From the History of Our Church
The Brest (in Annals – Berest’e) land was a part of the Turov Princedom up to the middle of XII century, where already in 1005 there was the Orthodox diocese. From the middle of XII century the Orthodox Christians of the Berest’e land had been overfeeding by Vladimir-Volynsk bishops who from time to time had the titles of “the bishops of Vladimir-Volynsk and Berest’e”. In Berest’e by the St. Nicholas Church (at the territory of the modern Brest fortress) there was the bishop’s residence (according to the documents “Brest Russian Pulpit”). Here in 1590, 1594, 1596 there were Synods of the West-Russian bishops. The history didn’t spare the first St. Nicholas Church. It was the Cathedral of the town Brest that had been moved due to the building of the fortress.
On the place where today the Church is standing, in 1885 a wooden church in honour of St. Nicholas Miracle-Man was erected. In 1894 it was planned to building a parish school attached to the Church, but all the cherished dreams were broken by a fire. On 4-th May 1895 the fire destroyed a half of the town including St. Nicholas Church. The only icon of St. Nicholas Miracle-Man survived the fire by miracle, and that gave hope to the believers for the resurrection of the Church. On the day of the Church’s Holiday – on 9-th May (according to Julian Calendar), after having prayed before the icon survived, the parishioners decided to build a new stone church. But the Orthodox St. Nichols’ Community didn’t have means enough for realization of the planned. Therefore in 1897 the Community appealed to all the Orthodox adherents for help, and already in 1903 the building was started. The considerable means the Russian tzar Nicholas II gave personally. Pecuniary aid was given by the Orthodox believers of Serbia and Bulgaria. Some of the means was endowed by seamen and officers (St. Nicholas is considered a Patron of the seamen), and by the participants of the Russian-Japanese War (in Battle of Tsucima quiet a lot of Byelorussians took part).
The building of the St. Nicholas Church, which architecture belongs to the pseudo-Russian or Russian-Byzantine style, was finished by 1906. Very soon the Church won love of the habitants of Brest, and it had been visited by the soldiers of the Brest garrison as there early Liturgies were served. So in those years like today, the
St. Nicholas Church had been widely engaged in charity. In 1909 there was organized an orphanage for homeless children attached to the Church. Also the help to invalids and beggars had been given. In 1911 the parish school attached to the Church started to work. F. Konstantin Znosko (p.2, p.3) was the first Dean of the stone Church. He took active part in building of the Church and served there till 1914. In the years of the First World War he served in 8-th Finnish infantry regiment as a regiment priest, and was rewarded with orders and Golden Pectoral Cross on the Georgian Ribbon. After having returned home he became the Dean of the St. Nicholas Church again. The son of f. Konstantin – Mithrofan Znosko-Borovskiy (14.08.1909 - 15.02.2002) is known better. He took the way of serving God in hard times but he never regretted the decision he had undertaken. In 1935 he started his pastor’s service as a parish priest in a village Omelanets, and later he became the Dean of the St. Nicholas Church, teaching God’s Law in Brest Russian gymnasia at the same time. In the years of the Polish occupation, in Soviet times and during fascists invasion he had never been thinking of his own profit, but he had been always taking care of virtue and ecclesiastical encouragement of his congregation. During the Great Patriotic war risking his life he helped orphans, patients, sick people and Jews. In spite of this in July 1944 Mithrofan Znosko was forced to live Motherland. According to God’s Will he appeared in the U.S.A. where he continued his pastor’s activities, and later he became a Bishop in Boston. Mithrofan Znosko left his creative heritage – memoirs “Chronicle of One Life” which is a priceless source of the information in history, culture and religion of our region. The inscription on the fence of the St. Nicholas Church reminds of pious family.
The year 1961 was the tragic one for the parishioners of the St. Nicholas Church, when in times of so-called “Khrushchev’s thaw” the new persecutions against religion started. On 4-th November 1961 there was the last Liturgy, and then the Church was destroyed and closed for the believers for many years. Even after that the party leaders couldn’t submit the crosses on the building. Therefore with the purpose of reinforcement of the anti-religious struggle the region leaders decided to destroy the crosses. But it was not so easy to realize that sacrilege. The believers did all possible to prevent the defilement of the Church. Only a few weeks later the authorities could realize the planned with the help of helicopter. For the long years the Church building was used for the necessities of the State Archives of the Brest region. In 1989 the crosses on the cupolas of the St. Nicholas Church began to shine again, and the believers could hear invocatory peal of the Church bells. Thanks to the troubles of the Dean of the Church f. Michal Satsiuk (1951-1998) and the parishioners the Church was restored to life, and on 7th January 1990 there was the first Divine Liturgy. 18 February 1990 the Church altar was sanctified by Minsk and Slutsk Metropolitan, Patriarch’s Ekzarch of the Whole Belarus Filaret, by the Brest and Kobrin Bishop Konstantin, and by the Lublin and Chelm Bishop Abel. The Church diary may tell about the difficulties that the parishioners met when return the Church. The removal of the Archives to another building had been delaying on various pretexts, the restoration works were to be done over again several times, but thanks to God’s Will all the troubles had been overcome. In 1998 the miracle happened in St. Nicholas Church: the icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Man began to radiate a warm. Many believers connect this fact with the murder of the Dean of the Church f. Michal who is buried inside the fence beside the Church. The icon appeared in the Church in 1990. It was transferred to the Church from the Museum of The Saved Art Values, where it had found after the confiscation at the custom-house. Recently one more miracle has happened to it: by occasion the icon of St. Nicholas Miracle-Man has been saved from a theft by malefactors. Since 1998 till now Archpriest Piotr Romanovich has been the Dean of the St. Nicholas Church, priests Aleksander Gurpa, Piotr Mirochnik, Valery Gritsuk, archdeacons Igor Rudko and Michal Manchuk have been helping him. Three choirs take part in the services: The Professional Choir (The Great Choir, a prizewinner of different International Competitions of the Choral Music), the Choir, or Small Choir, and the Children’s-Youth’s Choir. The Church is extraordinary beautiful from outside and inside, but the greatest value for the parishioners have the Christian objects of worship, that are situated in the Church: a Part of the Wooden Life Giving God’s Cross where Jesus Christ was crucified, Fractions of the Relics of the Great Martyr and Curator Panteleimon, Part of the Stone of the Calvary from Jerusalem, Sacos of the Consecrator Feodosiy from Chernigov and others. During last years the priests and parishioners of the St. Nicholas Church have made a lot to turn the Church to one of the most beautiful buildings of the town Brest. But the greatest achievement is an increase of the quantity of the people who consider the Church their own. Every year the number of the Orthodox believers who come to the services at the St. Nicholas Church has been steady rising. And this is a true indication of the spiritual revival of our society.
In 1995 and 2001 the St. Nicholas Church was visited by Moscow and the Whole Russia Patriarch Aleksiy II.The Minsk and Slutsk Metropolitan, Patriarch’s Ekzarch of the whole Belarus Filaret came for the centenary celebration of the Church.
22 May 2006 the Church celebrated its centenary, and the Head of the Byelorussian Church, the Minsk and Slutsk Metropolitan, Patriarchﾒs Ekzarch of the Whole Belarus Filaret came with its apostolic visit to divide the spiritual joy of the believers. During the service he had been assisting by the Highly Right Reverend, Pinsk and Luninets Archbishop Stefan, and Brest and Kobrin Bishop Joann.
There have been used the materials from the article by Valentin SMAL “The Ancient Cupolas” (the newspaper “The Evening Brest”), and other Archives materials.