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Published: 2 january 2013 11:18

Events celebrating 600-year anniversary of Samogitia baptism kick off in Lithuania

LNK nuotr. / .
A series of solemn events is starting in Lithuania to celebrate the 600-year anniversary since the baptism of Samogitia, the region in western Lithuania, an event that historians see of importance to entire Europe.

The program of celebrations will start with a solemn service at Telšiai Cathedral and all churches in Telšiai diocese on Sunday.

A pilgrimage to Rome is scheduled for March 2-7 and should culminate in a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

On July 6-14, an anniversary scout camp should bring together more than 2000 young people from Lithuania and abroad.

The Lithuanian post also plans to issue post stamps dedicated to the 600-year anniversary of Samogitia baptism.

Christening of Samogitia, the last pagan land of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was started in 1413. A Samogitian diocese was established on October 23, 1417, with Motiejus Trakiškis appointed as its bishop.

Vilnius University history professor Alfredas Bumblauskas says that the christening of Samogitia is significant for the history of entire Europe.

Under the government's resolution, the program of events of the anniversary celebrated in 2009-2017 is coordinated by the Culture Ministry, which has envisaged 1.6 million litas (EUR 464,000) for the purpose in this year's budget.

After the 1410 victory against the crusaders in the Battle of Grunwald, Samogitia remained the only cause of conflicts between Lithuanian leader Vytautas the Great and the Teutonic Order. Rumors in the West had it that the Lithuanian-Polish victory was a fake, as the battle was won with the help of pagans. Therefore, Vytautas and Jogaila started christening residents of Samogitia in 1413.

In 1422, the order of German knights gave up its claims to Samogitia and has not caused threat to Lithuania since then.

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