Stockholm, Sweden, Jun 19, 2008 / 02:05 am
A Latvian priest has been awarded the title “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem for risking his life to save Jews during World War II.
Father Kasimir Vilnis was parish pastor in Riga, Latvia during the war. He hid Jews from Nazi persecution in his church and in houses belonging to the church. The heroic actions of Fr. Vilnis were attested to by David Packin, a man who later left for the United States.
When the communists were about to occupy Latvia in 1944, Father Kasimir had to flee to Sweden, where he lived until his death in 1988.
The Catholic Diocese of Stockholm brought proof of Father Kasimir’s actions to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Yad Vashem decided to name the priest “Righteous among the Nations” on March 27. Father Kasimir’s name will be inscribed on the Righteous Honor Wall in Yad Vashem, and a medal and diploma will be given to his relatives in Latvia later this summer.