This chapter is a slightly enlarged and modified version
author’s article “Magdalena Radzivil and the Greek Catholic Church”,
first published in Belarusian Chronicle, No.17, London 2001, pp.17-22,
and reprinted in Belarusan Review, Vol.15, No.1, Prague 2003, pp.24-27.
Among the distinguished representatives of the Belarusian national and religious renaissance at the beginning of the 20th century Princess Magdalena Radzivill (1861-1945) by no means occupies the least prominent place. It is unfortunate that her life and work have not until now attracted the attention it deserves of Belarusian historians.
Magdalena Radzivill was born in Warsaw, but her roots reached deep into the Belarusian heritage (2). Her father, Jan Zavisha (1820-1887), was a well-known archaeologist, who excavated and studied artefacts from the Stone Age in the districts of Ihumien and Navahradak, and took part in the International Archaeological congresses of Venice (1871) and Budapest (1876) (3). He belonged to those representatives of leading Belarusian families, who regardless of any prevailing polonisation remained patriots of their native land and played an important role in the study of the history and culture of Belarus. Such were the two brothers, counts Constantine and Eustace Tyshkievich, poet Uladyslau Syrakomla, historian Honoré Kirkor and others. Among themselves they usually spoke Polish, although they were fully familiar with the Belarusian language, which they used in communicating with the country-folk. Some of them, such as Alexander Jelski, endeavoured to write in Belarusian.
A significant proportion of the Zavisha estates lay within the counties of Minsk and Ihumien (now Chervien) in central Belarus, centring on their country mansion of Kukhtsichy, some five miles from Uzda. There Magdalena spent a large part of her childhood. And there it seems, not without some paternal influence, she conceived a love for Belarus and the Belarusian people which later determined her consciousness of national appurtenance. Together with Magdalena’s own orientation, her relationship with her mother, who was Polish, was not particularly happy: “I myself from childhood could appreciate the distinction which my mother made between me and my sister, who was her little pet, regarding which I felt a resentment against such favouritism. One had to put up with it, but the bitterness remains (Letter to Fr Andrej Tsikota, 27 July 1929) (4). Perhaps this factor also played a part in Magdalena’s national consciousness. It is curious that nothing is known of her elder sister Eva having any kind of interest in Belarus.
In 1881 Magdalena was married to the Polish Count Ludwik Krasinski. She received by way of dowry the Zharnouki estate (also in Ihumien county) together with more than 60,000 acres of land (5). By 1895 Magdalena was left a widow with a little daughter Louise. She travelled widely through Europe and then in 1906 she was married for a second time to Prince Nicholas Radzivill, nineteen years her junior. He was a swashbuckling young man who among the Poles had the reputation of being a “Russophile”. He received his primary schooling with the Jesuits, after which he continued his secondary education at the prestigious Corps des Pages in St. Petersburg. As a young man of eighteen, he volunteered for service in the British Army and took part in the South African (Boer) War (1899-1902). When in 1904 the Russo-Japanese War broke out, he again joined up, this time in the Russian Army. His marriage to a wealthy aristocrat, old enough to be his mother, met with the disapproval of the upper echelons of Polish society. This may well have accounted for the final break between Magdalena Radzivill and her husband on the one hand and the Polish establishment on the other. By happy coincidence in that same year 1906 there began to appear the first legal Belarusian paper Nasha Dola, and shortly afterwards Nasha Niva, and the Belarusian national revival began to grow in strength. At about this time Magdalena Radzivill began ever more frequently to assume the role of supporter and benefactress of the Belarusian movement. In 1912 she gave 20 thousand roubles (a considerable sum at that time) to the Belarusian Publishing Society (Belaruskaie Vydavetskaie Tavarystva) in Vilna which was formed on the basis of the editorial board of Nasha Niva
(6). The society published also books by Belarusian authors. An important event in the history of Belarusian literature was the appearance in 1913 of the book of poems Vianok (The Wreath) by a young and promising poet Maksim Bahdanovich who died prematurely of consumption four years later at the age of 26. The book was published with the financial support of Magdalena Radzivill, and the publishers, to show their appreciation, placed on the title page an imprint of a swan, the coat-of arms of the Zavisha family (7). More books with the swan appeared in 1914, including those by Taras Hushcha (Yakub Kolas), Yadvihin Sh., Maksim Haretski and Kanstantsyia Buila. The activities of the Belarusian Publishing Society were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, and the subsequent occupation of Vilna by the Germans.
