Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulevičius
Lugine (Lithuania), April 13, 1871 – Kaunas, January 27, 1927
Roman Martyrology: At Kaunas in Lithuania, Blessed Jurgis Matulewicz, Bishop of Vilnius and then apostolic nuncio in Lithuania, founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics and the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis or Matulewicz was a fine weaver of fate in the small Church of Lithuania, in a historical period where Lithuania experienced membership in Poland, Russia and even independence.
Jurgis was born in the village Matulaitis Lithuanian Lugine April 13, 1971, the last of the eight children of Andrew and Ursula Matulaitis. At age ten he was orphaned of both parents and his older brother John became his guardian. After after elementary school he was put to work in the countryside. In 18 years, in 1889, he followed the brother John Matulewicz to Poland, where the family name changed from Matulaitis in Matulewicz.
He completed his higher studies at the seminary in Kielce and then to Warsaw, then at improving Roman Catholic University in Petersburg, where he was ordained priest on November 20, 1898.
In June 1899 he became a Master in Theology; in December he enrolled at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, where in 1903 he obtained a degree in theology, with a brilliant thesis on “Doctrina Russorum de statu iustitiae originalis” which was published in Krakow.
Taken immediately to his teaching from 1902 to 1904 he held the chair of Latin and Literature in the Canon Law Seminar Kielce recently reopened and from 1907 to 1909 to Dommatica Theology and Sociology at the Catholic Church in Petersburg.
In 1904 appeared the evil of tuberculosis, which forced him to take shelter the Hospital of the Poor in Warsaw, from where he was then transferred to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who cared, full of gratitude for their work in 1907 Sharing the constitutions of their congregation. During those years he was a forerunner of Catholic Poland, in Warsaw by organizing the first group for students called ‘Rebirth’.
Also in collaboration with the sociologist sac. Marcello Godlewski in Warsaw, he established an Association of Catholic Workers, a periodic publication “Social Work”. During the period of his teaching at Petersburg, he could see that the religious institutes were abolished by the Russian government and mindful of the life of almost clandestine Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, wanted to save the same way the ancient Order of Clerics Regular Mariani, which was left alone in the convent Marijampolė.
Then in 1908 went dall’anziano Superior General of the stands the plan of reforming the Constitution, and received his full approval and authorization to act to the Holy See. In line with its aspirations, he went to Rome in 1909 by obtaining the issue of religious vows without the noviciate.
Back in Warsaw, August 29, 1909 he professed his vows in the hands of the Superior General, immediately after which he undertook the reform of the Constitutions of the Order, which provided for the abolition white habit without replacing it with other religious dress, abolition of the choir and the profession of simple vows, and no more solemn.
These constitutions were approved by s. Pius X September 15, 1910 and his father Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulewicz professed became the first of the new Congregation of the Clerics Regular Mariani, while in hiding, was formed at the Academy of St Petersburg first noviciate clandestino with three novices.
In July 14, 1911, he was elected Superior General, as the old Superior died, then his father Jurgis gave to all of the charges and to avoid being discovered by police in the Tsar, went to Switzerland, where he opened a novitiate in Freiburg, called “House of Study” to give the opportunity to return to religious smoothly in Russia by the czarist authorities.
To Freiburg flowed several priests from Lithuania and Poland, then a whole was growing, in 1913 he went to the United States in Chicago opening a religious house and a novitiate, in 1915 other houses in Poland, in 1918 restored the religious life and the novitiate Marijampole in the house in Lithuania.
His ardent love for our neighbors in need led him, after the end of World War I, to found the Congregation of the “Sisters of the Poor of the Immaculate Conception of B. V. Mary, whose constitutions were approved on October 15, 1918.
While committed to consolidate its institutions, on October 23, 1918, came the papal appointment of Pope Benedict XV to the bishop of Vilnius in Lithuania. The years that followed were not easy for the new bishop, because the territory of Vilna in the three following years, he met with eight different governments, German, Russian Bolshevik, Polish, Lithuanian.
The faithful of the diocese were of different nationalities and that was a big problem, because the different ethnic groups that fought in the churches are speaking the language, since 1920 with the new Polish government, began a major hostilities against the bishop because he was not Polish.
Archbishop George Malulaitis used with great love and patience, because in 1924 he founded the Congregation of the “Sisters of Jesus in the Eucharist” with the aim of helping the poor of the Belarusian language.
In 1925 after the Concordat signed between the S. See and Poland, the Diocese of Vilna was
dismantled and the bishop Matulaitis August 3, 1925 left Vilna and went to Rome, where he founded a college for international students and Mariani moved here the Mother House. Pope Benedict XV, grateful for his work, the elevated him to the rank of archbishop holds Adul, named Apostolic Visitor Lithuania, reconstituted in the new Republic.
He worked hard for the establishment of the five dioceses in Lithuanian Lithuanian Ecclesiatica Province, located underground in Kaunas, the project was approved by the S. See, that on April 4, 1929 issued the Apostolic Constitution Lituanorum people, sorting out that the entire organization of the Church in Lithuania at the end and merge the Concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Lithuania, which Msgr. Giorgio Matulaitis succeeded in laying the foundations.
How Apostolic Visitor undertaken a trip to North America, where he visited 92 parishes of Lithuanian emigrants scattered somewhat ‘anywhere. He was 56 years when when an acute perforated appendix quickly brought him to death on January 27, 1927 in Kaunas, was buried in the crypt of the local cathedral, where in 1934 his remains were transferred in the parish church of Marijampolė.
Bishop George Matulaitis – Matulewicz true apostle of his homeland of Lithuania, was beatified in Rome on June 28, 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
SOURCE: Santi e Beati