Zhirovichy Monastery
Settlement \ Area
Zhyrovichy, Hrodna region
Build time
XVI c.
The distance from Minsk
up to 250 km

Male Monastery in Zhyrovichy is one of the spiritual centers of Orthodoxy in Belarus. It includes several churches, a bell tower, a seminary, residential and utility buildings. The first wooden church was built on this place in the 15th century. According to the legends, the miraculous icon of the Mother of God was found here by shepherds on branches of a wild pear tree. But this church burned down in the 16th century. Later a stone church was erected instead, and it was a start of a male Orthodox monastery. However, another fire happened in 1655. Surprisingly, but the miraculous icon wasn’t affected. Zhyrovichy monastery was not always the Orthodox one. In the early 17th century, it was transferred to the Uniates and only in 1839 came back to the Orthodox Church.

The center of this architectural ensemble is the Saint Dormition Cathedral. It combines the features of baroque and classicism, and its blue dome can be seen from far away. This temple houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of Zhyrovichy which is the greatest relic of Belarus. It is the smallest icon of the Mother of God in the world. It was carved in jasper in the form of a small oval. In the same building of the Saint Dormition Cathedral there is a small adjacent winter St. Nicholas Church. It is a temple with an amazing mosaic floor, which creates the impression of an early Christian church in a cave. St Epiphany Church is in the center of the monastery. It is an architectural monument of the late Baroque. Notice a mosaic image of the Epiphany of Our Lady at the top of its façade.

And on the highest point of the landscape you can find the Holy Cross Church. There is a copy of Holy Stairs inside, the same as in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. Before the crucifixion Jesus Christ was raised in the palace of Pontius Pilate for the trial via such stairs. Nowadays, pilgrims make their way to the top of the stairs praying on their knees. The fifth temple of the monastery is the St. George's Church. It is located in the cemetery. Its construction is related to the epidemic during the Northern War. In 1710, only one monk survived and buried more than 600 people on his own. Later a new church was built in the cemetery.

Photo: Nastia Quende