Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (Belarusian: Беларуская грэка-каталіцкая царква, BHKC), sometimes called, in reference to its Byzantine Rite, the Belarusian Byzantine Catholic Church, is the heir within Belarus of the Union of Brest and Ruthenian Uniate Church. It is listed in the Annuario Pontificio as a sui iuris Church, an Eastern rite particular Church in full union with the Catholic Church.

Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
ClassificationEastern Catholic
GovernanceApostolic visitor
LeaderMitred Archpriest Sergiusz Gajek
AssociationsCongregation for the Oriental Churches
LiturgyByzantine Rite
HeadquartersMarian House, Finchley, England, UK
Origin1596 (first), 1990 (second)
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (first), Belarus (second)
Separated fromRuthenian Orthodox Church (first)
Merger ofUnion of Brest and Ruthenian Uniate Church (first)
Defunct1839 (first)
Membersc. 7000
Religie w I Rz-plitej 1573
Religions in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1573:
Religie w I Rz-plitej 1750
Religions in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1750:
 Latin Catholic 
 Greek Catholic 


The Christians who, through the Union of Brest (1595–96), entered full communion with the See of Rome while keeping their Byzantine liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, were at first mainly Belarusian (Litvin). Even after further Ukrainians joined the Union around 1700, Belarusians still formed about half of the group. According to the historian Anatol Taras, by 1795, around 80% of Christians in Belarus were Greek Catholics, with 14% being Latin Catholics and 8% being Orthodox.[1]

The partition of Poland and the incorporation of the whole of Belarus into Russia led, according to the Russian Orthodox Church,[2] many Belarusians (1,553 priests, 2,603 parishes and 1,483,111 people) to unite, by March 1795, with the Russian Orthodox Church. Another source[3] seems to contradict this, since it gives the number of parishes that came under Russian rule in 1772 only as "over 800", meaning that many priests and people remained in communion with Rome.

After the unsuccessful 1830-1831 November Uprising against Russian rule and the subsequent removal of the predominantly Catholic local nobility from influence in Belarusian society, the three bishops of the Church, along with 21 priests,[3][4] convoked in February 1839 a synod that was held in Polatsk on 25 March 1839. This officially brought 1,600,000 Christians and either 1,305[2] or some 2,500[3] priests to join the Russian Orthodox Church.

However, some priests and faithful still refused to join. The Russian state assigned most of the property to the Orthodox Church in the 1840s, and some priests emigrated to Austrian Galicia, while others chose to practise in secret the now-forbidden religion.

When, in 1905, Tsar Nicholas II published a decree granting freedom of religion, as many as 230,000[4] Belarusians wanted union with Rome. However, since the government refused to allow them to form a Byzantine-Rite community, they adopted the Latin Rite, to which most Belarusian Catholics now belong.

After the First World War, the western part of Belarus was included in the reconstituted Polish state, and some 30,000 descendants of those who, less than a century before, had joined the Russian Orthodox Church joined the Catholic Church, while keeping their Byzantine liturgy. In 1931, the Holy See sent them a bishop as Apostolic Visitator. After the Soviet Union annexed West Belarus in 1939, an exarch for the Belarusian Byzantine-Rite faithful was appointed in May 1940, but, a mere two years later, he was arrested and taken to a Soviet concentration camp, where he died.

While from then on very little information about the Byzantine Catholics in Belarus could reach Rome, refugees from among them founded centres in western Europe (Paris, London and Louvain) and in parts of the United States of America, especially in Chicago. From 1947, Father Leo Haroshka initiated in Paris a pastoral and cultural periodical called Bozhym Shliakham (Божым Шляхам), which was published from 1960 to the end of 1980 in London. In London also, Father Alexander Nadson began translating the Byzantine liturgical texts into the Belarusian language in the 1970s. Thanks to this work, when in 1990 the first Greek-Catholic parishes could be organized in Belarus, they were able immediately to use these texts in their national language.[5]

In 1960, the Holy See appointed Cheslau Sipovich as Apostolic Visitator for the Belarusian faithful abroad. He was the first Belarusian Catholic bishop since the Synod of Polatsk. A successor, Father Uladzimir Tarasevich, was appointed in 1983. After his death in 1986, Father Alexander Nadson was appointed Apostolic Visitator, but not, at his own request, raised to episcopal rank.

The 1980s saw a gradual increase in interest among Minsk intellectuals in the Greek-Catholic Church. Articles by Anatol Sidarevich and Jury Khadyka about its history appeared in the 1987-1988 issues of Litaratura i Mastastva. And in the autumn of 1989 some young intellectuals of Minsk decided to publish the periodical Unija intended to promote the rebirth of the Greek-Catholic Church.[5]

In early 1990, Father Nadson brought humanitarian aid from Belarusians abroad to their compatriots at home still suffering as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He was surprised to meet young Belarusians who said they were Greek Catholics. On 11 March, he celebrated Minsk's first Divine Liturgy in the national language, and, two days later, had a meeting with the editors of Unija, the first issue of which was then printed in Latvia.[5]

September 1990 saw the registration of the first Greek-Catholic parish since the Second World War, and in early 1991 Father Jan Matusevich began to celebrate the liturgy in his Minsk apartment. He was later put in charge of all the Greek-Catholic parishes in Belarus, and died in 1998.

