“Hrodna is predominantly a Catholic city, maybe 78% per cent of people are Catholics here, there are a few Orthodox, and a few Pentecostals too”, I hear from a Hrodna-born young man, Siarhey.
In the past Hrodna (Grodno) was very diverse religiously and that still remains. I managed to spot a few Catholic and Orthodox churches, a Lutheran kirche and a synagogue. “My great grandfather told me that in the past in Hrodna there were no Catholics, no Orthodox, and all attended the Protestant church”, Siarhey adds.
The Museum of History of Religion remains a must-to see place for me. The authorities founded it in 1977, and yes, back then, known as the Museum of Atheism, which makes sense. Wound be great to see the museum’s display at that time. The Museum of Atheism was located in the the Sts. Boris and Gleb Kalozha (now Orthodox, in the past Greek Catholic) Church, only in the 1990s moved to the present location.
The museum presents history of religions in Belarus. I assumed primarily with references to Catholicism and Orthodoxy. What was interesting to see to what extent the exhibition presented the “Protestant element” in the history of Belarus. More about what I have seen in another post.
The area inside the museum looks appealing. The first impression – a tidy place with a nice garden. “Nado platit’ za fotografii!”, I hear from a lady cleaning there, who makes sure we do follow her instructions. Surprisingly, I had to pay for taking a picture in the nice garden in front of the museum. Also, they charged me for taking a small leaflet with information regarding the museum. Probably managers of the museum did not come up with a better way of promotion of the place.
Interestingly, today Hrodna remains a home for two Lutheran communities. The oldest
church dates back in the 18th century, whereas the second was raised only recently in the other part of the city, as I learned. Apart from Hrodna, I have not seen a Lutheran church anywhere else in Belarus. As I understand in the past people associated Lutheranism exclusively with German ethnicity, now some Belarusians choose to join the church. Others just praise the Lutheran church for organising beautiful organ concerts.
Hrodna leaves very good impressions. The city seems vibrant and a bit more homey than Minsk. A few large foreign tourist groups just proved than the place offers a lot in terms of sightseeing. For all those interested in religion, like myself, it is worthwhile spending in Hrodna at least couple of days to discover fascinating historical and religion-related sites.