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A holy place: drutsk

"In the year 6509 (1001) in the town of Drutsk, the church of the Virgin Saint was erected. A daily service is held, by God's andHis Pure Mother's mercy, and by God's servants, the Grand Duke Vasily Mikhailovich and his Grand Duchess Vasilisa..."

You can read these lines on the pages of the Drutsk Gospel, translated into our modern language. Thanks to these lines, which are found in the manuscript memorial of the East (written in the Slavonic language), ancient Drutsk celebrated its 1000-year anniversary in 2001. (The Drutsk Gospel is kept now in the library of the Siberian ' department at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a photocopy can be found in the library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.) This is traditionally considered the first mention, in a written source, of the date of the town's founding.

Historians think that life in Drutsk actually began several centuries before the town and the Duke erected the temple. This can be likened to the actions of gardeners who graft a high quality branch onto a.hard, wild tree, but only after it has grown out of the soil and become strong.

However, the Drutsk temple is very remarkable in the history of Belarus: specialists insist that it was the first Orthodox Church ortthe Belarusian territory.

The first argument: God's words — "God's ways are inscrutable" — appear on the ancient settlement. The pendulum of a large and invisible clock advances little by litttej its hands tracing the circle of life.

The second argument. In the town, which accepts and professes the Christian word, faith appears.

The third argument. That faith, "by God's mercy", as h is said in the ancient manuscript, is expressed on the physical plane with a concrete temple.

The fourth argument. Words on parchment list everything that will he done for the descendants.

So, for ages a secret ritual has been performed: word... faith... temple... word. It's very important for people to know their place within the eternal circle and within this religious rite. Once, it was revealed through the performance of ritual circle dances (there are fewer and fewer of them now...).

In the great mystery of life, along its unending rotation (as you can see in the example with Drutsk), nothing stands still: everything passes, everything changes...

For its one thousand year history, Drutsk is a little village, consisting of 110 farmsteads on the left bank of the river Druts and not far from the centre (Tolo-chino) in Vitebschina. Not even the church has survived. But beyond this damage, even if one considers it fatal, one sees not decay, but a fascination which has blos­somed in the land of Drutsk. The banks of the river Druts gave birth to dozens of people with strong will-power who absorbed, passed on; and, today, continue to pass on to their descendants, companions, and students, the Light which gave life and which was generously thrown upon the land of Drutsk and its neighbourhood.

Drutsk gave birth to scientists and writers, artists and teachers, corn growers, military leaders... And even to cosmonauts! It turns out that the parents of the first female cosmonaut on the Earth, Valentina Tereshkova, lived and worked on the ancient land of Drutsk. And Vladimir Kovalyonok, a Belarusian who has already. been in outer space three times, is a Dratsker by origin.

Honouring the Virgin, Drutskers learned to respect the woman: as their sister, \beloved, mother. It is they, women, who raised, loved and inspired the brave war­riors who defended their native land on the fields in Kulikovskoye, Gryunvalds-koye and in other numerous battles. Among those outstanding women are Sofia Drutskaya (Galshanskaya), the founder of the famous princely and royal dynasty of Yagelony, and Bogdana Drutskaya-Sokolinskaya, whose son, Lev Sapega, be-, came the chancellor of the Great Principality of Lithuania.

Today, while looking for recipes for overcoming spiritual and material crises in, our society, the Belarusians pay attention to historical experience. As a rule, in places where traditions of national culture are respected, where the souls of people are en-, lighted by Christian ideals, life is more harmonious; there is less sticky apathy and. displeasure. Why? Because people understand their unique and remarkable places; within the big Circle of Life. And even more, Ihey know and respect its laws - the laws of Life. They live, troubling not only about their daily bread, but also about-their families, their nation and Motherland. They know mat beyond that invisible line, where the earthly way and the earthly circle end, the circle of the Sky begins. And it's higher than that from which Tereshkova and Kovalyonok saw the Earth...

So, in a new cycle of history, after a thousand years in Drutsk, a church is? being built again (or, to be more exact, is being restored). It's the same foundation, from which the annals of the settlement's history began. To aid In its reconstruct tion, a blessing by the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, Alexey the 2nd, the; Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarch of all Belarus' Filaret, was given.

The lines about the restoration of the temple are the last ones in the formidable "Historical Chronology of Drutsk", which was being prepared as an anniversary book by Professor of the Military Academy of Belarus, Colonel Rygor Lenkevich, who is Tolochino-born. And simultaneously, these last words about the church are the beginning of a new cycle of existence for the great Word, which, like the sun­lit Earth, revives faith — and is realized in temples.

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