The Princess also helped financially another Belarusian publishing venture, the “Zahliane sontsa i u nasha vakontsa” (Also in our window the sun will shine) in Petersburg. It was founded and directed by the well known Belarusian scholar, Branislau Epimakh-Shypila, deputy head of the Petersburg University Library and lecturer in Greek at the Roman Catholic Theological Academy (8).
Married life seems to have had little influence on the character of Nicholas Radzivill. From 1912-1913 he was involved in the Balkans in the ranks of the Bulgarian Army, first in action against the Turks, then against the Serbs and Greeks. The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 found him in Germany. By way of France and England he found his way home, where he at once enlisted in the Russian Army. But he was not destined to campaign for long: on 17th November (Old style) 1914 he was killed in East Prussia. His body was taken to Kuhtsichy for the funeral which took place on 26th November. On its way it stopped in Minsk, where Belarusians paid the prince their last respects. The Belarusian paper Bielarus reported that “In Minsk Belarusians placed on the coffin a wreath with the following inscription: ‘To Prince Nicholas, son of Belarus, from Belarusians’; another inscription read: ‘May you finds rest in your native forgotten land’ ” (9). According to Alexander Ulasau, one of the pioneers of the Belarusian national revival, one wreath was laid by the well known Belarusian poetess Tsiotka (Alaisa Pashkievich) (10).. In Kukhtsichy the funeral service was conducted by Father Alexander Astramovich who in his graveside oration in the Belarusian language said that the Prince “loved the simple Belarusian language and contributed towards its ressurgence and the renaissance of the Belarusian people. The death of the Prince is a great loss for the Princess. It is also a loss for all those dwelling on the estate, and for the whole Belarusian nation. In the person of the late Prince, Belarusians have lost a staunch defender of everything pertaining to their revival, lost him at the time when the star of a new and better life has appeared, when the sun had begun to shine in at our window” (11).
Father Astramovich (1878-1921) was the parish priest of Anapal near Minsk. He is better known as the poet Andrej Ziaziula. To his pen we owe the poem “Bozha, shto kalis narody” (”O God, who once divided men into nations”), which for many years served as the Belarusian religious hymn. The fact that he, and not the parish priest of Uzda to which Kukhtsichy belonged, conducted the funeral service bears witness not only to the Belarusian patriotism of the dead Prince, but also to the national orientation of his widow (11).
Soon after the outbreak of the war the Princess Radzivill founded in Minsk the Belarusian Catholic Committee “Mercy” to help families of Belarusians who were called up to the Russian Army (12). She was also active on Belarusian Committee for aid to war refugees.
Her other project was more ambitious. This is what the paper Bielarus writes about it on 18 December 1914: “Her Highness Princess Radzivill (widow of the prince Nicholas Radzivill who was killed in war) for a long time has tried to buy back from the city (Minsk — A.N.) the large post-Dominican church together with former monastic buildings in order to restore it to the Catholics. The Princes has already made an agreement with the city representatives, who initially demanded 400 thousand roubles but came down to 350 thousand, and for this price the Princess is buying this edifice. In 1865, after the closure of the monastery of Dominican Fathers (by Russian authorities — A.N.), the building remained empty, and later was converted into army barracks. The agreement of the Princess with the city must be confirmed by the Governor. After that the city will build army barracks in another locality, while the monastic buildings will be restored by Her Highness, as well as the church which will have a filial status; (the buildings) will house various charitable institutions under the direction of Her Highness and a Catholic priest” (13)..
Unfortunately the higher Russian authorities refused to give their approval to the project. In practice it did not matter very much, because two years later, in February 1917, a revolution broke out, which marked the end of the imperial Russia and a new period in the life of Belarusians and other non-Russian peoples who at one time or another were forcibly incorporated into what was known as the “prison of the nations”.
At that time Magdalena Radzivill lived mainly at Kukhtsichy or in Minsk. Those who knew her relate how the doors of her home were always open to Belarusians. In 1917-1918 the Princess’s residence in vul. Zakhar’ewskaia in Minsk was a meeting place for Belarusian activists. Incidentally in 1917 she established Belarusian school for children of the peasants who lived on her estates. The first teacher was Paulina Miadziolka, who was well known in Belarusian national circles. Her radical and markedly left-wing views did not endear her to the princess. Their relationship was a stormy one and ended in a breakdown (14). Miadziolka was succeeded in 1918 by Stasia and Mikhalina, sisters of the poetess Kanstantsyia Buila (15). Also in 1918, Magdalena Radzivill made Belarusian the official language in the administration of her estates. She did this apparently at the suggestion of her chief administrator, Justin Murashka (16). Unfortunately by the end of 1918 the princess was forced to leave Belarus before the advance of the Russian communist troops.
