The Route of Monsignor Kazimieras Vasiliauskas in Vilnius

9 Sites

15 Kilometers

3,5 Hours

The personal history of Father Vasiliauskas is interwoven with service and suffering for God, homeland and the people.

Kazimieras Vasiliauskas was born on April 9th, 1922 in the village of Kateliškiai located in the region of Vabalninkas. He attended Čypėnai Elementary School and Biržai High School. In 1941–1946 he studied at the Kaunas and Vilnius Seminaries. In 1946 he was ordained into the priesthood by Mečislovas Reinys at the Archcathedral of Vilnius.

In 1949 he was arrested, and in 1950, exiled to Siberia. He labored in the coal mines of Inta and Vorkuta until 1958. After his imprisonment, Father Vasiliauskas was not allowed to return to Lithuania, and therefore worked as an accountant at a collective farm and as an electrician at a locomotive engine factory in Latvia for almost 10 years.

In 1969, he was allowed to return to Lithuania. Fr. Vasiliauskas’ first parish assignment was in Varėna where he fulfilled his priestly functions until 1975. After that, he was transferred to St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Vilnius. That is when his most fruitful period in Vilnius began.

From 1989, he was assigned as the first pastor at the Archcathedral of Vilnius after its ecclesiastic function was restored. In 19931995, he was appointed rector of the Vilnius Seminary.

He passed away on October 14th, 2001 while he was pastor emeritus at St. Nicholas Parish in Vilnius.

This route was prepared to commemorate the year of Monsignor Kazimieras Vasiliauskas. The project is partially sponsored by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.


Descriptions, photos and details

St. Michael Church

The Lithuanian Seminary restored by Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys

Once Kazimieras Vasiliauskas graduated from Biržai High School in 1941, he entered the Kaunas Seminary. In the autumn of 1942, the seminarians were transferred from Kaunas to the newly re-established Lithuanian seminary in Vilnius thanks to the efforts of Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys. Lectures took place at the Church of St. Michael, and the seminarians lived in a dormitory near the Gate of Dawn. Ladas Tulaba was the rector of the seminarians and was responsible for their formation, Fr. Alfonsas Lipniūnas taught sociology and pastoral theology. In his letters to his parents, the young seminarian wrote that he prays at the Gate of Dawn, visits the relics of St. Casimir, and climbs up to the Gediminas Castle. He found Vilnius to be a very beautiful city.

In the spring of 1943, the Germans closed the seminary in Vilnius, and in the autumn it was reopened. The seminarian housing was transferred to Tilto Street. In 1945, the Soviets closed the seminary again, and the seminarians returned to Kaunas. Kazimieras Vasiliauskas was ordained on June 16th, 1946 with several other young seminarians at the Archcathedral of Vilnius. The sacrament of ordination was administered by the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius Mečislovas Reinys.

Museum is open
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Wednesday – 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Closed on Sundays, Mondays and national holidays.
Closing time is one hour earlier on the eve of national holidays.
+370 5 269 7803

Gate of Dawn and St. Theresas Church

On July 16th, 1948 Kazimieras Vasiliauskas returned to Vilnius, and for a period of time, was appointed vicar for the Lithuanians at St. Theresa’s Church and the Gate of Dawn Chapel. At the same time, he became the spiritual advisor for Catholic Federation “Ateitis” (Ateitininkai) who were meeting in secret at the time. Three young energetic priests – Kazimieras Vaičionis, Karolis Garuckas, and Kazimieras Vasiliauskas often gathered at the Gate of Dawn Chapel, alternated on who would say the homilies, and looked to help preserving the faith, especially among students. In 1948, the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Gate of Dawn College was established as part of Vilnius University and began to function. This was a secret organization for young priests and members of “Ateitis” which targeted to spreading religious education to the youth in the underground. The young priests soon caught the eye of the Soviet security agents. An official act documenting the establishment of The Blessed Virgin Mary at the Gate of Dawn College and its offering to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary was found hidden inside the statue of Our Lady at St. Anne’s Church. Father Kazimieras would occasionally offer Holy Mass at people’s homes in order to throw the security agents off his tracks. Later, he was assigned to the Church of St. Casimir. And from August 1948, he was assigned to Dubičiai in Varėna district.

