President of the Republic of Lithuania

Legacy of John Paul II and John XXIII is alive in the hearts of all the faithful

2014-04-27

Sunday, April 27, the Vatican - President Dalia Grybauskaitė took part in the ceremony of canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII at the Vatican. Pope Francis celebrated the Canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square. The Mass was attended by heads of state and dignitaries from more than 80 countries.

"Two spiritual leaders, extraordinary personalities lived to create miracles that touch everyone's heart. Their activity, values and spiritual legacy left a distinct mark in the human history and will stay alive forever. Lithuania has always felt a very special attention and care of the canonized pontiffs which strengthened our belief in freedom, justice and our state," the President said.

The canonization took place on the Divine Mercy Sunday which had officially been designated by John Paul II. Celebration of this feast day in the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius dates back to pre-war times.

According to the President, Pope John Paul II whose mother Kačerauskaitė was of Samogitian descent was very close to Lithuanians and showed special attention to Lithuania.

"John Paul II, a noble and warm hearted person, always spoke the language of freedom, tolerance and respect to fellow men. Being a harsh critic of communism, he strongly supported Lithuania's independence and spoke out for national self-determination. His works and moral authority contributed immensely to building a unified post-war Europe," the President said.

John Paul II intended to visit Lithuania in 1987, during the Soviet occupation, but was denied permission by the communist government; so he organized an impressive commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania in Rome. He reformed the boundaries of the Lithuanian Church according to the current borders of the state, established a new ecclesiastical province of Vilnius and appointed - for the first time in Lithuania's history - Lithuanian cardinals, Vincentas Sladkevičius and Audrys Bačkis. John Paul II was the only pope to visit Lithuania. The apostolic visit took place immediately after the withdrawal of occupation troops in 1993. His Holiness spoke Lithuanian during the entire visit.

Pope John Paul II was awarded the Charlemagne Prize for his merits to promoting the unity of Europe. 


According to the President, the role of John XXIII was also very important to the faithful of Lithuania. He contributed to the renewal of the church in the modern world and to reducing the isolation of the Lithuanian Church during Soviet occupation. Although the Soviet government prohibited Lithuanian bishops to participate in the Second Vatican Council in 1962, it was through the efforts of John XXIII that Lithuanian priests were allowed to study in Rome.

After the Holy Mass in St. Peter's Square, the President held a meeting with Pope Francis. President Grybauskaitė presented the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church with wooden Eastern eggs decorated by Lithuanian folk artists.

Copyright - R. Dačkus 

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2014.04.27 11:26

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