A deeply religious and committed Catholic, Magdalena Radzivill understood the importance of nationally conscious clergy and the need for a wider use of the national language in ecclesiastical life. She kept in touch with Belarusian priests, the number of which, in spite of difficulties was steadily growing. Among these priests she had a particular regard for Fr Francis Budzka (1884-1920) and a Professor at the St. Petersburg Catholic Theological Academy, Jazep Bielahalovy (1883, died in Soviet captivity c. 1928). She also knew Fr Fabian Abrantovich who, after completing his studies at Louvain University, in 1914 was appointed professor at the Mahilou theological seminary, which was then functioning in St. Petersburg or, as it was called from August 1914, Petrograd. When a number of young Belarusian priests and students at the Petersburg Catholic Theological Academy (Lucian Khvietska, Adam Stankievich, Andrej Tsikota, Victor Shutovich, Vincent Hadleuski and others) founded their own society, the princess gave them money to establish a Belarusian library (17)..
In 1913 a Belarusian Catholic weekly Bielarus appeared in Vilna. The initiative of publishinhg a Catholic paper came from two priests, Francis Budzka and Alexander Astramovich (the poet Andrej Ziaziula), but the editorial board consisted entirely of laymen. This was most probably done in order to avoid conflict with the strongly pro-Polish Catholic church authorities in Vilna, whom no one could accuse of friendly attitude towards Belarusians. Thus the first editor of the paper was the ex-seminarian Anton Bychkouski. He was later replaced by another ex-seminarian and the future Greek Catholic priest Baliaslau Pachopka. According to Pachopka’s son Peter, princess Radzivill was helping financially his father, while he was student at the Vilna seminary (18). Like many Belarusian publications Bielarus was experiencing serious financial difficulties. Here is what Father Adam Stankievich, who had access to Pachopka’s memoirs, has to say about it: “After the appearnace of the first issue in 1913 some people of good will sent their subscriptions and donations, which sufficed for the publication of 3 or 4 issues, but soon there remained nothing in the kitty and the future of the paper was in danger… Somehow in that time God sent help: Father Budzka gave something, also Father Astramovich, and in the end princess Radzivill became interested in the paper and paid systematically all debts of Bielarus until its closure, i.e. until the arrival of Germans in Vilna in 1915? (19).
Thanks to the financial assistance of princess Radzivill a number of religious books were published in Belarusian, including the first serious prayer-book ‘Boh z nami’ (God is with us, Vilna 1915) by Balaslau Pachopka, and also A shortened Bible by I. Schuster (in two editions 1914 and 1917), translated into Belarusian by Father Francis Budzka (20).
When the bolsheviks occupied Belarus in 1918, Magdalena Radzivill was obliged to leave that country for ever. After a brief sojourn in Warsaw, she went to Lithuania and then to Germany where she first settled in Hermsdorf in Silesia, and later in Godesberg not far from Cologne. In a letter to Fr A. Tsikota she explained why she was unable to remain in Poland, which then incorporated Western Belarus: “I often reproach myself with having a tranquil existence when war is raging in my Belarusian homeland (”w mojej bialoruskiej Ojczyznie wrze wojna”). But although in good health, I have become so weak that I would not be of any use there, even if my nerves could stand having to deal with those revolting citizens of the Kingdom (z przebrzydlymi koroniarzami [i.e. with the denizens of the Kingdom of Poland, as distinct from Belarusians and Lithuanians who were the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy] – A.N.)” (Letter, 27th July 1929).
Her material circumstances were greatly altered: “It seems that your reverence does not take into account my financial position. Most of what I owned is now in the hands of the bolsheviks across the frontier. What little I possess in Poland is even further reduced by exceptional taxes, gifts for the Fatherland, requisitions and also because of a dishonest administration. I have considerable debts, so that what remains of my income, after allowing for interest on loans and pensions payable to my former servants and their widows, I am left with barely enough to live on in a convent in the country. Please do not expect anything from me, for I have nothing to give” (Letter to Fr A. Tsikota, 22nd January 1929).
Nevertheless, regardless of difficulties, the Princess did not cease helping the Belarusians, although not on the same scale as previously. Thus, in February 1928 she sent 1000 Polish zlotys to Fr Abrantovich who was preparing to leave for Manchuria, and 400 German marks in August, just before his departure. On the 5th January 1929 she sent three hundred zlotys to Fr Tsikota, asking him to apply it to “some urgent need of our people”. There were other gifts – 300 German marks on 6th November 1929, and 500 marks on 8th July 1930.
