CNA—A Marian icon revered by Catholics in Belarus was recovered undamaged on Tuesday following a fire at a church in the village where it has been venerated for centuries.
The icon of Our Lady of Budslau was found unscathed on the morning of May 11 amid the blaze at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Budslau, about 90 miles north of the capital, Minsk.
The website of the Catholic Church in Belarus, reported that minutes after smoke was seen billowing from the roof, pastor Fr. Dmitry Dubovik and volunteers entered the church and removed the icon and the Blessed Sacrament.
Belsat TV reported that the church’s roof was destroyed in the blaze which firefighters battled for more than four hours. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
The bishops of Belarus appealed to Catholics May 11, following a visit to the site, to support the reconstruction of the late Baroque church, also known as the National Sanctuary of the Mother of God of Budslau.
“We, the Catholic bishops of Belarus,” they announced, “call on all the faithful to join together in prayer and possible assistance in the restoration of the shrine in Budslau, built by our ancestors with great love for God and His Blessed Mother.”
“May the Mother of God of Budslau help us to restore her house in Budslau as soon as possible. May our Blessed Mother and Patroness of Belarus continue to take care of our homeland, the Church in Belarus, and all of us, may she save and protect from all evil and lead to her Son.”
Our Lady of Budslau
Catholics are the second-largest religious community after Orthodox Christians in Belarus, a country of 9.6 million people bordering Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
An annual celebration in honor of Our Lady of Budslau was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018.
In its citation, the United Nations’ cultural agency said: “Since the 17th century, every year on the first weekend of July tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over Belarus and other countries have come to Budslau to participate in the celebrations in honor of the Budslau icon of Our Lady, with some making the pilgrimage on foot.”
“The icon, the patroness of Belarusian people, is known for many miracles and Budslau is recognized as the place where, according to legend, Our Lady appeared to believers in July 1588.”
“Elements of the celebration include priests welcoming the pilgrims, Masses, a night procession with the icon and candles, a youth prayer vigil, and hours of prayer to the Mother of God.”