Tragizmas ir herojiška meilė "Titanike": kunigas Juozas Montvila
Lithuanian Catholic priest
Priest Juozas Montvila
Rev. Juozas Montvila
The Crash of the Titanic
Wrect of Titanic
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AbstractLithuania, celebrating the millennium from the commemoration of its name, mentions its most important social and historical events, gives their evaluation and pays tribute to its honoured personalities. Lithuanian priest Rev. Juozas Montvila is a personality worth mentioning. He grew up not far from Mariampole, studied at Seinai Priests' seminary. After his first Solemn Mass, Fr. Juozas Montvila moved to Augustavas deanery, a parish of Lipsk. Together with Roman Catholics, there were quite a lot of the Uniates following the Byzantine tradition. The Brest Church Union (Lithuanian Brasta) was made between Lithuanian and Polish Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church in 1596. But after the Third Division of both nations in 1795, the old Lithuanian state ended its existence, and other empires divided the country. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Lithuania became a part of Russia, administration of which attempted to isolate Lithuania from the Western world, especially from Rome as the centre of Christianity. Father Montvila was persecuted by the tsar powers for his contacts with the Unities because according to the law of Russian tsar Nicholas in 1839 Eastern Catholic Church had been annulled, and 1.5 million of the Uniates were forced to join the Orthodox Church. In Lithuania the priests of Roman Catholic Church were under persecution if they served the Eastern Catholics. Though the Uniates were persecuted by the tsar and forced to join the Orthodox Church, they still asked Roman Catholic priests for service. Orthodox Church also supported the persecution of the Uniates.
Fr. Juozas Montvila thus got into trouble: he baptized a Uniate baby and heard the confession of a dying old man. Consequently, a suit was entered on him, as it is mentioned in the script of Warshaw governor-general to Suvalkai governor.Fr. Montvila became persona non grata not only in his diocese but in all Russian Empire. Furthermore, he could have been repressed. So under the approval of Seinai bishop Antanas Karosas, Juozas Montvila was getting ready to leave Lithuania secretly, by the ship Titanic crossing the Atlantic and to reside in the USA for some time. The ship Titanic those days was the most powerful and posh in Europe, incapable of sinking. But during the catastrophe, the Father stayed with those unhappy people who were refused any rescue means. Father Montvila, according to the witness, offered religious service and moral support without seeking to escape, and when he was offered help, he refused, giving this opportunity to another person. He had to make a decision immediatly without much consideration as it was in the case of St. Maximilian Kolbe who is honoured as a saint. Conversely, Juozas Montvila is hardly known. And both these Catholic priests had a lot in common: they both offered their lives for their neighbour without any hesitation. Nearly a century had passed after the catastrophe of the Titanic, and on the basis of new witnesses and documents, we again discuss the questions about the reasons of Fr. J. Montvila's departure from Lithuania to the USA and the circumstances of his death in rescuing another person's life.