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Continental market gets spiritual

14 November 07 06:58 GMT

Belfast's continental market often boasts some exotic wares, but this year there will be another novel addition.

Two nuns from Belarus will be among the traders for the now traditional Christmas fair.

They will selling traditional handmade goods to raise money for their charitable work back home.

Preparations are already being made at City Hall for the Christmas market, which runs from 21 November to 18 December.

The nuns are from the Orthodox Monaster Novinki in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, where they work with adults and children with mental and physical disabilities.

Sister Tatiana said in 1994 the first Sisters of Mercy had volunteered to take care of patients at the Republican Psychiatric Hospital.

"In 1997, the construction of a church was started near the hospital and in 1999 several of our Sisters became nuns," she said.

"At present, the convent houses 75 nuns and novices, and there are many Sisters of Mercy serving in the convent as well."

There are a number of workshops in the convent grounds where nuns and former patients produce beeswax candles, ceramics, paint icons, make icons and pictures of semiprecious stones and make priest's vestments.

"From time to time, two of our sisters visit the United Kingdom with an aim of fundraising," said Sister Tatania.

"We come by a van with our workshops' products and visit some parishes and abbeys and offer our items for sale. In this way, we try to raise money for further construction and charitable work.

"We are very pleased to have been offered a place at the Continental Market in Belfast, and we very much look forward to visiting your beautiful city."

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