The Heart 2 Heart Festival is a charitable project launched and carried out by St Elisabeth Convent (Minsk, Belarus) with the blessing of Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavl, the Patriarchal Exarch of Belarus.
This cultural enlightening project takes place annually in different cities all over Europe. The Heart 2 Heart Festival unites people who belong to various cultures and age groups and live in different countries, such as Belarus, Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria, Germany, and Serbia.
The good tradition of mutual understanding and unity of various cultures and generations has been a part of our Convent’s ethos from the outset of its existence. The festival events in various cities across Europe are filled with the same spirit. The programme of the festival will allow you to feel the beauty and richness of the Orthodox spiritual heritage, to learn about traditional Belarusian arts, family holidays, and to discover the daily life of St Elisabeth Convent.
Each festival event is a part of a long and varied story of the life of the Sisterhood in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth and St Elisabeth Convent.
The sisters will give you the opportunity to spend memorable hours in the atmosphere of beauty and care. They would like to share the warmth of their hearts. The festival programme is diverse and interesting for both adults and children.
The Festival programme has at its core the experience of social and missionary outreach of the Sisterhood in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth and St Elisabeth Convent. The sisters of the Convent and the Sisterhood provide support to patients of several hospitals, boarding homes for the less able, a boarding home for children with special needs, a TB clinic, and two charitable shelters for those who found themselves in a difficult situation. Daily visiting care, walks, friendly conversations, and assistance in attending church service.
The sisters’ visits are a source of consolation for the children and adults whose life is mainly spent within the confines of residential care facilities. When these patients prepare for exhibitions of their artworks or rehearse for theatrical performances and concerts, their day-to-day lives are illuminated with a new light, and it helps them to forget about their hardships and illnesses. People with special needs work in many workshops of St Elisabeth Convent together with professionals. The Sisterhood and the Convent have given many people a lot of joy and hope. The sisters and the people in their care learn to feel their own usefulness, to care for their neighbours, and to warm up the world with the warmth of their souls. Please come and see the results of this hard work.
The concerts of the Monastic Choir of St Elisabeth Convent reveal the traditions of Russian church singing based on the unity of life, prayer, and service. The programme of each concert consists of two parts. The first part includes worship hymns sung using ancient chants, marked by their refined and exalted nature. The second part consists of well-known and popular church songs and canticles, the beauty and wisdom of which lies in their simplicity and uniqueness. Total duration of each concert is 45 minutes.
As a rule, the choir performs several concerts during the festival. You will have the opportunity to listen to antiphon (responsorial) singing of the Monastic Choir of St Elisabeth Convent together with the choirs of the parishes where they perform. The programme of the concert tour is usually held in various locations, thereby continuing the unifying practices of the Heart 2 Heart Festival. You can learn more about the concerts of the Monastic Choir from its posters, the website of St Elisabeth Convent, the pages of the Festival on social media, and our newsletters.
The exhibition “Saint Elisabeth: A Life Devoted to Others” displays photos and video related to the life and ministry of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth Feodorovna, as well as the history and traditions of the Convent named in her honour. A memorial evening in honour of St Elisabeth is a special solemn event where the story about the heavenly patroness of our Convent is complemented by a demonstration of a video film and interaction with the audience.
The photo exhibition “Saint Elisabeth Convent: Life and Social Ministry” is dedicated to the creation and the mission of the Sisterhood in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth. A presentation of the social outreach of the Convent deals with its past, present, and future social projects. The sisters will gladly share their experiences with all visitors and respond to all their questions. This exchange of ideas and opinions will prepare a fertile ground for new merciful deeds. These photo exhibitions are open on all festival days.
HOME Inclusive Country Centre project presents an exhibition of drawings that were used as backgrounds for The Colourful Journey animated film released in 2015. It was the first animated film made by the participants of the Studio of Integrative Children’s Animation. The young patients of the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs created short animated films together with other children in the Inclusive Studio of Children’s Art, patronised by our Convent.
A new charitable project of our Convent requires the construction of an inclusive country house for children with and without special needs who live in families and in the boarding home. The opportunity to relax and to find new friends is important for those who spend most of their lives in an isolated environment. Many of the children with special needs have problems with motor function and require constant support and a different approach to the organisation of space.
