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POPE AND LITHUANIA
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POPE AND LITHUANIA

Lithuania had only recently regained independence when Pope John Paul II came to visit in 1993, from September 4 to 8, becoming the first pope in history to do so. During his stay the Holy Father reflected deeply on the motto of the trip through the Baltic region: “Let us give witness to Christ who has set us free”. He accented the fact that freedom is inseparable from responsibility.

Though the toponym «Lithuania» is for the first time mentioned in Annals of Quedlinburg (Saxony-Anhalt) in 1009, a history of the Church in Lithuania began only two and a half centuries later. In April or May 1251 a Lithuanian duke Mindaugas, his family and the members of his court received a sacrament of baptism and a royal crown from the Pope. The Kingdom of Lithuania did not last long: in 1263 Mindaugas was killed by the contestants of his power, and Lithuania – not a kingdom anymore, but a Grand Duchy again – relapsed into paganism.

The first Pope of the Americas Jorge Mario Bergoglio hails from Argentina. The 76-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires is a prominent figure throughout the continent, yet remains a simple pastor who is deeply loved by his diocese, throughout which he has travelled extensively on the underground and by bus during the 15 years of his episcopal ministry.

St. John Paul II in Lithuania

Lithuania had only recently regained independence when Pope John Paul II came to visit in 1993, from September 4 to 8, becoming the first pope in history to do so. During his stay the Holy Father reflected deeply on the motto of the trip through the Baltic region: “Let us give witness to Christ who has set us free”. He accented the fact that freedom is inseparable from responsibility.