By 1992, three priests and two deacons in Belarus were celebrating the Byzantine liturgy in Belarusian. The same year, a survey by Belarus State University found that 10,000 people in Minsk identified themselves as Greek Catholics.[6] Extrapolated to the country as a whole, this was interpreted to mean that, especially among the intelligentsia and nationally conscious youth, some 120,000 Belarusians were in favour of a rebirth of the Greek-Catholic Church. Because of the lack of priests and churches this interest did not lead to membership.[5]

Present situation

At the beginning of 2005, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church had 20 parishes, of which 13 had obtained state recognition. As of 2003, there have been two Belarusian Greek Catholic parishes in each of the following cities - Minsk, Polatsk and Vitsebsk; and only one in Brest, Hrodna, Mahiliou, Maladziechna and Lida. The faithful permanently attached to these came to about 3,000, while some 4,000 others lived outside the pastoral range of the parishes. Today there are 16 priests, and 9 seminarians. There was a small Studite monastery at Polatsk. The parishes are organized into two deaneries, each headed by a protopresbyter or archpriest.

Two of the parishes had small churches. Some of the others had pastoral centres with an oratory.

Belarusian Greek Catholics abroad, numbering about 2,000, were under the care of Mitred Protopresbyter Alexander Nadson as Apostolic Visitator until his death in 2015. The chief centres are the Church of St Cyril of Turau and All the Patron Saints of the Belarusian People in London and Antwerp (constituted in 2003).[5]

A parish in Chicago, that of Christ the Redeemer, existed from 1955 to 2003. It was founded by Father John Chrysostom Tarasevich and was later the home parish of Bishop Uladzimir (Vladimir) Tarasevich until his death, after which it was administered by the local Latin Catholic ordinary, who appointed first Father Joseph Cirou and then Father John Mcdonnell as administrators. On 7 September 1996, the parish had seen the ordination of Prince Michael Huskey, EOHS as the first Belarusian deacon in the United States. Father Deacon Michael served in the parish until it was closed by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, on 20 July 2003.

See also


  1. ^ Каталіцтва, аб якім мы не ведаем
  2. ^ a b Воссоединение Униатов и Исторические Судьбы Белорусского Народа
  3. ^ a b c Siarhiej Hajek: The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church Yesterday and Today in Καθολική of 25 July 2006
  4. ^ a b Oriente Cattolico (1974), page 176
  5. ^ a b c d e Siarhiej Hajek: The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church Yesterday and Today in Καθολική of 22 August 2006
  6. ^ Servizio Informazioni Chiese Orientali (2005), page 165


  • Belarusian Catholic Mission (Byzantine rite) in London
  • History of the Greek Catholic Church in Belarus by Alexander Nadson
  • The history of the Uniate Church and its disestablishment in the 19th century.
  • Oriente Cattolico (Vatican City: The Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches, 1974)
  • Annuario Pontificio
  • Ronald Roberson, CSP; The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey (6th edition); 1999; Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale; Rome, Italy; ISBN 88-7210-321-5
  • Archimandrite Siarhiej Hajek: The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church Yesterday and Today (Greek translation published in instalments on Καθολική (Athens), beginning with the issue of 25 July 2006)
  • 1780—1800-я гады: рэлігійная канверсія беларускіх уніятаў
Andrei Pavlovich Ablameyko

Archpriest Andrei Pavlovich Ablameyko (Belarusian: Андрэй Паўлавіч Абламейка; born 30 April 1970, Minsk, Belarus) is a Belarusian Greek Catholic priest.

Apostolic visitor

In the Catholic Church, an apostolic visitor (or Apostolic Visitator) is a papal representative with a transient mission to perform a canonical visitation of relatively short duration. The visitor is deputed to investigate a special circumstance in a diocese or country, and to submit a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the investigation.

Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which has sometimes abbreviated its name as the B.A.O. Church or the BAOC, is a religious body in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

Belarusians in Ukraine

Belarusians in Ukraine is the second biggest minority after Russians. Unlike many other ethnic groups, Belarusians do not have any particular concentration in the country, but spread out more-less evenly across all regions.

Catholic Church in Belarus

The Catholic Church in Belarus is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The first Latin Rite diocese in Belarus was established in Turaŭ between 1008 and 1013. Catholicism was a traditionally dominant religion of Belarusian nobility (the szlachta) and of a large part of the population of West Belarus.

