RELIGION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY OF BYELORUSSIANS (Wyznanie a swiadomosc narodowa Bialorusinow)
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Byelorussian lands and their inhabitants were Christianized by the Eastern Church. It is hard to imagine the history of the Byelorussian nation without outstanding figures connected with the Orthodox Church. One of those first canonized in the Ruthenian land was the founder of the Holy Saviour Monastery, the Polatsk duchess - Euphrosyne. Holy hierarchs (bishops) constitute another group of people with everlasting contribution to the history of the Byelorussian nation. Holy monks, hierarchs, lived in monastic centers, where theological and philosophical thinking developed. The Uniate denomination prevailing in Byelorussia in the XVII-XVIII c. did not infuence the national identity of Byelorussians. The Union could only function in the Commonwealth if it retained its clear cultural and ritual distinction. None of denominations existing in the XIX c. Byelorussia facilitated Byelorussian national rebirth. Pointing to the Uniate Church as a source of the national rebirth is a myth. This Latinized in the XVIII c. denomination, became an object of rivalry between the two main Christian denominations: the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. The Russian Orthodox Church, viewed by Byelorussians as a powerful tool of Russification, was not propitious in the Byelorussian national rebirth. The Catholic Church, despite the fact that the majority of pioneers of the national rebirth belonged to it, did not contribute to adding Byelorussian character to the national religious life, either. The Catholic Church remained the Polish Church, adverse towards Byelorussian national ideas.We have no evidence that Protestant or any non-Christian denominations facilitated the development of the Byelorussian national movement.
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