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Lithuanian bishop beatified as martyr

June 26, 2017

Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis (1873-1962), who suffered intense persecution from the Soviet regime during his 33 years as a bishop, was beatified as a martyr at the cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, on June 25.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass of beatification.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1900, Archbishop Matulionis ministered in Latvia and Saint Petersburg, Russia. Imprisoned by the Soviet regime from 1923 to 1925, he was secretly ordained an auxiliary bishop in 1929 at Pope Pius XI’s request.

Imprisoned again from 1929 to 1933, he spent most of the next decade after his release ministering in Lithuania. In 1943, Pope Pius XII named him bishop of Kaisiadorys.

Following the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Bishop Matulionis was again imprisoned for ten years. After his release, he was confined to an apartment. St. John XXIII honored him with the personal title of archbishop in February 1963; six months later, the prelate was killed.

“Let us praise God for the witness of this strenuous defender of the faith and of the dignity of man,” Pope Francis said following his June 25 Angelus address. “Let us greet him, and all the Lithuanian population, with applause.”

 
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