To mark the 500th anniversary of Francis Skaryna’s translation of the bible into Belarusian, on the 27th February 2017, the British Library in London hosted an event. Speakers included His Excellency Sergei Aleinik, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus in the UK, Professor Roman Motulsky, Director of the National Library of Belarus, and Dr Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation at the British Library.

   A humanist, physician and translator, Skaryna was one of the first book printers in Eastern Europe. Between 1517-1519, Skaryna published a translation of the bible in twenty-two volumes, before helping to tackle an outbreak of deadly disease in Prague. He later went on to publish further books in Vilnius, Lithuania.

   Speakers at the event focused on Skaryna’s contribution to laying the groundwork for the development of the Belarusian language. Dr Aliaksandr Susha, Deputy Director of the National Library of Belarus went on to outline his institution’s efforts to collect copies of all Skaryna’s manuscripts in the archives of the library. Originals of Skaryna’s extremely rare manuscripts are currently housed in Minsk, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Vilnius, Lvov, London, Prague, Copenhagen and Krakow. 

WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM #25 SPRING 2017  text by Stephen M. Bland