Jesuit College in Polotsk
The Jesuit College in Polotsk (Latin: Collegium Polocense) was a college (equivalent to a secondary school) in Polotsk, Belarus, then part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later Russian Empire. It was established in 1580 and continued to function until 1820 when Jesuits were banished from the Russian Empire.
Polish King Stephen Báthory captured Polotsk in 1579 during the Livonian War and invited Jesuits to the city in hopes to lessen the influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Jesuits established a college, modeled after the Jesuit Academy in Vilnius, in 1580. Its first rector was Piotr Skarga. A faculty of philosophy was added in 1649 and a faculty of theology in 1737.
After the first partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, Polotsk became part of the Russian Empire. That saved the college from the suppression of the Jesuits as Russian Empress Catherine the Great did not follow papal decrees. After lobbying by Joseph de Maistre, the college was elevated to an academy (equivalent to a university) in 1812 by Tsar Alexander I of Russia only to be closed eight years later when Alexander I banished the Jesuits from the Russian Empire and closed their schools. Academy's library, which held up to 60,000 volumes, was dispersed among various institutions in Eastern Europe.
The Polotsk State University and the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw, established in 1998, both claim historical heritage of the Polotsk College. In 2005, former buildings of the college were partially reconstructed and transferred to the Polotsk State University.
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