Chapel is open
Monday-Sunday – 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Holy Mass in the Chapel

Monday–Saturday – 9.30 a.m. (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Saturday – 10.00 a.m. (in Polish)
Sunday – 9.30 a.m. (in Lithuanian)

Church of St. Theresa
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Saturday – 6 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 9 a.m.
Holy Mass (in Polish)
Monday–Saturday – 5 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m.
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 10 a.m.
Feast days – Indulgences

Minor indulgence feasts of the Mother of Mercy are celebrated on the 16th day of each month with Holy Mass in St. Teresa’s Church at 10 a.m. (in Polish) and 12 p.m. (noon) (in Lithuanian).
The great indulgence feast of the Mother of Mercy of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated for eight days, starting from the week on which falls the day of November 16.

Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights. KGB-MGB prison

The young priest’s assignment to Dubičiai was never officially registered, and so on December 12th, 1948, Fr. Vasiliauskas was officially assigned to Rimšė in the Zarasai district to work as a parish administrator. Thanks to the young and energetic priest, the church was renovated, a choir was formed, and parishioners were drawn to the church because of his homilies. Fr. Vasiliauskas was well-loved, and it was not of his own accord that he didn’t stay long. He was hardly in Rimšė for a year when he was arrested on October 6th, 1949. “The priest is incriminated on the grounds that he is opposed to the Soviet Government; that while he was pastor in Rimšė, he met with nationalist group members, and heard their confessions, he spread provoking and ingenious libellous information about the Soviet authority and Communist Party.” Before he was taken to the MGB internal prison, Fr. Kazimieras requested some time for prayer, and he prayed as he never had before “so that during interrogation he wouldn’t slip up and get someone else into trouble.”

Fr. Vasiliauskas spent a couple of months in the prison. He ended up in the hands of experienced Soviet security agents. The interrogation tired him more than the beatings. The days in the underground MGB prison were clothed in eerie shadows. After the regular badgering, the agents would interrogate about the smallest events in great detail. The interrogators even suggested that he write a letter of protest against Pope Pius XII because he did not accept Lithuania’s annexation, and even under torture, Fr. Vasiliauskas refused to do so. He used to be interrogated  for up to seven hours, but only a couple of protocol pages used to be written down. At night, he would ask fellow inmate Fr. Dobrovolskis to sing the Christmas Midnight Mass and recite poems that he knew by heart. On November 29th, 1949, all of his ”sins” were listed in accusatory findings: criticism of the Soviet government, anti-Soviet agitation, illegal crossing of border, meeting with nationalist group members, hearing their confessions, and providing support with food. He was sentenced behind the scenes like other political prisoners: on February 25th, 1950, he was sentenced to exile for ten years in the Gulag corrective prison camp in Inta, Siberia. In that way, about a third of Lithuania’s priests were exiled to Siberia, and a half of Fr. Vasiliauskas’ seminary classmates were put under arrest.

Museum is open
Wednesday-Saturday – 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
30 minutes before closing the museum tickets are not sold.i.
+370 555 24569

St. Raphael the Archangel Church

Fr. Vasiliauskas was released from Inta Labour Camp in 1956, but unfortunately was arrested again and exiled to Vorkuta Labour Camp in 1957. He was released in 1958, but was forbidden to live and work in Lithuania. He worked as a loader, collective farm accountant, and electrician in Daugavpils (Latvia) until 1969. Upon his return to Lithuania, he was assigned as pastor to a parish in Varėna where he worked until 1975.

On July 28th, 1975, Fr. Kazimieras came to Vilnius and began to serve as adjutant vicar at St. Raphael the Archangel Church. Holy Mass at this parish was held in Polish, so he had to put in a lot of effort to learn Polish. Fr. Vasiliauskas’ homilies were different from the others in their sincerity and his quoting of various authors. Julius Sasnauskas, who later became an underground seminarian and a Franciscan friar, had been brought to this church by Antanas Terleckas, a national underground activist. Julius was certain that Fr. Kazimieras, the former exiled prisoner, would crush the Soviet government during his homily, and instead heard him speak of the beauty of the soul, virtues, and higher ideals.

