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Lithuania: Youth Day and beatification of bishop Matulionis, “a martyr of the Soviet era”. 20 thousand devotees expected to come

Last preparations for the historical celebration that will be held in Vilnius on Sunday, 25th June, for the beatification of Teofilius Matulionis (1873-1962), the archbishop who was imprisoned three times in his lifetime and died a martyr because of his faith. This is the fist canonisation that takes place in Lithuania, that of the “first Lithuanian martyr of the Soviet era”, who is now “an inspiring example of a person who fought for freedom of thought”. On the square in front of the cathedral of Vilnius, at 02.00 pm, card. Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will officiate the ceremony, jointly celebrated by all Lithuanian bishops. The day before, Saturday, in the afternoon, the relics of the venerable Matulionis will be transferred from Kaišiadorys, where they are buried, to the cathedral of Vilnius, to be displayed to the veneration of the faithful overnight. Over 20 thousand devotees are expected to come for the celebration from across Lithuania, as well as from Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Russia, especially from the area in and around St Petersburg, where the archbishop attended some of his priestly studies and carried out his ministry for a few years. The beatification also marks the end of the National Youth Day that starts in Vilnius on Friday, 23rd June. Police warned that no cars will be let into the city centre.

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