Ceslaus Sipovich

Ceslaus Sipovich (Belarusian: Чэслаў Сіповіч, Łacinka: Česłaǔ Sipovič) (December 8, 1914 – October 4, 1981) was a bishop of the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church.

He was appointed titular bishop of Mariamme in 1960, and served as Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers from 1963 to 1969. He was also Apostolic Visitor for Belarusian Catholic faithful abroad.

Bishop Sipovich was a significant figure of the Belarusian émigré community in the United Kingdom, one of the members of the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain.

Greek Catholic Church

The Greek Catholic Church refers to a number of Eastern Catholic Churches following the Byzantine (Greek) liturgy, considered collectively or individually.

The terms Greek Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Greek Catholic church and Greek-Catholic Church may refer to:

Individually, any 14 of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches which use the Byzantine rite, a.k.a. Greek Rite:

the Albanian Greek Catholic Church

the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church

the Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia

the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, in Greece and Turkey

the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church

the Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (officially the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic)

the Russian Greek Catholic Church

the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church

the Slovak Greek Catholic Church

the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Any other group of Eastern Catholics following the Byzantine rite:

the Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics

an Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful without proper ordinary, in 6 countries

The Catholic Church in Greece, a Roman Catholic hierarchy following the Latin rite in the country of Greece

Index of Eastern Christianity-related articles

Alphabetical list of Eastern Christianity-related articles on English Wikipedia

List of Belarusian Jews

Presented below are lists of notable Belarusians of Jewish descent, Jewish people born on the territory of present-day Belarus or of full or partial Belarusian Jewish origin.

List of people from Belarus

This is a list of people connected to the Republic of Belarus. It is not limited to persons of Belarusian ethnicity; Russians, Jews, Poles, Vikings, etc., may be found in this list. Over time the Belarusian land has had many rulers, and often its culture was suppressed. Therefore, many Belarusian nationals are known to the world as Poles or Russians.

Music of Belarus

Belarus is an Eastern European country with a rich tradition of folk and religious music. The country's folk music traditions can be traced back to the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The country's musical traditions spread with its people to countries like Russia, Canada, United States, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine [1]. The people of Belarus were exposed mostly to Russian pop music during this period and also after independence in 1991. In 2002, however, Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree requiring 50% of all FM broadcast music to be Belarusian in origin, and since January 1, 2005 the rule was made even stricter (75% of music broadcast each day must be Belarusian). However, it does not regulate the language of the songs, so most of the music which is broadcast is still in Russian.


Nadson can refer to:

Alexander Nadson, Apostolic Visitor for the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

José Nadson Ferreira, Brazilian footballer

Nádson Alves Viana, Brazilian footballer

Nádson da Silva Almeida, Brazilian footballer

Nádson Rodrigues de Souza, Brazilian footballer

Georgii Nadson, Soviet biologist

Semyon Nadson, Russian poet

Polish National Government (January Uprising)

The Polish National Government 1863–64 was an underground Polish supreme authority during the January Uprising, a large scale insurrection during the Russian partition of the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It had a collegial form, resided in Warsaw and was headed by Karol Majewski. This was a normal administrative institution with many ministries and departments.During 1863–1864 it was a real shadow government supported by the majority of Poles who even paid taxes for it, and a significant problem for the Russian secret police (Okhrana). "It organized one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban guerrilla warfare", according to Norman Davies. It became the prototype for the Polish Secret State during World War II.

Religion in Belarus

Christianity is the main religion in Belarus, with Eastern Orthodoxy being the largest denomination. The legacy of the state atheism of the Soviet era is evident in the fact that a large part of the Belarusians are not religious. Moreover, other non-traditional and new religions have sprung up in the country after the end of the Soviet Union. According to the most recent data published in 2011 by the Ministry of the Interior, 48.3% of the Belarusians are Orthodox Christians, 41.1% are irreligious (atheists and agnostics), 7.1% are Catholics (either Roman Catholic and Belarusian Greek Catholic), and 3.5% are members of other religions.

Ruthenian Catholic Church

Ruthenian Catholic Church may refer to:

The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, the formal name of an Eastern Catholic, Byzantine rite church, currently operating in Carpathian Ruthenia (western Ukraine), the United States, and the Czech Republic

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which was formerly known as the Ruthenian Catholic Church or the Ruthenian Uniate Church

The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, which was formerly known as the Ruthenian Catholic Church or the Ruthenian Uniate Church

Ruthenian Uniate Church

Ruthenian Uniate Church (Latin: Ecclesia Ruthena unita; Polish: Ruski Kościół Unicki) is a historical church that existed in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Union of Brest and was majorly dissolved following partition of the Commonwealth with most of the church eparchies (dioceses) being converted into the Russian Orthodoxy.