The KGB continued to follow the priest, and this was also noted by the Sisters of the Eucharistic Jesus. They maintained contact with him and took care of him after two operations. Despite being followed, Fr. Kazimieras joined the defense of the rights of the faithful movement, collaborated with those that circulated underground press and printed it himself.

In the attic of St. Raphael the Archangel Church, a small apartment was attributed to him which was frequented by a variety of visitors, including the wife of the dissident and prisoner Sergei Kovalyov, Nobel Prize winner Andrej Sacharov, and many others.

There was one memorable incident here. The priest’s balcony was near a large tree which could be easily climbed. One night, Fr. Kazimieras heard some scratching sounds outside the window. Upon opening the window, he saw a man clinging to the tree. Fr. Vasiliauskas didn’t call the police, but instead had the stranger come in, gave him some tea, warm clothes, and talked to him until morning. In addition, he also promised to find him a job.

On October 23rd, 1988, many clergy, including Archbishop Steponavičius, Cardinal Sladkevičius, and other bishops, gathered at this small attic apartment at St. Raphael the Archangel Church. The evening before, the Archcathedral had been returned to the faithful, and the clergy group set out from the apartement to celebrate  Holy Mass in front of it.

Today, next to St. Raphael the Archangel Church, there is a commemorative square in honor of Mons. Vasiliauskas. There is a large granite boulder in the middle of the square, encrusted with 10 bronze botanical motifs which represent the Ten Commandments and are found in various church vessels.

Church is open
Monday–Friday – 6.30 a.m.–1 p.m., 3 p.m.–6.30 p.m.
Saturday – 8.30 a.m.–1 p.m., 3 p.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday – 6.30 a.m.–2.30 p.m., 4 p.m.–7 p.m.

Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Friday – 7 a.m., 5 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m., 5 p.m.
Sunday – 7 a.m., 10.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 5 p.m.

Monday–Friday – 7 a.m., 5 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m., 5 p.m.
Sunday – 7 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 5 p.m.

Holy Mass (in Polish)
Monday–Thursday – 7.30 a.m., 6 p.m.
Friday – 7.30 a.m., 1 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m., 6 p.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m.

Monday–Thursday – 7.30 a.m., 6 p.m.
Friday – 7.30 a.m., 1 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m., 6 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m.

+370 5 272 4164

Vilnius Archcathedral Basilica

Fr. Kazimieras Vasiliauskas was destined to become one of the most important figures in the events of the nation’s restoration of independence. On November 28th, 1988, Archbishop Steponavičius assigned Fr. Kazimieras to be a member of the commission dealing with the return of the Archcathedral to the service of the faithful after the period of Soviet oppression. In 1989, he received an official document from the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius Archbishop Steponavičius relieving him of his duties as vicar at St. Raphael the Archangel Church. He was assigned as pastor of the Archcathedral of Vilnius. The final preparatory works at the Archcathedral were finally completed on the very day of its reconsecration on February 5th, 1989, at 4 a.m. Even though not all of the flooring was placed in the naves, a number of the chapels were closed, some liturgical garments and vessels were missing, the faces of the participants at the Holy Mass were lit up with joy and faith. On February 1st, 1989, only four days before the consecration of the Archcathedral,, Pope John Paul II bestowed the title of monsignor to Fr. Vasiliauskas.

Fr. Vasiliauskas was made responsible for the return of the relics of St. Casimir to the Archcathedral. The relics had been kept at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Vilnius since 1953. The celebration of the return was organized in a very solemn fashion. A special carriage was manufactured in one month, but the vehicle transporting the horses broke down, so then the 600 kg sarcophagus was carried by seminarians from the Vilnius Seminary instead.

After closing the door of the Archcathedral for the examination of the relics, both high clergy and teenage ministrants participated in the inspection, and the key to the sarcophagus was handed over to Fr. Vasiliauskas. St. Casimir, the patron of Lithuania, faithfully guided Fr. Kazimieras throughout his entire life. Once the Archcathedral was returned to the faithful, Fr. Kazimieras would lay down on the ground at night with arms stretched out in the shape of the cross at the relics of St. Casimir every year on the feast of this saint.

