Orsha, Vitebsk Province, Belarus, September 18, 2023
On Friday, September 15, celebrations were held in the Belarusian city of Orsha on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Holy Theophany-Kuteinka Monastery.
Celebrations began with the Divine Liturgy in the monastery’s Holy Trinity Church, led by His Eminence Metropolitan Benjamin of Minsk together with His Eminence Archbishop Dmitry of Vitebsk and Orsha, His Grace Bishop Eusebiy of Drutsk, vicar of the Vitebsk Diocese, and local and visiting clergy, reports the Belarusian Orthodox Church.
At the Small Entrance, the monastery’s abbot Igumen Nil (Podobed) was awarded the right to wear a jeweled cross.
Met. Benjamin read a prayer for peace during the Liturgy.
Following the dismissal, Abp. Dmitry welcomed the faithful who attended the service and presented Met. Benjamin with a copy of the Orsha Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. In turn, Met. Benjamin also gave the monastery an icon of the Mother of God.
The anniversary celebrations then continued with an open-air concert and an academic conference.
The Holy Theophany-Kuteinka Monastery was founded in 1623 by Hieromonk Joel (Trutsevich), who became the first abbot. The monastery takes its name from the first church to be built, which stands near the Kuteinka River.
The church, a masterpiece of Belarusian wooden architecture, was consecrated in June 1635 by St. Peter (Mogila). In a letter he later he wrote, he mentioned, “200 brothers imitating the life of the angels” there.
Over time, the monastery became the largest spiritual and cultural center in Belarus and was awarded the status of lavra. The monks made a significant contribution to the enlightenment and preservation of the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Slavic peoples.
The monastery flourished in the first half of the 17th century, also operating a school for the brethren and a printing house.
In 1655, as a result of the Russo-Polish War, most of the brethren left. The monastery later suffered significant destruction during the War of 1812.
After the 1917 revolution, the monastery was turned into a farm and the buildings were allowed to fall into complete disrepair or were dismantled for bricks. The Holy Trinity Church was adapted as a storage facility.
The modern history of the monastery began in 1990 when a parish community was registered there. It has been active as a monastery again since 1992. The Holy Trinity Church was restored in 1995. On October 10, 2014, the Orsha Icon of the Mother of God was transferred to the monastery.
The video below shows scenes from around the monastery: