In the 17th century, the village of Biaroza belonged to the Sapieha, a powerful magnate family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, who founded a fortified monastery and a palace in the village. In 1648, the monastery was presented to the Carthusian monks who came from the Italian town of Treviso and settled in the monastery.
The cornerstone of the monastery was laid in 1648 by the monastery's founder, Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, in the presence of bishop Andrej Hiembinski and the nuncio of Rome, Jan de Torres. Historians state that the monastery's architect was Giovanni Battista Gisleni, who worked for 40 years in the eastern Commonwealth (now Belarus). Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, the son of the Commonwealth magnate Lew Sapieha and member of the powerful Sapieha family, was the main sponsor of the project.
The monastery was to be built on the place where a wooden cross was found in the forest. Therefore the monastery was also named after the Holy Cross. The monastery was consecrated in 1666, but work on construction of the church continued until the 18th century. As a result it became one of the most beautiful among the monastery churches of the Rhine province of the eastern Commonwealth (now Belarus).
The monastery was also expanded and became one of the biggest charterhouses in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The monastic order (the Carthusians) gave their name to the second part of the village's (which grew into a town) name (in Polish, the Bereza Kartuska; Russian, the Beryoza-Kartuzskaya).
In addition, the monastery had large living premises, a pharmacy, a botanical garden, and an economic infrastructure. A palace of the Sapiehas was built close to the monastery.
During the Great Northern War, the monastery housed a conference held by King August II of Poland and Tsar Peter I of Russia.
During its 200 year long existence the Biaroza bonastery was the owner of a large territory. The main sources of the monastery's income were land operations and gifts of local szlachta and magnates. The monastery acted as creditor, and monopolised the local trade of salt, wine, honey and bread.
In 1706, the fortified monastery was put under siege and then taken by assault and looted by the forces of Charles XII of Sweden. Two years later, Swedish forces again looted the area, which resulted in almost total depopulation of the town. It was also damaged by the armies of Alexander Suvorov in 1772, during the Partitions of Poland.
After the Partitions of Poland and the annexation of Belarus by the Russian Empire, the number of monks shrank to six persons and the monastery's huge treasures were robbed. After the closure of Carthusian monasteries on the territory of Poland, the Biaroza monastery remained the last active monastery of the order on the territory of the former Commonwealth.
Russian authorities made efforts to close down the monastery of Biaroza. In 1823 the monks were claimed to have taken part in the uprising led by Tadeusz Kościuszko thirty years earlier, but no evidence of this could be found.
After the November Uprising (1831), Russian authorities closed down the monastery. The monastery's infrastructure was given to the army. The city of Biaroza-Kartuskaja (Carthusian Biaroza) was renamed Biaroza-Kazionnaja (State-owned Biaroza).
The premises of the former monastery were used by Russians as casernes. After the next Polish uprising (1863) Russians started destroying the walls of the monastery and building casernes out of the monastery wall bricks. Poland regained independence after World War I, and in the aftermath of the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1920) the territory of Belarus was split between Poland and the Soviet Union. In the 1930s the former Russian barracks were rebuilt by the Polish authorities and adapted into a prison for political prisoners. After the reunification of West Belarus and East Belarus within the framework of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, a Soviet military unit was placed within the walls of the monastery. This led to the further degradation of the site.
At the beginning of the 1990s the monastery was placed on the list of the historic architectural heritage of Belarus. There was a project of renovation and restoration of the Biaroza monastery, however so far little progress was made.References:
The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way. The column is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.
Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863, St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague and St. John of Nepomuk, whose following was very strong there as well.
In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas, in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano, who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university. Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.
The column also houses a small chapel inside with reliefs depicting Cain's offering from his crop, Abel's offering of firstlings of his flock, Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood, Abraham's offering of Isaac and of a lamb, and Jesus' death. The cities of Jerusalem and Olomouc can be seen in the background of the last mentioned relief.