He strived that the reborn Lithuania would have the best of what was in the pre-war Lithuania. He also participated in the re-establishment of the Catholic Federation “Ateitis” (Ateitininkai) organization.

While he was pastor of the Archcathedral, he called on the Marian Father Vaclovas Aliulis to assist him. Fr. Vasiliauskas entrusted Fr. Aliulis with national radio broadcasts of Holy Mass with preaching, while he took on for himself humble Holy Mass for the children.

The Monsignor was humble and certainly not demanding. He would conform to events, surroundings, people, and did not avoid anyone who sought God. Many noticed his endless inclination to help others. He was a walking example of love, as the poet Justinas Marcinkevičius expressed it. The priest often repeated the words of Saint Francis: “Love is not loved today.” That is why Fr. Vasiliauskas sincerely applied to the precepts given to him by Archbishop Reinys in Archcathedral during his ordination: to help everyone who comes up with their worries, pain, misfortunes, and wounded souls.

Church is open
Monday–Sunday – 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
Excursions are not available during the Holy Mas.
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Saturday – 8 a.m., 5.30 p.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11.15 a.m., 12.30 p.m., 5.30 p.m.

Holy Mass (in Latin)
Sunday – 6.30 p.m.

Information about visiting the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral:
Church Heritage Museum
+370 600 12080
Feast days – Indulgences
The Feast of St. Casimir –  March 4.

Church of the Redeemer. The Monastery of the Brothers of St. John

In 1993, with the re-establishment of the Vilnius Seminary, Fr. Kazimieras was appointed its rector. As a rector, he was a perfect example to the youth – a loving, honorable priest who had endured an exile.

The Vilnius Seminary was officially re-established on July 16th, 1993. The premises were in Antakalnis at the former Trinitarian Monastery. Currently, the Community of the Brothers of Saint John live and work here. On September 14th, 1998, the inauguration of the new Vilnius St. Joseph’s Seminary building took place at Kalvarijų Street 325.

During the first year, Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, the prefect of studies, took care of daily activities of the seminary. Programs from other seminaries were used as reference to build up study curriculum for the first year, and instructors such as: Jonas Jūraitis, Prelate Antanas Rubšys (translator of the Bible into Lithuanian), etc. were on staff.

When the new school year had started, the Soviet army was still occupying the building designated to the seminary, and therefore Fr. Narbekovas took the first-year seminarians to the parish house in Birštonas to begin the seminary’s activities. The seminarians soon returned to Vilnius, and after their lectures, they would roll up their sleeves and clean the neglected 300-year-old Trinitarian Monastery Ensemble.

Fr. Vasiliauskas taught Church history. He would traditionally give a speech during holidays, and would lead retreats for the seminarians. The monsignor fulfilled his duties as a rector for several years leading up to 1995.

Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – 6.30 p.m.
Saturday – 11.30 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m., 12 p.m. (noon)
Holy Mass (in Polish)
Sunday – 6.30 p.m.
+370 5 268 55 72

Monsignor’s Apartment

The monsignor purchased the one room apartment on Pylimo Street for 6,000 rubles which he had received as a compensation for the years spent in exile.

The most valuable possessions in the flat were his books. He lived among them, read, and cherished them. The monsignor had accumulated Lithuanian, Russian, and other classics, and especially loved potery.

The pastor of the Archcathedral did not have any luxury in his apartment. He had a plain desk, images of Saint Casimir, Saint Sebastian and Fr. Tumas Vaižgantas, and a sofa. He acquired a TV with a remote and a VCR in 1995 after receiving the Santarvės Prize for promoting concord and unity in the society.

Everybody noticed the humble nature of Fr. Kazimieras.

Apartment 7 at Pylimo Street 6 was the most democratic place in Vilnius for a period of time. Young women used to shed sorrowful tears of unhappy love here, ex-convicts and people from ex-Soviet government used to look for support. Over his entire lifetime, the monsignor had a compassionate heart towards everyone and maintained his strong ability to listen, to give some advise or even find a way from some complicated situation.

