Dudy Village: 200-year-old Catholic church

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Dudy Village: 200-year-old Catholic church

The Dudy village is situated in the Iwye district, the Grodno region, which earlier was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and now is a part of the Republic of Belarus.

The first documented mention of the village dates back to the 16th century. Back then, the Dudy village was the centre of the Dudy starostwo, in the Oshmyany powiat (county), the Vilna voivodeship (province). In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the szlachta (the nobility) could obtain some estates for merit to the fatherland. Thus, Grand Duke Sigismund Vasa presented Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, one of the most prominent Belarusian military commanders, with the Dudy starostwo.

In 1608,when visiting the Dudy, Karol Chodkiewicz noticed that the church needed to be repaired and it was he who donated money for its restoration.

In 1665, the Dudy starostwo was passed to the Rečyca stolnik Jan Casimir Gorbachevsky and later to his son.

In 1709, the Dudy starostwo belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s marshalak Maryan Volovich.

In the course of time, the staroswo became the property of the Zyenkovichys. They used to be a very prominent family in Belarus. At the end of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century, there lived the Bishop of Vilna Mikhail Zyenkovich. He was a very religious person. He rebuilt the Catholic cathedral and built the house for Catholic priests in Vilna. Moreover, he was the founder of the St. Josef Nicodemus Catholic Church and the St. Lazarus Military Hospital. Mikhail Zyenkovich founded several churches in Belarus.

The bishop’s nephew was also an outstanding figure of the Catholic Church. He consecrated more than 50 churches. Also, he supported charity communities and was the first person in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania who made a stand against masons.

In 1772, the Zyenkovichy family built a new church on the same place where the church, earlier repaired by Karol Chodkiewicz, was located. The church was preserved till nowadays and today it is more than 240 years old.  The church is dedicated to Saint Virgin Mary.

There is an ancient churchyard around the Catholic church. During the Soviet period (1922-1991) the authorities closed the church and decided to raze the churchyard and the church to the ground. But the locals managed to defend their sacred place and didn’t let the Satanists into the church. Back then, during the period of atheism, in 1983, the locals were able to bring the church back.

The ancestors of  Belarusian people had to come a long way, which was full of hardships and sufferings, so that today people could live in an independent Belarus.