The new cardinal who survived a Siberian prison camp

The new cardinal who survived a Siberian prison camp October 9, 2019

Stunning witness, via CNA:

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.

Via Wikimedia Commons

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….

,,,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.

The cardinal said other prisoners would comment about his faith, and the strength that it gave him.

“They told me, ‘It’s easier for you because you have faith, because you can say Mass and that makes you stronger than us.’”

Tamkevicius also turned to the Virgin Mary as a source of strength, from the moment he was sentenced and sent on a train to the forced labor camp.

“I placed myself in the hands of the Virgin,” he said, adding when he returned from the prison camp, he immediately went from the train station to the Chapel of the Virgin of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius.

“There I celebrated Mass, and gave thanks to the Lord and also to the Virgin,” he said.

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