The life and work of Georgy Konissky is closely related to Belarus. He was the archbishop of Mogilev, Mstislavl and Orsha. Georgy Konissky’s name is connected with the history of the eparchies of Minsk and Slutsk. He safeguarded the Orthodox of Belarus and was known as an outstanding preacher, philosopher, and writer.
Georgy Konissky (in the secular world Grigory Osipovich) was born in 1717 in Ukraine. In 1743 he graduated from Kievo-Mogilyanskaya Academy. There he worked as a rector and a theology teacher. Georgy Konissky was very gifted. He was a talented teacher who was able to make his classes interesting. According to his contemporaries, Georgy Konissky was considered the best professor of the Academy in the XVIII century after Feofan Prokopovich. In 1744 he took the monastic vows and the name Georgy.
In 1755 Georgy Konissky was appointed an archbishop and moved to Mogilev. In 1757 he opened a print shop, collected many documents about the history of the Orthodox Church and contributed a lot to spread education in Belarus.
In 1765 at the reception of the King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stanislav Avgust he defended the rights of the Orthodox of Belarus. His speech was translated into many European languages as an example of tolerance protection. Georgy Konissky initiated the Theological seminary under Mogilev Spassky monastery.
In 1780 in presence of the empress Ekaterina II and the emperor of Austria Josef II he laid the foundation of the church in the name of sinless Josef. In 1783 Konissky became an archbishop and was appointed a member of the Holy Synod.
Georgy Konissky was known as an outstanding preacher, who strongly criticized human weaknesses and focused on social problems. He strived for spread of Russian written language in Belarus, opposed the Brest Church Union of 1596, and propagandized the idea of consolidation of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian people.
As a public speaker Konissky is known by his speech to Ekaterina II. He gave his speech “Let astronomers to prove …” in Mogilev in 1787. He composed about 80 speeches and sermons of which 78 were published. He is also an author of literature works. His tragicomedy about “Resurrection”, interludes, poems were very popular. Alexander Pushkin highly praised his works: “Georgy is one of the most memorable men of the past. His life belongs to history”.
Georgy Konissky died in 1795. He was buried in Mogilev’s Spasskaya Church that was finished and sanctified in his time. 17 years after Konissky’s death incorruptibility of his relics was acknowledged. August 6 1993 he was canonized as the saint of Belarus.