THE HISTORY OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION CHURCH AND PARISH
Lithuania regained its independence in 1918, and shortly thereafter, in 1922, an idea gained ground to build a church as a national shrine and a symbol of gratitude to God for the regained freedom in the city of Kaunas, then the temporary capital of Lithuania.
An executive committee in charge of construction of the shrine was formed and the by-laws were registered. The City of Kaunas made a plot of land available for construction. In that same year, a design by engineer Karolis Reisonas was chosen for the church as the best out of many from the competition that was held. The final design for the church was drawn up and, after approval in 1933, permission for construction was granted.
The architectural style of the Church is monumental and inspiring. The interior has a tri-nave, basilica-like rectangular design-69 x26m with a choir loft which also houses the organ. Entrances are from all sides. At each end of the church are two rectangular towers: a small one above the central altar and the large one at the main entrance. The height of the large tower is 70 meters. On its upper level a chapel of St. Casimir was planned. The height of the main structure is 26 meters; the dimension of the terrace on the roof was to have been 45x13 m. The sanctuary has a seating capacity of 700; in total there is space for 5000 people---2000 of these could be accommodated on the roof terrace. The "Way of the Cross" was to have been placed on the roof terrace as well.
The corner stone for the church, brought from the Olive Mountain in Jerusalem, was solemnly blessed and placed in the foundation in 1934. The government allocated 145,000 Lt. for the construction; the rest came from charitable contributions. By 1940 one million Lt. had been spent on the building. In the spring of 1940, the major construction work had been accomplished: the interior walls were covered by plaster, oak frames for the windows were installed, and wood for the doors was made ready.
Soon after further building tasks had to be suspended due to the Soviet occupation. The building was confiscated. After the war, the Soviets housed a radio factory (later called "Banga") in the uncompleted church. The "Banga" plant reconstructed the entire building, adapting it to its needs, by constructing three stories in the side naves and five in the central nave. The crosses were removed and the chapel demolished.
With the national awakening in 1988, the Lithuanian people started to clamour for the restitution of the church to the faithful. The by-laws of the Council on the Restoration of the Shrine (later the Restoration Council) were registered in 1989. A year later, in 1990, the LSSR Supreme Council of those days obligated the "Banga" factory to return the building to the Restoration Council in the condition that it was when it was appropriated, but the building was returned as is-- in very bad condition-- and not as it had been before.
Now some changes have been introduced into the reconstruction design. Due to subsequent reforms in the liturgical rites, the altars of the side naves were abandoned; the site of the central altar in the sanctuary was moved nearer-- between the first and second columns. In order to be able to use the Shrine also for cultural events, the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament was planned to be near the Sacristy. Slanting slabs and an elevator for the disabled are planned near the side entrance.
Reconstruction work has been hampered due to a lack of funds. Public donations from 1993-1997 were only sufficient to do the most necessary work in order to protect the structure from further deterioration. With additional government support in 1997, reconstruction work could proceed again at a faster pace.
All in all, 4.5 million Lt. has been spent on reconstruction. At present, due to the lack of funds, reconstruction has slowed down once more. To be able to say Mass regularly and to hold cultural events in the Shrine, eight million Lt. are still needed to complete the job.
Therefore, we call on the good will of the Lithuanian people, scattered around the world everywhere, who hold dear their country's liberty and the freedom of their faith to join in another fund-raising to complete Christ's Resurrection Church. We ask you to be as generous as your means will allow in order to bring to fulfilment the promise of our grandparents and our great-grandparents.
May the snowy white cross on the tower of the Church high above the Green Hill ( Zaliakalnis), raise in our hearts the hope of resurrection of the Lithuanian nation, and thus strengthen our love and faith.
We thank, in advance, all kind contributors to the reconstruction of the church. Donations can be sent to the bank account of the Church Reconstruction Committee:
10002254880 (national currency)
10034297624 (foreign currency)
Hansa Bank of Kaunas Department, Code: 73000.
Honorary Chairman of the Church Reconstruction Committee is Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, the first Head of State after re-establishment of Lithuania's independence in 1990; Chairman of the Church Reconstruction Committee is Rev. Vytautas Grigaravicius, Dean and Pastor of Christ's Resurrection Church. The reconstruction project is under the direction of the architect, Dr. Algimantas Sprindys.