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Lithuania: Bishop Matulionis to become Blessed. Imprisoned for 20 years, he died as a martyr under Communism

The beatification ceremony of Teofilius Matulionis (1876-1962) in Vilnius on 25 June 2017 will be presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Papal envoy, Card. Angelo Amato. “The news of the beatification of the Venerable Archbishop Teofilius is a gift to the Lithuanian people”, the website of the Bishops’ Conference announcing the event reports: his life “shows the courage and strength” by which a person can face life in a system that despises religion and conscience. The Archbishop spent “sixteen years in prison and four under house arrest, not because he had committed crimes, but in hatred of the Christian faith. By venerating this figure, “the Church recalls and pays tribute to all Christian martyrs, of faith and conscience, victims of atheistic Communism, whose lives, sacrificed for the faith and freedom of the homeland, are still little known”. Matulionis, former Archbishop of Kaišiadorys, was poisoned to death and became a martyr of state atheism under the Soviet communist regime, after being imprisoned several times and deported to Siberia. This is the first time such a ceremony is held in Lithuania: “This is not just a historic event, it is an invitation to live the Gospel with courage in the face of present challenges and persecution. It is a good opportunity to meet the living Jesus and become His disciple”, the Bishops wrote.

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