JOY Inclusive Theatre has been bringing together the patients of the boarding homes for children and adults with special needs and professional actors on one stage for over 10 years. They have staged more than 15 plays but it was with The Little Prince that they appeared on the big stage for the first time. The unchanging director of the Theatre is Alexander Zhdanovich, who is a professional actor and TV host. The sisters of St Elisabeth Convent also take part in the plays of this theatre.
The Little Prince staged by the children with special needs is not just another interpretation of the famous magic story but a real opportunity to see the world in a different way. The story told by Antoine de Saint-Exupery was dedicated to his friend who understands everything, and it is one of the most popular books in the world. The children who will never grow up will perform this play for grownups who used to be children.
This play has been staged in many theatres in Minsk (including the Teatralny Kufar International Festival of Youth Theatres) and in the Holy Spirit Cultural Centre of St Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg. The performances run according to the schedule and take about an hour.
The artists who work in the workshops of St Elisabeth Convent hold open workshop sessions on icon painting and iconography. Orthodox icons are painted in accordance with canons (sets of rules), which were developed for many centuries. Our studios paint icons based on the ancient Russian and Byzantine examples of the 12ᵗʰ-15ᵗʰ centuries. The icons are painted using special mixtures prepared by the icon painters themselves. The creation of an icon calls not only for special knowledge and skills, but also for concentration and focus on the spiritual life. In the ancient times, upon receiving a blessing to paint an icon, the icon painter would spend a lot of time fasting, praying, reading canons and akathists to the Lord, the Mother of God or the saints whose images he was about to paint.
Apart from an icon painter’s introductory speech, the workshop session will include the demonstration of the stages of the icon painting process and videos about the workshops of St Elisabeth Convent. The visitors will be able to learn certain skills and methods of icon painting under the guidance of an experienced teacher. At the master class visitors will be able to learn about the tempera icon painting techniques, the technique of making icons from crushed stones.
This workshop session will take 45 minutes. Open presentations will be held according to the schedule. You can register for the workshop session in advance, too.
The most colourful part of the festival programme is devoted to children. Events for children include the famous puppet theatre “Batleika”, “Traditional Hut” exhibition and master class in straw plaiting. We hope that the entertainment will bring you and your family a lot of happiness and will be interesting to the visitors of all ages.
“Batleika” Puppet Theatre opens the door into the fairy tale. The small theatre and its actors are very close to the audience when telling their stories, just like the characters of street theatres of the distant past.
The Belarusian Hut is an interactive tour that will educate the visitors about the daily life and customs of the Belarusians in the previous centuries. The guests will have the opportunity to taste the delicious monastery pastry and aromatic herbal teas. The children can expect games, amusing contests, informative quizzes and prizes!
Workshop sessions on folk crafts will allow the visitors to discover the traditional techniques of straw-plaiting, willow weaving, painting on glass, wood, alabaster, and ceramics. Additionally, during these workshop sessions you will be able to make a small item in the folk style.
Animated films for children, released by the Video Studio in honour of Saint John the Warrior (St Elisabeth Convent), will provide the young audience with moving and didactic stories narrated by the means of excellent animation. Each cartoon is 3-4 minutes long. The cartoons are shown in Russian with subtitles. They can be shown at any time during the Festival or as a part of the interactive programme for children.
The monastery products fair has always been an integral part of every festival. The good legacy of charity fairs in Russia can be traced back to the Grand Princess Elisabeth herself, and St Elisabeth Convent continues it up to now. The products that preserve the warmth of the artisans’ hands are made in the Convent according to time-honoured technologies with love and prayer. Using the centuries-long expertise of their predecessors and the advances in modern equipment, our workshops make unique masterpieces that are sought-after by connoisseurs throughout the world.
You will be able to see and purchase icons, church supplies and vestments, incense, candles, spiritual books and videos, clothes for Orthodox laypersons, jewelry, souvenirs, stained glass items, handmade ceramics, gift sets, and a whole lot more. You will be able to buy each item. By choosing a spectacular gift for you and loved ones, you will help those who our sisters have been catering for many years.
We invite you to visit the festival and spend time in a friendly family atmosphere, to enjoy the singing of the monastic choir and take part in the convent’s deeds of mercy.
We are heartily waiting for you to come!