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Spirit of past centuries: Uniqueness of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at Military Cemetery

A cemetery of Minsk military hospital appeared in the first half of the 19th century and became the last place for many military officers and soldiers. Soldiers of Kolomna Infantry Regiment No199 and Serpukhov Infantry Regiment No120 were among them. These people were in the thick of the war between Russia and Turkey in 1877.

Gennady Sheykin, historian:
There was a war of liberation of Bulgaria against Ottoman rule. It was a murderous war. As a part of Infantry Division No30, the soldiers of Kolomna Infantry Regiment No199 and Serpukhov Infantry Regiment No120 fought twice to conquer Plevna.

After the victorious battle, it was decided to perpetuate the memory of the officers and soldiers that lost their lives on the battlefield during the Russo-Turkish war. The building of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral began here in 1896.

A new Orthodox Church appeared in Minsk on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of victory in the Russo-Turkish war. Today the fact that it’s a monument of the events that happened more than 100 years ago is proved by memorial stones near the entrance where the names of the war dead are inscribed in golden letters.

Pavel Boyankov, archpriest, churchman of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
Names of the soldiers that gave their lives in the beginning of the war. Russian soldiers sustained great losses. Many of them died in a military hospital. Then many officers who took part in that war must have decided that it was important and honorary for them that their ash would be buried next to their soldiers. Along with officers and generals. I can even call this place a landmark of Belarus.

Another historical object of worship is being repaired now. It’s a field wooden church where soldiers from Kolomna Infantry Regiment prayed at the time of liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish yoke.

The main object of the temple’s worship is an altar wall. Bones of higher echelons are kept behind it.

Gennady Sheykin, historian:
Here you can also find a grave of a retired lieutenant-general Stephen Kurchev. As he was a person of considerable prominence in a province and in Minsk, dignitaries of Minsk and of the province came to his funeral. During the funeral Pulikhov attempted the life of the Governor-General Kurlov who delivered an order to shoot down a workers’ demonstration. Ivan Pulikhov was caught, convicted and executed by hanging on the gates of Minsk prison.

He was buried on Storozhevskoye Cemetery. Ivan Pulikhov became a hero and an idol of the new country after the revolution in 1917. It’s interesting that his bones were taken exactly to Military Cemetery. In those time it stopped being a place where only officers and soldiers were buried.

Gennady Sheykin, historian:
The cemetery stop being a military one after Kolomna Infantry Regiment No199 and Serpukhov Infantry Regiment No120 were disbanded. People began to bury ordinary people like teachers, writers and doctors here.

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral could survive the years of the Soviet regime by some magic. Church service was stopped only for a few years.

Pavel Boyankov, Pavel Boyankov, archpriest, churchman of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
Church service was stopped in 1938 because the last churchmen were arrested. There were no one to perform divine worship. The temple was opened in July, 1941. It has been working continuously since that day.

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral became a shelter for lots of Minsk residents in the time of German occupation.

Pavel Boyankov, Pavel Boyankov, archpriest, churchman of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
People were hiding from bombing and shellfire in a church basement. Pokrov Chapel was built in memory of it. There is a legend that’s confirmed by some people. According do it, a bomb struck the roof and fell in the temple but didn’t explode.

The temple was renovated in post-war decades. Red bricks from Latvian factory that was delivering its product to the Moscow Kremlin was used for it.

Pavel Boyankov, archpriest, churchman of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
Our temple is a witness of more than 100 latest years and of four generations of Orthodox Minsk residents. If you remember our recent past, there were only two working Orthodox churches in Minsk with the population of near 2 million residents. The Holy Spirit Cathedral at Liberty Square and the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. That’s why it’s possible to say that this is the place were almost half of Minsk residents were christened.

There are lots of Orthodox objects of worship in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. You can find the Image of Edessa, an icon of the Minsk Mother of God and an icon with the rest of the relics of the Saint Sophia of Slutsk.

Traditions are strictly followed here. Once per four years there are divine worships in the temple in memory of soldiers that died during the Russo-Turkish war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit of past centuries: history and uniqueness of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at Military Cemetery