Following the partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the church majorly dissolved on territory that was annexed by the Russian Empire. On territory that was annexed by the Austrian Empire, the church was preserved but was reorganized as Greek Catholic Church under Galician Metropolitan, today better known as Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Creation of the church led to high degree of confrontation among Ruthenians among most notable was a murder of Josaphat Kuntsevych. The union of Brest that was also perceived as part of Catholisation and Polonization processes contributed to the Khmelnytskyi Uprising.

Viktor Danilov

Viktor Danilov (20 July 1927 – 7 December 2016) was a parish priest of the Greek Catholic parish in Grodno, dean of the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, chaplain, writer in Soviet times and religious dissident.

Yan Matusevich

Father Yan Matusevich (Belarusian: Ян Матусевіч, Jan Matusievič, 24 July 1946 – 2 September 1998) was a biritualist Belarusian Catholic priest, and dean of the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church.

Zhyrovichy Monastery

Zhyrovichy Monastery (Belarusian: Жыровіцкі манастыр) is an Orthodox monastery in Belarus, in the village of Zhyrovichy (Slonim rajon, Hrodna voblast).

One night around 1500 (storytellers and scholars disagree on the year), some herders noticed a wild pear tree radiating light, whose source in the branches turned out to be a jasper oval, about the size of a child's hand, carved with the image of a woman and child and the Slavonic inscription, «More honorable than the cherubim, And more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, In virginity you bore God the Word; True Mother of God, we magnify you». The portrait was recognizable as an Eleousa or Tenderness type of icon, with the child's cheek against his mother's, and the words as the refrain of the Magnificat in the Eastern liturgy.

The monastery was founded in the 16th century. Due to a belief, an icon of Virgin Mary was found in the local woods. A church was built on the place where the icon was found, but soon it was burned by fire and the icon was lost.

Many years later the icon was found again with mysterious imprints on it – presumably those of Virgin Mary’s palm and foot. The icon is considered miraculous and the stone became part of the altar in the church of Exaltation of the Cross. Since then the Zhyrovichy monastery is a major place of pilgrimage in Belarus.

Until 1609 the monastery was Orthodox. Then the monastery was transferred to the Uniate order of Basilian. The original buildings of the monastery were wooden. A major fire occurred in the monastery in 1655. After that the monastery rebuilt already largely made of stone. At the monastery in Zhyrovichy has three temples. Firstly, it is the center and the main temple of the monastery - the Holy Assumption Cathedral, which was built in 1613-1650 years. The cathedral was significantly rebuilt in 1839, so its appearance is not too well reflects its age. The second temple in Zhyrovichy is the church of God Apparitions, built in 1796. The third temple is the church of the Holy Cross, built in 1769. This church is very unique. The fact that it is designed so that the entrance and to the altar lying wide staircase. In this temple made to slowly climb the stairs, stopping at each step to pray. All the temples and churches of the monastery in Zhyrovichy are important architectural monuments of his time, valuable objects of historical and cultural heritage, and prominent landmarks.

The complex of buildings of the monastery in Zhyrovichy includes many more facilities which were mostly built in the 17-18 centuries. Among these buildings there seminary building, residential housing for the monks and seminarians, outbuildings and more. Outside the main territory of the monastery in the village Zhyrovichy located a few objects that although there are separate yet related to the monastery. First of all, it is the bell tower, built in 1828 in front of the main cathedral of the monastery. The bell tower in the village Zhyrovichy be performed under the church and the monastery, it is more not only like a bell tower as another separate temple. Belfry made on such a scale is a very unique attraction of Belarus. In Zhyrovichy there are two saints source.

A copy of the stone image was brought to Rome, where it is revered as the Madonna del Popolo in the Church of Sts. Sergio and Bacchus. In 1730, Athanasius Sheptitsky, Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia, solemnly crowned the Mother of God of Zhyrovichy with a Roman crown blessed by Pope Benedict XIII. Being in the hands of uniats, the sacred image was deeply celebrated by both uniats and catholics. A great reverence to this icon was shown by the kings of Poland. In the 1839, the monastery returned to Orthodoxy.

In 1915, the icon was moved to the crypt of St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow. Smuggled out of the Soviet Union in a shipment of jam, it returned to the Grodno diocese in 1938, missing most of its ornaments. Nowadays the icon is kept in the cathedral of the Holy Blessed Virgin's Assumption, in the monastery of Zhirovichy.

The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church and Roman Catholic Church in Belarus celebrate the feast of the Mother of God of Zhyrovichy on May 7. Russian and Belarusian Orthodox Churches celebrate the feast of the Mother of God of Zhyrovichy on May 20 (May 7 in the Julian calendar).

The Saint Ascension monastery in Zhyrovichy existed even during Soviet times and in 1989 it became a clerical seminary – a highest religious educational institution, accepting entrants from all the countries of the former USSR.

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