Research Visit to the Belarusian Library and the Francis Skaryna Museum in London
With the support of the MOST project, Olga Furs, Senior Researcher of the Department of Slavic Studies and Language Theory at the Center of Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus visited the Belarusian Library and the Francis Skaryna Museum in London, United Kingdom. The library offers the largest and most significant collection of publications related to Belarus in Western Europe. Its collections contain more than 30,000 publications and a large number of archival documents. Among the most valuable publications, there are a fragment of the 1 Samuel by F. Skorina, the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1588, the first editions of M. Bogdanovich, Yanka Kupala, M. Goretsky and others.
I would like to express my gratitude for the assistance in organizational matters to the Secretary of the Library Council, the researcher of the University of Westminster Alexander Gerasimenko. I also thank Candidate of Biblical studies, Teacher of Biblical Studies at Gytrop College of the University of London Karolina Matskevich and Master of Canon Law Father Sergey Stasevich for help in working with archives and catalogs, as well as for fruitful discussions on the problems of Belarusian translations. The Board of Trustees of the library expressed interest in further academic visits of Belarusian scientists and the desire to support them with the help of a research program.
In the archives of the library, we found many interesting documents relating to translations of the Bible into the modern Belarusian language, such as the correspondence of the translator Jan Stankevich and Cheslav Sipovich (1967), the great epistolary heritage of the priests Cheslav Sipovich and Lev Goroshko, etc. These documents have not been presented to a wide audience and still not investigated. The typewritten translation of the four Gospels found in the archives, made by Father Lev Goroshko in Paris in the 1940s, as well as the "Latin-Greek-Church Slavonic-Belarusian and Belarusian-Latin religious dictionary" (Rome, 1959) have great value as well.
While visiting the library, it is impossible to miss the wooden Greek-Catholic Church of St Cyril of Turov and All the Patron Saints of the Belarusian People built next to the library in 2016. This church is one of the important centers of attraction for representatives of the Belarusian diaspora and British researchers of Belarusian culture; every Sunday there are divine services in the Belarusian language. In 2018, the church won in the “Best Religious Building” category at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam.
I express my deep gratitude to the “MOST” project and personally to the manager Ekaterina Lipnitskaya for assistance in organizing the visit, which expanded my research opportunities and allowed me to establish contacts with experts who are engaged in the study of Belarusian biblical studies abroad. We have identified ways to collaborate on mutually interesting research topics. Following the visit, scientific publications will be prepared that will allow the Belarusian scientific community to get more closely acquainted with the library’s collections.
Candidate of Philology