Church of Saints Simon and Helena
Settlement \ Area
Minsk, Minsk region
Build time
XX c.
The distance from Minsk
up to 50 km

Church of Saints Simon and Helena is known all over Belarus mostly as the Red Church. With its location in the city’s center, it is a recognizable symbol of Minsk. Although in the beginning of the 20th century the district of modern Independence square was almost a suburb. At the end of the 19th century Minsk had only one big Catholic Church of St Mary, which could not accommodate all the believers. As the number of inhabitants in the town was eventually increasing, a need for another catholic church remained. Edvard Vajnilovich, a nobleman and a businessman from Minsk, became the main initiator of the construction of a new church. But the reasons for building this temple were sad. Several years earlier, two children of Vajnilovich – a son Simon and a daughter Helena died.

The grieving father wanted to perpetuate the memory of his children. He decided to contribute to a building of a church devoted to their patron saints.Construction of the temple was finished in 1910. The miniature shows us the church and its surroundings right after its opening. The temple was built in the Neo-Romanesque style with elements of Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau. Due to the fact that it was totally built of red brick, the citizens became to call it the Red Church. Two smaller towers are constructed in the memory of Simon and Helena, the third one is comparatively high and symbolizes the parents’ sorrow.

The church was not always used for its original purpose. In 1932 it was closed down, the Soviet authorities even wanted to demolish it. But the good acoustics of the church made it possible to house here a theatre. Later the church was transformed into the House of Cinema. Only in independent Belarus the Catholic Church received an opportunity to return the temple and to restore the interiors. Nowadays you can visit also a gallery, a theatre and a public library on the ground floor. Not so long ago the remains of the famous contributor Edvard Vajnilovich were reburied in the church.