Visit to Church of Venerable Optina Elders in Minsk
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko lit a Christmas candle in the Church of the Venerable Optina Elders in Minsk on 7 January.
The head of state was welcomed by Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. The church service was also attended by pupils of the local Sunday school, parishioners.
Aleksandr Lukashenko congratulated everyone on the kind and long-awaited holiday of the Nativity of Christ. "Thank you for the invitation. I really love visiting small wooden churches. They are, it seems to me, the heart and soul of the Belarusian people," the President said.
He wished health and happiness to everyone, especially children. "It things become difficult for you, don't worry. We have everything to help you. If you are pro-active, then, I am sure, you will be healthy and also happy. I wish all the best to you and your children," the head of state wished.
Aleksandr Lukashenko added that it would also be right to address greetings and kind words to all the compatriots - not only Orthodox Christians, but also Catholics, Jews and Muslims. “They are our people. It will be right if we say kind words to them on this day too,” said the head of state.
The President gave an icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to the Church of the Venerable Optina Elders. The icon is made in the unique woodcarving technique called as Sozh skan. This is a unique style of applied art, which appeared in Belarus and has no analogues in the world. Craftsmen make ornamental patterns using thin wood chips with the help of tweezers. Different types of wood give the ornament a variety of shades.
For his part, Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, presented the head of state with the painting “The Church of the Venerable Optina Elders of the Parish of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Minsk” and the book “History of the Revival of the Holy Trinity Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery”.
Responding to the remarks of the Belarusian President where he opined on a number of topical issues in the life of the country, on the events in the region and in the world, Metropolitan Veniamin said: “A lot has been said. It gives answers to many questions of today’s life. On behalf of the church, I want to say that we are doing our best to cooperate with the state in various fields.”
“Of course, we can do more. And we will try to do more, we will put forward initiatives,” the leader of the Belarusian Orthodox Church said.
In his words, on Christmas you can draw some parallels with the current events. “Back then the mankind was in a difficult situation, it was living in darkness. Moral principles required a new revival and inspiration. The Savior came to this world and showed an example of infinite love and compassion for the mankind,” Metropolitan Veniamin added.