But supplicants did not always get what they asked for. In August 1928 Fr A. Tsikota asked for help in publishing Fr V. Hadleuski’s “History” – omitting to specify that this was a “History of the Old Testament” and not a political history of Belarus, – and in helping towards the requirements of a newly founded community of nuns in Druia The Princess’s reply was clearly unexpected: “History is a subject which depends on the opinions of the author… It is clear to me that Fr Hadleuski and I do not share the same point of view, and for that reason I will not contribute towards his publication. Insofar as the nuns’ convent is concerned, it may well become the ornament of the Church, though this is something which time will tell; but for the moment I would rather give help to a community already in existence and doing useful work, founded some 80 years ago…” (Letter, 13th August 1928).
The only contact which the Princess had with her homeland was by letter, but many of those who had once benefitted from her generosity forgot about her. One of the few, who kept in touch with her, was Balaslau Pachopka, former editor of Belarus. He was married, with a large family, and became a priest of the Eastern (Byzantine) rite in 1926. Bishop Zygmunt Lozinski of Pinsk appointed him to the Greek-Catholic parish of Babrovichy in Palessie. Magdalena Radzivill out of her meagre resources helped him to build a new church which was consecrated in 1932 (21). This did not however prevent her from adopting a critical attitude to some of the modalities of his pastoral work.
During the years from 1927 to 1931 the Princess kept up a relatively lively correspondence with Frs Fabian Abrantovich and Andrej Tsikota. After 1931 contact between them ceased.
Ecclesiastical life in Belarus, particularly the question of Church Unity played a large part in the thoughts of Magdalena Radzivill. She did not hold high hopes that the Polish Roman Catholic Church would support any rapprochement between Orthodox and Catholics: “There are moments of sober reflexion when I understand that any sacrifice for the Faith, even if in Japan, is a good thing, which may result in blessings for the country which is near to our heart. If the Pinsk seminary (concerning which I have no doubt) will contribute towards the betterment of the Latin clergy, then by the same reason it may attract the Orthodox to the bosom of the Catholic Church; but there are moments when in a Latin priest I see a Polish fanatic (’ale przychodza chwile kiedy za lacinskim ksiedzem widze fanatyka Polaka’)” (Letter to Fr Fabian Abrantovich, 18th May 1928).
In general she took a somewhat critical view of the Catholic Church in Poland: “Throughout Europe civilisation came by way of the Church. She taught people how to think, and not to sit in church all day. But in Poland, apart from piety of the most rudimentary kind, i.e. attending divine service, observing fastdays and participating in the sacraments, she taught the people nothing” (Letter to Fr F. Abrantovich, 25th April 1928).
Among other instances, although not strictly relevant to the present theme, in order the better to understand the character of Magdalena Radzivill, it is worth considering her thoughts on anti-semitism: “I take the view that anti-semitism is an evil thing, if only because the hatred of the race to which she belonged cannot have been pleasant to our Blessed Lady; and also because only those Jews who were in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion of the Son of God, incurred a curse upon themselves and their descendants. For that however, we cannot blame the Jews who were living then in other parts of the Roman Empire. I hope I am not uttering any heresies” (Letter to Fr F. Abrantovich, 15th February 1928).
With these kinds of principles it would have been difficult for Magdalena to remain in a country where anti-semitism was beginning to flourish, as well as the growing influence of fascism in political life, together with its anti-Christian ideology. In 1932 she left for Switzerland, where she lived out the remainder of her life.
Magdalena Radzivill was pained by the division of the Church, which came about in Belarus as a consequence of the suppression of the Uniate Church in 1839, and took the view that the responsibilty for this tragedy lay largely with the representatives of the Belarusian upper classes, who abandoned their people: “I am always distressed by the thought that, in abandoning the Eastern rite, my forebears did a fearful wrong to Catholicism, in that by joining the stronger Church for secular advantages, they consequently weakened the ‘Unia’, which stood in greater need of protection, and which as a result of the defection of its educated classes, lapsed into an inequality from which it had no strength to contend with schism. I take the view that on us, the descendants of the Uniates, who betrayed our national Faith for reasons of snobbery, lies the responsibility for the abandoning of Catholicism by some, and dreadful sufferings by other simple people who remained faithful to the original teachings of SS. Cyril and Methodius” (Letter to Fr F. Abrantovich, 18th May 1928).
