President of the Republic of Lithuania

The President paid tribute to the leaders and participants of the 1863–1864 uprising

2019-11-22

President Gitanas Nausėda and President Andrzej Duda of Poland with the first ladies took part in the state funeral of uprising leaders Zigmantas Sierakauskas and Konstantinas Kalinauskas and other 18 participants of the 1863–1864 uprising whose remains were found on Gediminas Hill. The ceremony was also attended by other honorable foreign guests from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Latvia.

During the holy mass at the Cathedral, the President emphasized that the leaders and insurgents of the 1863–1864 uprising were a reflection of their times: the gentry and city dwellers, peasants and clergy, organizers and leaders of the uprising, conspirers and heralds. They were true sons of their homeland who refused to accept oppression, who stood up and sacrificed their lives in an unequal fight.

“There was no justice for them in courts. And after death, many were laid in an unmarked pit on Gediminas Hill, united forever by the executioners’ grim determination to conceal higher truth: the insurgents did not die for nothing”, said the President.

According to the President, Lithuania can be justly proud of its archaeologists, historians, art professionals and other experts who have made it possible for us to recover a valuable part of our historical legacy. Detailed research helped to reconstruct the complicated and dramatic life paths of the insurgents. Symbolically, it was a token of everlasting love – a gold ring with engraved newlyweds’ names and wedding date – that enabled to make a definite identification.

The President highlighted that the bond of the Lithuanian people with the participants of the 1863 uprising and their ideals has never been as strong as it was today. We now better understand that the ideas of civil rights, the freedom of faith, conscience and word, and social justice – all of which were put forward by the insurgents – marked the path for our nations towards modern world.

“Today we realize that patriotism, loyalty, generosity of spirit, and resolve do not belong to a single nation or specific historical period”, said President Gitanas Nausėda.

The President stressed that Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Latvians remembered the times of a common state and all suffered much pain and anguish. However, they survived the challenges and eventually restored national independence. “It may have taken new forms, different from what the leaders and participants of the 1863 uprising perceived, but our shared memory is still alive. It speaks to us in old cemeteries and churches, towns and villages, forests and valleys. It inspires us to create close bonds, develop new visions of freedom and engage in joint work”, the President said.

Metropolitan archbishop Gintaras Grušas celebrated the mass at Vilnius Cathedral Basilica that was also attended by Lithuanian, Polish, Belarusian bishops and military chaplains.

After the holy mass accompanied by the sound of the bells of Vilnius churches, a solemn funeral procession moved to the Old Rasos Cemetery. The church bells in Vilnius were echoed by Sigismund’s bell in Krakow, the largest bell in the Wawel Cathedral that is rung on exceptional occasions. The leaders and participants of the 1863-1864 uprising were laid to eternal rest at the columbarium of the Old Rasos Cemetery Chapel. 

On 3 January 2017, when the work on the slopes of Gediminas Hill began, burials were accidentally discovered on the hill site. Having confirmed that those were the remains of the insurgents who were killed in Lukiškių Square, Vilnius, after the 1863-1864 uprising, the excavations continued, and remains of 20 people were unearthed. Until now, the remains of priest Stanislovas Išora could not be found.

The President‘s Communication Group

Last updated 2019.11.22 16:48

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