Kaunas, Lithuania, Oct 7, 2019 / 23:49 pm
One of the newest cardinals of the Church says he drew strength from the Mass and the Blessed Virgin during the decade he spent in a Soviet prison camp in Siberia.
Sigitas Tamkevicius, archbishop emeritus of Kaunas, Lithuania, was elevated to the rank of cardinal in the Oct. 5 consistory.
As a priest in Lithuania, Tamkevicius played an active part in resisting communist persecution of the Church. With four other priests, he founded in 1978 the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers’ Rights.
He also set up the Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania, a small magazine - produced on a typewriter - that reported on the situation of the Church and of Catholics in the Baltic state.
In 1983, Tamkevicius was arrested and held by the KGB. He was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor and exile. He served some of his sentence in Siberia.
In a statement to EWTN and ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, Tamkevicius explained that during his time in prison, “my stronghold was my faith, which I kept alive by praying a lot.”
“I could only celebrate Mass secretly. I celebrated the Eucharist with great care, and for me it was a great source of strength in prison,” he said.
To get the bread and wine, Tamkevicius resorted to the meal tickets the prisoners received. He was able to receive bread – and could request that it be unleavened – and a dry grape, which he would use to make the wine.