In her dreams of a revival of the ‘Unia’, the Princess was unable to applaud the methods adopted by some of the new “apostles” of that ideal: “Honour demands that the representatives of the Truth should not adopt, in order to proclaim it, those methods adopted by heretics (’do jakich sie uciekaja kacerzy’). I refer to one particular Belarusian parish priest, who naively congratulated himself on bringing schismatics back to the Church, by charging lower fees for religious services than the Orthodox priests. This was a heroic gesture on his part, since the poor fellow has a large family, but this sort of propaganda promises little: the Orthodox priest only has to lower his own fees, and he will win back his erstwhile parishioners.” (Letter to Fr A. Tsikota, 9th April 1928).
At the beginning of the 20th century the idea of the “Unia” had many advocates amongst those working for a Belarusian renaissance. Among the priesthood were Adam Stankievich, Jazep Hermanovich (the poet Vintsuk Advazhny), Kanstantyn Stepovich (the poet Kazimier Svaiak) and others. In the Catholic newspaper Krynitsa in the 1920’s there regularly appeared a “Corner on the Uni”. In the mid-1920s references to the Unia took a noticeable turn for the worse. The reason was that the charge of the Union movement in Western Belarus had been entrusted to the Papal “Pro Russia” Commission. The name, as the French Jesuit Bishop d’Herbigny, Chairman of the Commission, explained to the Polish Episcopate was in fact “Pro Russia Ecclesiae unienda” or “For the union of Russia to the Church”. One of the establishments for the training of future missionaries for Russia was the Jesuit convent in Albertyn near Slonim, founded at the end of 1924. Belarusians could not but be wary of the subjection of their interests to Russians, and they viewed with suspicion these Polish Jesuits decked out as Russian priests. It was clear to them that this was not the way to implement the restoration of the Union in Belarus (22).
Princess Radzivill responded on this count with her characteristic refusal to compromise: “I must confess that I have no confidence in some fantastical advancement of the Unia by Polish Jesuits masquerading in Eastern garb (’polskich Jezuitow maskaradujacych w ubraniu wschodnim’). I note that the true welfare of the Unia is served by those Belarusian priests who are wholeheartedly devoted to it and are ready to endure all things for it even until death (’Sadze, ?e prawdziwy interes Unii wymaga Xiezy bialoruskich, z serca do niej przywiazanych i z zamiarem wytrwania w jej do smierci’); but I am perturbed by a system of Latin-rite temporaries committed to the Unia for a period of two or three years. I have received a letter from one Balaslau Pachopka, a married man with a family, whom Bishop Lozinski appointed as a parish priest. He has apparently the consciousness of being a Belarusian but, being very poor, he has for material reasons to work towards the polonisation of his parishioners, and a polonised Uniate adopts the Latin rite. None of this inspires any confidence in the Orthodox, and I dream of the time when a genuine Uniate, ordained by a Uniate bishop after studying at a Uniate seminary will devote his life to this goal. Our people are not such fools as to be taken in by Latin posturers (’Nasz narod zbyt madry by sie dac oszukac przez komediantow lacinskich’). I do not believe that a Latin can genuinely adopt the Eastern rite; he may, like Fr Abrantovich work for it, but it will always be for him something alien… And do not our churchmen [of the Latin-rite – A.N.] at the bottom of their hearts think of the ‘Unia’ as a bridge, across which the schismatics can be led back into the bosom of the Latin Church?…” (Letter to Fr A. Tsikota, 29th July 1929).
It is worth reverting to the main idea of the princess, namely that for a rebirth of the ‘Unia’ they must have their own priests whole-heartedly dedicated to the ideal of Christian unity. And for that it is indispensable that they should have their own Uniate seminary, where the future apostles of the ‘Unia’ can receive the appropriate training.
Ïðàöÿã "THE MYSTERY OF THE DIAMOND NECKLACE"
(1). This chapter is a slightly enlarged and modified version of the author’s article “Magdalena Radzivil and the Greek Catholic Church”, first published in Belarusian Chronicle, No.17, London 2001, pp.17-22, and reprinted in Belarusan Review, Vol.15, No.1, Prague 2003, pp.24-27.
