The Building of Ecclesiastical Consistory in Minsk
Architecture, Industrial buildings
The religious life of the country is impossible without corresponding administrative units. The ecclesiastical consistory has worked as such authority for a very long time in Belarus.
Functions and tasks
The building was constructed in Zakharyevskaya Street in 1864 on the initiative of the Orthodox diocese of the Russian Empire where the territory of Belarus was at that time. The ecclesiastical consistory acted as a rather independent unit and only a bishop and the Synod could interfere with its activities.
The scope of interests encompassed a rather wide range of areas:
- Formal legal proceedings were considered to be the main task. There were addressed issues regarding change of religion, disputes of the clergy, marriage dissolution, issues on ownership of land of the clergy and different other ones settled at the department of the diocesan court;
- Chancellery. The most important documents of the diocesan bishop department were kept in the building of the ecclesiastical consistory. Besides necessary references and certificates were issued here and any information concerning activities of this or that area was available.
- Executive function. The ecclesiastical consistory activated the orders of a bishop, received the reports, performed the audit and etc.
After a while there appeared other departments of the diocesan institution in the neighborhood: a residence of a bishop, a church, and outbuildings. This whole thing formed some sort of bishop premises.
When the Soviets had come to power after the separation of the church and the state most buildings and constructions connected with the diocese were demolished or transformed. For example, Officer House was founded on the site of the above mentioned church. And only the ecclesiastical consistory managed to survive. In spite of its suspended activity in 1924 the building was empty for some time. Relatively recently in 2004 here was started Saints Methodius and Cyrill Institute of Theology on the base of Belarusian State University where students are educated in theology and are prepared as specialists in the sphere of church business thus becoming a kind of logical follow-up of the activities of the ecclesiastical consistory reformed in accordance with demands of the current reality.
Today the building of the consistory represents a genuine example of 19th-century architecture and draws attention of tourists from around the world. Most guided tours of the capital include the building visit. Like some remaining pre-war constructions it shapes the image of the city and reminds of its historical past. It hasn`t been practically subjected to any essential reconstruction and restoration, so the building reflects the architectural standards of that period to the fullest extent.