Up to 50,000 people may attend festivities in Vilnius on Sunday for beatification of Teofilius Matulionis, organizers say, as police plans to boost its presence in the Lithuanian capital.
Bishop Teofilius Matulionis. Teofilis Pilkis Photo
© Asm. archyvas

"We have worked out a special plan to ensure public peace, we have assigned forces and reserves, if we need them. We are trying to be flexible and act in accordance to circumstances," Paulius Radvilavičius, spokesman for the Vilnius county police, told BNS on Wednesday.

The police announced plans of checking persons and items at entrances to the events, advising residents and guests to refrain from carrying unnecessary items, large handbags and backpacks.

Živilė Peluritienė of the Vilnius Archdiocese told BNS that the exact number of participants was unknown, as preliminary registrations had only been received from those arriving by bus.

"Nearly 10,000 people are coming by bus, in addition to 500 by train from the Telsiai diocese and a few hundred people by train from Belarus, as Teofilius Matulionis has worked in Belarus, as well. We are expecting groups from Russia, St.Petersburg, quite a few pilgrims are coming from Latvia and Poland. The church service will be held by nearly 50 bishops and cardinals, attended by a few hundred priests from Lithuania and other countries. The head army bishop is coming from the United States, as Teofilius Matulionis also served as an army chaplain," said Peluritienė.

This is the first time a beatification celebration is held in Lithuania.

Pope Francis is delegating prefect Cardinal Angelo Amato to head the beatification ceremony.

Matulionis (1873–1962) was a Lithuanian archbishop and martyr who had been repeatedly detained and convicted by the Soviet administration before being taken to labor camps and deported. Regardless of the persecution, Matulionis worked as a priest. In 1962, pope John 23 rd promoted Matulionis to archbishop but he was injected with a vague substance during a search of his home in Seduva. He died three days later.

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