Many famous Lithuanians frequented this apartment including Laimonas Noreika, Algirdas Brazauskas, Virginija Kochanskytė, Rita Preikštaitė, Justinas Marcinkevičius, Vytenis Andriukaitis, among others.

Ramunė Sakalauskaitė remembers the monsignor preparing pancakes. He got along well with his neighbors, especially the member of the Olympic Committee Povilas Karoblis and his wife.

After the monsignor passed away, his brother Juozas’ family inherited the apartment. It was sold at a later date.

The Church of St. Nicholas

In 1996, after Fr. Vasiliauskas celebrated his 50th anniversary in the priesthood, he expressed that he had entered the sunset of his life.

He felt weak and fatigued, and he understood the weight of the workload. So, on June 5th, 1994, he sent a letter to the Archbishop Metropolitan of Vilnius Audrys Juozas Bačkis in which he requested that he would be relieved of his duties as the rector at the Vilnius Seminary, as well as his position as pastor at the Vilnius Archcathedral. The request for the relief of duties as rector was fulfilled August 25th, 1995, and the relief of duties as pastor of the Archcathedral, on April 3rd, 1997.

He felt as if a heavy rock had been lifted from his heart upon his resignation from his important obligations as pastor of the Archcathedral. He was very happy that he would be able to “contemplate important problems of life.”

Since he wanted to still be useful, he requested a status of emeritus at the Church of St. Nicholas in Vilnius.

During the prohibition of press, books were hidden at this church, and during the Soviet years, it housed the Resistance Center, and on August 23rd, 1987, participants of the protest against the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact prayed here.

He came to St. Nicholas Church every morning at 7 a.m.. He was dearly loved here and continued to be very active.

The monsignor continued to work until his last hours, despite his liver cancer.

Church is open
Monday–Friday – 3.30 p.m.–6.30 p.m.
Sunday – 7.15 a.m.–3 p.m.
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Friday – 6 p.m.
Saturday (and national holidays) – 9 a.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m., 10 a.m. (with translation to sign language), 2 p.m..
+370 5 262 3069

Antakalnis Cemetery

In 1996, during his 50-year jubilee in the priesthood, the monsignor said: “My main concern is to die nicely. I have seen many dying people, and I understood that it is easier to live nicely than to die nicely. I would like to die loving everybody and be loved by everybody.”

The monsignor didn’t want to make a claim for eternal rest in the underground of the Archcathedral. He had said that by no means did he want to be stuck in the cellar. “Nobody would come visit, nor would a bird land there. I would like to be buried in Antakalnis, on the hill of the artists, next to my friends. And I don’t want a monument…just a simple rock.”

Despite his grave illness he still engaged in good deeds, including donating 1,000 books to Vabalninkas Balys Sruoga High School in 2001. He once stated, “I was never rich in this life, and never even owned a car. My wealth was my friends and books. As the sunset of my life approaches, I want to share my books with the youth, because books are the light.”

Even to his last day, he remained simple, humble, and modest. One day, when he came to St. Nicholas Church, he knew that it would be his last time. He gave a book signed “in remembrance”. “I won’t be back anymore – he gave a farewell hug to the pastor Fr. Paulionis. – We will meet in eternity, in the home of our Heavenly Father.”

On October 14th, 2001, Monsignor Vasiliauskas passed away. He died on a Sunday at the age of 79.

He was waked in the Chapel of the Exiled at the Archcathedral of Vilnius. Cardinal Bačkis presided the celebration of the funeral Mass. A large crowd of the faithful gathered, then the procession arrived at Antakalnis Cemetery where the word “Sudie” (Goodbye) was spelled out with autumn leaves on the ground. This farewell was the creative idea of Fr. Petronis.

The Prime Minister at the time, Algirdas Brazauskas, donated funds for the monument which was created by the sculptor A. Sakalauskas. The words of Mons. Vasiliauskas’ beloved poet Jurgis Baltrušaitis were carved on the stone monument: “There is light even in the darkness.”