This File Last Updated: 2002/04/12

Frantzisk Skaryna

(Francis Skoryna; 1490 - 1552)

[ Postage Stamp: Frantzisk Skaryna, Polacak, 1997 ]

Prominent 16th Century Belarusian Bible Translator and Printer

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"Skoryna was born about 1490 in 'the glorious city of Polock' into a family of well-to-do merchants and was baptized into the Greek Orthodox faith. Polock was at that time one of the wealthiest cities in the country, paying to the state treasury an annual tax of 400 kop hroshej, while the city of Mensk (present day capital of Belorussia) paid only 60. Francis received his education first in Vilna, then in Cracow, Prague, and Padua, and, after extensive travel abroad, returned to his native land with a Medical Doctor's degree. His vernacular translation of the Bible was reprinted in Vilna by the brothers Mamonich, who set up the first printing press there in 1525. Skoryna subsequently abandoned medicine and dedicated himself entirely to translations of religious texts into 'the simple Russian language.' His purpose was to make them more comprehensible to the common man, 'since even many of the clergy were no longer able to understand Church Slavonic very well.' "

Source: Belorussia: The Making of a Nation, by Nicholas P Vakar (1956), page 53.

[ page from Skaryna's 'Ecclesiastes' ]

page from

Skaryna's Ecclesiastes

click image to view larger image

Article: Czech Republic: Renaissance Belarusian Scholar Honored

By Walter Stankievich

[ Postage Stamp: Frantzisk Skaryna, Vilnius, 1997 ]

"Prague, 31 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A statue of Francishak Skaryna, prominent 16th century Belarusian Bible translator and printer, is today being ceremoniously unveiled at a place near the Hradchany castle in Prague."

"Educated at the Cracow (Poland) and Padua (Italy) universities, Skaryna became famous when he translated and printed 23 books of the Bible in old Belarusian vernacular. Skaryna subsequently continued his publishing and printing in Vilna, today's Vilnius, then a center of Belarusian culture. He is considered one of the first printers in Eastern Europe. He traveled widely throughout Europe, but finally settled in Prague, where he died."

"Skaryna's contribution to the development of Belarusian culture and language has been recognized by both Western and Eastern scholars."

"The unveiling of his statue is being attended by a large official delegation from Belarus. It includes the current and former ministers of foreign affairs, Vladimir Syanko and Piotr Krauchanka, and the Minister of Culture Alyaksandr Sasnouski. The worldwide Association of Belarusians is represented by its chairwoman, Hanna Surmach. The ceremony is to be preceded by a conference at the Charles University in Prague on Skaryna's role in the 16th century Renaissance Europe."

Source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc. All Rights Reserved.   used by permission.

[ Postage Stamp: Frantzisk Skaryna, Prague, 1997 ]

Article: Festivities on the 480th
Anniversary of Printing the Bible
by Francisak Skaryna [in 1997]

"Festivities on the 480th anniversary of printing the Bible by Francisak Skaryna, are to take place in Prague on October 30 and 31 [1997]. The celebration itself started there as far back as September 5."

"Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Nina Mazai said at a September 25 news conference that participating in the festivities will be delegations from Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Among the organizers are the Prague Mayor's Office, the Francisak Skaryna Foundation, the Directorate of the Prague Eparchial Department, the Czech National Academy and the Prague University."

"The Belarusian organizing committee for the festivities and a delegation to the Czech Republic were formed under the patronage of the Belarusian State Committee on the Press. Festivities will also take place in other towns in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Ms. Mazai said."

News Article: Ministry of Culture Believes Statue of Francisak Skaryna Should Be Placed in Front of National Academy of Sciences in Mensk

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Original content and overall form ©1996-2004 by Peter Kasaty : All Rights Reserved. Last Updated:  2002/04/12
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