THE MONASTERY OF BERNARDINERS IN NESVIZH

Nesvizh

Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries

Nesvizh… What a melodious and pleasant to the ear the name of one of the oldest cities in Belarus is! Once this place was one of the most important cultural centres on the territory of Belarus. It is in Nesvizh where chic balls, where local nobles and the Belarusian elite gathered, were arranged. Small theatre performances, which the owners and their guests liked to watch so much, were played here. Nesvizh is rich in architectural buildings of the XVII-XX century as well. And today this cosy Belarusian town is filled with the unique atmosphere of that time, as if the present hasn’t touch it by any means.

The monastery of Bernardiners, which functioned along with Saint Helena Church, has preserved on the territory of Nesvizh. The whole complex was carefully designed by Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni late in XVI century. After a century, two chapels of Saint Francis and Anna were attached to the Catholic Church. At the same time, a school of theology, which was soon substituted with the school of philosophy, was opened under the monastery of Bernardiners. A year of 1655 brought a tragic event: the fire almost completely destroyed the monastery building. However, it was soon rebuilt. The school, operating in Nesvizh up to 1864, was also reconstructed in 1731.

There were rare icons and patrons’ gravestones of the famous Belarusian gentry families in the Saint Anna Church. For example, an ancestor of the famous influential figure of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Tadeush Reynat – Michail Kazimir Reynat rested there. The crucifix placed on the high altar was a miracle-working. Besides, three brotherhoods were under the church. In late XVIII century, the buildings of the church and the monastery had been burned down again, and then rebuilt after a decade. A cloth manufactory operated under the Bernardiners monastery, a large library was opened and archival premises were located there as well.

In 1864, the Monastery of Bernardiners was abolished, and it was decided to pass the residential area to the military department. The church also faced sad changes: the Catholic church was given to Orthodox believers. The monks, living in the monastery, were expelled to Kretinga (now it is the territory of contemporary Lithuania), Mozyr and Gorodische. The events of the WW II damaged the monastery building to a little degree, yet walls of the construction imbibed those terrible echoes of German invaders. The church was completely destroyed in 1950’s, and today one residential building has left of the former monastery of Bernardiners.

Then, the monastery of Bernardiners was built on the place, attached to the defensive earthwork of the town from north-west. Today you can see it, if you walk from the Castle tower along the Geisik Street, turn to the left and pass the building of one of the establishments.

So, even today – in the XXI century –  the city of Nesvizh is filled with the antiquity spirit, the aroma of old times is felt in every street, small paved roads represent the echo of the past. It is a great pleasure to walk through the city, especially through the estate-park territory of the Nesvizh Castle. Visiting this place, every guest can see all the tour potential of the country and touch the rich and eventful history of the Belarusian state. 

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