Skip to comments.In the Land of Crosses
Posted on 09/25/2013 12:00:33 PM PDT by marshmallow
SIAULIAI, LITHUANIANo one knows when pious Lithuanians first erected crosses of all sizes on a hill about seven miles north of the city of Siauliai; it may have been after an abortive 1831 uprising against Russian rule over the small Baltic country. Oftentimes, the bodies of Lithuanian patriots killed during that rebellion, and a similar revolt in 1863, could not be found. So their families planted crosses in their memory on a small mound that was eventually covered with memorials. During the countrys brief moment of independence between the First and Second World Wars, citizens of a free Lithuania continued to plant crosses near Siauliai, as the Hill of Crosses became a pilgrimage center.
I first became aware of this remarkable place in the late 1970s, when I began to take an interest in the Catholic Churchs struggle for religious freedom in Lithuania, then a republic of the Soviet Union. That struggle was led by some remarkable men and women, including two priests who did time in the Gulag labor camps, Father Sigitas Tamkevicius, S.J., and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, and a clandestine nun, Nijole Sadunaite, whose small book, A Radiance in the Gulag, remains a moving testament to courage forged by Catholic devotion. The resistance Church in Lithuania produced the longest-running, unbroken underground publication in the history of the USSR, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which was typed, copy by copy, on manual typewriters, secretly distributed in Lithuania, and then smuggled abroad, where it was translated into English by Brooklyn-based Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid.
In the mid-1980s, working with my friend Congressman John Miller, I helped organize a Lithuanian Catholic Religious Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. The caucuss bipartisan membership pressed the Soviet authorities to release Lithuanian Catholic prisoners of conscience, engineered....
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From the land of my ancestors! Thanks for posting this!
Wow! What a picture.
I've had this book for nearly 30 years. Along with Pope John Paul II, Nijole Sadunaite and Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko were major influences in my journey to the Catholic Church.