Religious tourismTo purify the soul, discover the grace of holy places, touch miracle-working icons, visit sacred springs and gain new spiritual experience - all this is possible while visiting Belarusian shrines. Belarus’ most revered places include St Euphrosyne Convent in Polotsk, the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Brest, the Roman-Catholic Church in Novogrudok built on the site of the former pagan temple, and biblical frescoes of St Stanislaus Cathedral in Mogilev.
Global significance of the Belarusian landmarks has been confirmed by UNESCO. The sites nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List are the cathedral with a burial vault of the Radziwills in Nesvizh, Sts Boris and Hleb (Kolozha) Church of the 12th century in Grodno, the Savior and St Euphrosyne Church and St Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk, St Nicholas Monastery in Mogilev, churches-fortresses in Synkovichi near Slonim and in Kamai near Postavy, wooden churches of Polesie.
The Orthodox heritage in Belarus is represented by the Holy Spirit Cathedral Church, Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Churches of St Mary Magdalene and St Alexander Nevsky and the Charity House of Saint Job the Longsuffering with a medical center, a hotel, an icon workshop and a holy well that was opened in Minsk in 2002.
Our country lies at the crossroads of European routes and different religions. Belarus has no history of religious harassment. Christians and Jews, Muslims and Hare Krishna followers, Zen Buddhists and Bahais, followers of esoteric and pagan religions have lived here in peace and concord for centuries. Traditions of East and West have intertwined in the country, each leaving its own spiritual and material print. For example, in the town of Mir, Belarus’ tourist gem, you can see an Orthodox church, a Roman-Catholic Church and a synagogue. And this is not an exception but the rule: places of worship of different faiths coexist in almost all cities and towns of the country.
Two centuries ago, rabbis from different countries, even from Africa and Japan, came to the Belarusian town of Volozhin to study the Talmud in the local yeshiva, a famous Jewish Theological Academy. Today Jews come to Belarus to pay tribute to the memory of the great followers of the Torah study, saddiks and rabbis. There are 78 old Jewish cemeteries, over 100 synagogues and yeshivas in Belarus.
Belarus has been home to Muslims for over 600 years. Wooden mosques can be found all over the country. The country’s oldest mosque is situated in the town of Ivye (Grodno Oblast), an unofficial capital of Belarusian Tatars.
There are Christian and Jewish children’s and youth camps in the country where active recreation is combined with prayer and spiritual education. Religious tourism in Belarus is not only a travel around sacred sites for cognitive and educational purposes. Pilgrimage is of a much greater moral significance than an ordinary excursion. During a pilgrimage tour you learn about the history and religious traditions of Belarus, find out more about church service, life of saints and holiness enthusiasts whose life and work were closely associated with the sacred sites.
Every year thousands of believers come to see miracle-working icons and incorruptible relics of the Belarusian saints: Euphrosyne of Polotsk, Saint Duchess Sophia of Slutsk, St John of Korma. The copies of the Shroud of Turin, linen that was placed on the body of Jesus Christ at the time of his burial, are kept in the Minsk Catholic Church of Sts Simon and Helen and the Cathedral Church of Grodno.
The Belarusian land is rich in miraculous signs and wonders. Icons shedding holy ointment, striking images of the Christ and the Mother of God appearing on trees and stones, unique boulders in the form of the cross as in ancient Turov - all these attract people who seek to explore the unknown. Many people come here to dive into the holy well, which healing powers have been confirmed by both scientists and religious figures.
The Monastery of the Holy Dormition in Zhirovichi gives everyone the opportunity to improve spiritually and to stay in the monastery to find his own path to God. Believers come to visit the village of Khmelevo (Zhabinka District, Brest Oblast) to see the wonderworking icon from Czestochowa and talk to Father Seraphim who is revered as a true miracle worker. Pilgrims also come to the Orthodox Convent of Holy Nativity and Mother of God located at the Brest Fortress to enjoy both the spiritual and material food, spend a night at the temple.
Pilgrimage tours across Belarus are often timed to coincide with a particular date. Believers come to worship the holy relics of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk on 5 June every year. Catholic pilgrims visit the Budslav Icon of the Mother of God on 2 July and the Rakov Dominican Church on 8 August.
To visit the holy places of Belarus, you can use the services of travel agencies. Those who want to become a true pilgrim, and to make a sacred pilgrimage with prayers and fasting, to attend services and communicate with a spiritual mentor, please contact the pilgrimage departments of the Belarusian Orthodox eparchies and Catholic dioceses, the Jewish Religious Union of Belarus.