St. Elisabeth Convent in Minsk
Picture of Nicolas


BY 2020.04.29 Corona Virus in Belarus: Holy Elisabeth Monastery is closed for Visits.

The monastery was sharply criticized by human rights defenders and independent media in Belarus for not observing the safety of nuns and parishioners.

St. Elisabeths Convent Closed

Holy Elisabeth Monastery in Minsk has been closed to visitors for two weeks since Thursday. Information on this is available on the monastery website. Thousands of believers came to the monastery’s temples for Easter, despite reports of coronavirus infection among nuns and priests.

“Divine services in our monastery will be performed by monks without parishioners,” the message appeared on the monastery’s website.

The confessor of the monastery still claims that to deprive the parishioners of the opportunity to come to the temple is “absolutely unreasonable.”

On Wednesday, the Russian BBC Service published material that described the state of affairs in Belarusian religious institutions, including the Minsk St. Elisabeth Monastery, which remained open to believers, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

St. Elisabeth Monastery is an impressive monastery complex on the outskirts of Minsk, which includes eight churches and several workshops. Thousands of people work in its various divisions. On the territory of the monastery, 130 nuns live there constantly.

The monastery helps drug addicts and the homeless and successfully engages in Commercial Activities.

Coronavirus in Belarus: surge in incidence, open temples,
and classified information

The closure of the monastery in quarantine was confirmed by the press secretary of the Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC – exarchate as part of the Russian Orthodox Church) Sergey Lepin, who had previously admitted in an interview with the BBC that the safety of the sisters and visitors of the church was not ensured.

Earlier, the monastery was sharply criticized by human rights defenders and independent media in Belarus for not observing the safety of nuns, monastery employees, and numerous parishioners.

“Get together and ask for collegiate help”

Thousands of parishioners took part in Easter services in the temples of the monastery.

“Services are going on, and those sisters who have no symptoms should be obedient – to deliver food and perform work in the monastery,” said BBC human rights activist and theologian Natalya Vasilevich.

There were reports of sick nuns, including themselves.

An internal quarantine was introduced for sick people in the monastery “in connection with the SARS epidemic,” but later, it became known that both sick and healthy people take part in services and have a meal in the common dining room.

The confessor of the monastery, Archpriest Andrei Lemeshonok, denies reports of an outbreak of coronavirus in the monastery, calling the coronavirus a punishment for atheism (!?).

Andrei Lemeshonok St. Elisabeth Convent Minsk

Sick words from a pathological liar and mentally disabled individual

Despite the decision to close the monastery, his spiritual guardian continues to insist on the importance of “conciliar prayer.”

“Not isolation, not shutting oneself from one’s neighbor, but rather, gathering and asking collectively for help in the fight against this disease,” – writes on the website of the monastery Andrei Lemeshonok.

“When people come to the temple, they come to Christ, not to the priest, and not even to the bishop. They come to pray for their neighbors. And to deprive them of this, I think, is absolutely unreasonable,” the priest adds.

The exact number of sick nuns and their well-being remain unknown.

Despite the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, no quarantine was introduced in Belarus, and information about infections at various facilities and enterprises comes mainly from volunteers and human rights defenders.

The Belarusian Ministry of Health reports only general figures for the country without commenting on the foci that alarmed social networks and volunteers.

Neither the monastery itself nor the press service of the BBC began to report information about the epidemiological situation in the monastery.

“There is not and will not be information on the number of patients with coronavirus in the monastery”, said the representative of the Belarusian Church.

According to the Ministry of Health, on April 28 in Belarus, more than 12 thousand cases of coronavirus diseases were detected. 79 patients died “with a number of chronic diseases with detected coronavirus infection,” the ministry website says.

President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has repeatedly spoken out that there is no coronavirus infection in the country.

Alexander Lukashenko and Andrei Lemeshonok at St Elisabeth Convent
Nicolaos AA Cheropoulos
Father of Anthoula and Alexandra
Stockholm, Apr. 2020
Reviewed Oct. 2023