(2). To date the following more substantial publications devoted to Magdalena Radzivill have appeared in Belarusian: I. M. “Kniahinia Magdalena Matylda Radzivil”, Studentski Klich. No.1(15), Munich 1947, pp.8-12; H. Pikhura, “Kniahinia Magdalena Radzivil”, Bozhym Shliakham, No.2, London 1965, pp.8-9; St. H., “Da uspaminau ab kniahini Mahdalene Radzivil”, Bozhym Shliakham No.6, London 1965 p.19; Mikola Bahadziazh, “Ia - belaruska”, Belaruskaia Minuushchyna, No.1, Minsk 1996, pp.37-39; Khursik Viktar, Bely lebedz u promniakh slavy: Mahdalina Radzivil. Minsk 2001, 112 pp. The author of the first article (now virtually unobtainable) Justin Murashka worked in 1917-1918 as steward on the estate of Princess Radzivill in Kukhtsichy. The articles of G. Pichura and St. H. were recently reprinted in Belaruskiia relihiinyia dzeiachy XX stahodzdzia, Minsk-Munich 1999. pp. 350-353.
(3).Belaruskaia Entsyklapedyia, T. 6, Minsk 1998 s. 493; Entsyklapedyia historyi Belarusi, T. 5, Minsk 1996, s. 393 (The date of birth of Jan Zavisha is incorrectly given as 1852).
(4).The copy of this and all other letters, quoted in the present work, are to be found in the MSS archive collection of the F. Skaryna Library in London, File “Magdalena Radzivill”. Magdalena was able to converse in Belarusian, but in correspondence with Belarusians or Lithuanians she made use of the Polish language.
(5).Slownik geograficzny Krolewstwa Polskiego. Tom XIV, Warsaw 1895, p. 745.
(6).Tsarik Gavriil, “Vospominaniia chlena belorusskogo kruzhka v Vilne”, Neman, No.11-12, Minsk 1998, p.230.
(7).Lastouski V., “Mae uspaminy ab M. Bahdanovichy”. Kryvich, No.1(11), Kaunas 1926, p.66.
(8).See: Semashkevich R., Belaruski litaraturna-hramadski rukh u Petsiarburze. Minsk, BDU, 1971, p.119.
(9).Bielarus, No.49, Vilna, 4.12.1914, p.6.
(10).Ulasau Aliaksandr, “Dni zhytstsia”. Shliakham hadou, Minsk, Mast. lit., 1990, p.175.
(11).Bielarus, No. 52, Vilna, 25.12. 1914, p.1.
(12).Bielarus, No. 38, 18.9.1914, p.4.
(13).“Pa-Daminikanski kasciol u Minsku”. Bielarus, No. 51, 18.12.1914, p.5.
(14).Miadziolka Paulina, Stsezhkami zhytstsia, Minsk, Mast. lit., 1974, pp.93-112.
(15).Builo I., “Po proidennym dorogam”, Holas Radzimy, Minsk 1997, Nos 18, p.6; 19-20, p.6.
(16).I. M., “Kniahinia Mahdalena-Matylda Radzivil”, Studentski Klich, No.1(15), Munich 1947, p.9.
(17).A. Stankievich, Bielaruski chryscijanski ruch. Vilna 1939, p. 66.
(18).Poczopko Piotr, Kaplan unicki rodem z Wilenszczyzny. Jablonna, 1999, p.7.
(19).A. Stankievich, op. cit., p. 70.
(20).In a letter of 22 January 1929 to Fr A. Tsikota the princess wrote: “I am amazed that there is no Old and New Testaments in the Belarusian language, for I gave to the late Fr Budzka of blessed memory a sum of money to cover the costs of such a publication, and received from him a copy of these books” This related doubtless not to the Bible, but to Schuster’s “History” (Shortened Bible).
(21).P. Poczopko, Kaplan unicki…, p.29. The Church in Babrovichy (Ivatsevichy distr.) dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and St. Paraskeva (1932) is no longer extant.
(22).If the truth were told, the Fathers of Albertyn themselves appreciated the anomaly of their position, and from the early 1930s, without abandoning their pro-Russian stance, attempted to diffuse their pastoral and didactic work among the Belarusians in their own native language. However, this realisation came too late, and the Belarusians viewed them with suspicion. Fr Adam Stankievich gave a critical appraisal of their work: “The Uniates also made, and are making attempts at Belarusian religious activity in the didactic field. This work is being directed by the Polish Jesuits. For some years they had been publishing a monthly (in the Cyrillic alphabet) “Da Zluchennia”, and now they are producing another monthly, “Zluchennie” in the Latin script. However their work has been always insincere and offered almost nothing by way of religious culture to Belarusian people”. (A. Stankievich, op. cit., p. 211).
© Fr Alexander Nadson, 2004
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