(K. Brent Tomer),
THIS year, the 500th anniversary of his “95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, Martin Luther’s legacy is being re-examined. A cacophony of events, ranging from exhibitions to church services, will consider the global impact of the Reformation. But 1517 is worth remembering for other reasons, too. In that year, Francysk Skaryna published a book of Psalms in his native Belarusian: it was one of the first to use the Cyrillic script. Only two years later, he had translated large swathes of the Bible. Beyond the borders of Belarus, where monuments, streets and university buildings bear his name, Skaryna is one of the forgotten talents of the age.
Born in 1486 in Polotsk (then part of Poland-Lithuania), Skaryna lived an outstandingly rich life. As a young man, he went to Italy and became the first Eastern European to graduate as a Doctor of Medicine at Padua. Over a 40-year career, Skaryna variously tried his hand at medicine, philosophy and horticultural design. He also travelled widely, visiting Russia and spending time with the Duke of…Continue reading