Church of the Holy Spirit

Ivan Trutnev. Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius. 2nd half of the 19th century. Lithuanian National Museum of Art

Did the Lithuanians have beards in the ancient times like painters depicted? Evidently, beards were very unusual in Lithuania in the 14th century and showed the practice of Orthodoxy. The heart of Vilnius, the Church of the Holy Spirit, has become the resting place for three of Vilnius’ martyrs – Antanas, Jonas and Eustatijus. Their never-dying corpses were found in the basement of the church in the early 19th century and have defied time for more than 660 years – they are considered the greatest treasure among members of the Lithuanian Orthodoxy. These three Christians, noblemen of the Grand Duke of the Lithuanian origin, were martyred in 1346 or 1347 because, during the reign of Duke Algirdas, they secretly converted to Orthodoxy and followed its customs by growing beards.

According to legend, during their torture, they miraculously healed overnight. Antanas, Jonas and Eustatijus were declared saints in 1374. On the façade of the Church of the Holy Spirit you can see images of the three saints, and inside the church, in the decorated reliquary, you can see their bodies: every year on 26 June, the reliquary is opened during special public worship.

Aušros Vartų g. 10
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