is one of such churches.
Difficulties in the course of construction
Like many other Belarusian towns and settlements, Brest has got its churches and temples since ancient times. So, it is stated that the predecessor of a modern variant of the church had been a Catholic parish church since 1412.
In the first half of the XIX century, local influentials of the Brest-Litovsk fortress, particularly, of its Kobrin suburb, addressed Prince Golitsyn with request to construct a new church. The decision was made only 4 years later, but it did not mean an immediate beginning of the construction.
It was necessary to choose a plan that would find favor in the eyes of the governance – the governor, Prince and, of course, Imperator. The point is that the first variant of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was too simple even for late classicism.
At first the project of the future Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in Brest was given to the talented architect Vladimir Polikarpov. But despite his rich experience and excellent knowledge of the business, he could not fulfill the little-understood governance’s plan. Then the work was transferred to the other not less famous master – Yakov Fordon. The confirmation of his plan was in November 1849. That date was considered to be the start of the church construction.
From foundation to renovation
The date of consecration is traditionally considered to be a moment of official foundation and functioning of religious institutions. As to the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Brest, it happened in 1856 under the direction of the local priest Zhilinsky. Right after that the church “derived enrichment” from nearby chapels that were parts of the church complex. They were chapels of the Brest prison, Brest-Polesye station, Travgut gymnasium, school and hospice of the Sisters of Charity.
It is hardly can be said that the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross has come to us in its original form –its building was almost fully destroyed in the course of the destructive effects of the Second World War, so the substantial renovation was carried out in the 50-s of the last century. As a result, the church lost its front towers, and its inner decoration was also rather changed.
The local history museum was located there under the Soviet Union; and only at the beginning of the new millennium the local inhabitants achieved the resumption of its historical and religious status to the church. Today people see the church approximately in its original form – the architects have tried to take all the details into account.
So, the lost side towers and the triangular frontal between them were restored; an organ was installed within the walls of the church, the pilasters are renewed.
The main sanctuary
Since 1995 the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross houses the miraculous icon painted in oil “The Braslavsky Mother of God” that according to historians was created in the first half of the XVII century, and over those years it had changed a lot of monasteries and churches, from Rome to the Brest Dominican monastery.
Interestingly, the icon got its metal plating from the wife of Hetman Nikolay Pototsky who at one time saved the holy icon from the Tatar troops that had raped it at the time.