History of Red Church of Minsk

History of Red Church of Minsk

The idea to build a new Catholic church in Minsk appeared at the end of the 19th century. By that time, only two similar architectural monuments were preserved. These monuments are the Minsk Holy Spirit Cathedral and the Church of Holy Trinity. However, the idea wasn’t supported by the authorities.

Vladimir Denisov, archivist of the National Historical Archive of Belarus:
Once again, the idea to construct a new temple appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. In the archive, there are a lot of documentation concerning the project of the church.

The construction of the church began in 1905 under the supervision of nobleman Edward Woyniłłowicz. His children, 12-year-old son Simeon and 19-year-old daughter Elena both died of tuberculosis within a short period of time.

In this connection Woyniłłowicz decided to donate a huge sum of money, today it is about $12 million, to construct a church in commemoration of their children in Minsk.

Vladimir Denisov, archivist of the National Historical Archive of Belarus:
He asked famous Polish architect Tomasz Pajzderski to build the church. However, Tomasz Pajzderski couldn’t legally work on the territory of the Russian Empire because he was a citizen of Prussia. Then Edward Woyniłłowicz thought of something very smart. He just left out the name of the Polish architect from all the blueprints.

During the construction of the Catholic church, Tomash Pajzderski died, and his work was finished by another architect from Warsaw Henry Gai. The construction of the Church of Saints Simon and Helena was ended in 1910.

The Church is very symbolic. A 40-meter tower represents the parents’ grief. Some time ago, people could see this tower from all places of the city. The other two smaller towers represent the deceased children.

Today, the Red Church is famous not only for its exquisite design, but also for its relics that are valuable for believers.

The Church has also a large library with 50,000 books. The library has been there since 1908.

The Red Church was eviscerated in 1923, and in 1932, it was closed. In the 1950s, the authorities wanted to demolish the church and build there a cinema or a shop. The Red Church remained untouched. However, it was no longer a church. It became the Republican Cinema House. Only at the beginning of the 1990s, Catholics managed to get their church back.

The beatification of Edward Woyniłłowicz, founder of the Church of St. Simon and Helen, took place in April, 2016. It was the first beatification that was held in Belarus.

The Red Church is going to be renovated, and we hope that the masterpiece of architecture will start a new page of the history in the near future.