St Dominic and St Hyacinth in Lithuania: Eight Centuries of Memory

6th August 2021 is the 800th anniversary of the death of St Dominic (Domingo de Guzmán, c. 1170-1221), founder of the Order of Preachers. 1231 is traditionally considered the beginning of Dominican missions in Lithuania, which eventually became associated with a legend about a visit by St Hyacinth (Jacek Odrowąż, c. 1183–1257), the first Dominican of Polish descent. Both saints only had an indirect presence in Lithuania through their disciples and their stories, which became the basis for their numerous depictions in various works of goldsmithing, painting, graphic art, sculpture and textile.

The content of the exhibition which will open on 17th August reflects a memorial tradition that has been continuing for eight centuries. It originates from the saints’ life stories, which were later supplemented with reports about visions and miracles. The display stands include excerpts from the sources that inspired the portrayals of the saints, as well as presentations on various frescoes, mouldings or paintings that were not available to be borrowed for the exhibition, such as the oldest image of St Dominic in Lithuania, which has survived to this day as part of a fresco at the Bernardine Church in Vilnius, or rococo mouldings and murals at the Church and Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius.

Remnants of once rich monastic art tell the story of the living traditions of piety: 17th–18th century monstrances from Sejny, Liškiava and Samogitian Calvary, paintings and sculptures from the Dominican monasteries in Paparčiai, Trakai, Vilnius, or the Bernadine Church of the Holy Trinity in Kaunas. Efforts were being made to uphold these traditions all the way up to the 19th and 20th centuries, especially through the work of the Confraternities of the Holy Rosary. Images created when the Dominicans re-established themselves in Raseiniai (1932–1940) and Vilnius (1992 onwards) once again include depictions of the order’s saints. Also important in the context of early 20th century but little-known, is the story of how the Chapel of St Hyacinth in the Church of Sts Phillip and Jacob in Vilnius was decorated: over several months in 1944, a team of artists led by Jerzy Hoppen decorated the church with scenes from the saint’s life. Initially kept at the library of Torun University, their sketches are being returned to Vilnius for the first time since the Second World War.

Gathered from various churches, museums, libraries and private collections, the artworks at the exhibition show us how St Dominic and St Hyacinth were imagined by people who lived in the territory of modern-day Lithuania, and how their portrayals changed over time. Their memory was preserved for eight hundred years and has resulted in rich local heritage that bears ties with other Christian countries. We hope that this exhibition will help you rediscover it and its value. 

Organizer: Church Heritage Museum of the Archdiocese of Vilnius
Curator Birutė Valečkaitė
Consultants: Darius Baronas, br. Sławomir Brzozecki OP, Inga Ilarienė, Sigita Maslauskaitė-Mažylienė, Rita Pauliukevičiūtė
Coordinators: Violeta Indriūnienė, Kamilė Jagėlienė, Indraja Kubilytė, Vidmantė Narvidaitė, Livija Salickienė, Sandra Stonytė
Architect: Ieva Cicėnaitė
Designer: Laura Grigaliūnaitė
Photographers: Kęstutis Stoškus, Gediminas Trečiokas
Editor: Rita Markulienė
Translator: Paulius Balčytis
Supported by: Archdiocese of Vilnius, Dominican Convent of Sts Philip and James the Apostles in Vilnius, Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Baltisches Haus, BTA Insurance, RENESANS TRANS INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITIONS Sp. z o.o.
Media sponsors:, "IQ" magazine, JCDecaux Lietuva , Media Traffic , "Artuma" magazine, "Kelionė" magazine, Magnificat leidiniai

Organizers of the exhibition would like to thank: Archdiocese of Kaunas, Diocese of Kaišiadorys, Diocese of Panevėžys, Diocese of Šiauliai, Diocese of Telšiai, Diocese of Vilkaviškis, Dotnuva Parish of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, dr. Jaunius Gumbis, Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, Karvys Parish of St Joseph, Kernavė Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Scapular, Kretinga Museum, Liškiava Parish of the Holy Trinity, Lithuanian Art Centre „Tartle“, Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Maišiagala Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Museum of the Kaunas Archdiocese, Musninkai Parish of the Holy Trinity, National Museum of Lithuania, Open-Air Museum of Lithuania, Paberžė Parish of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Palėvenė Parish of St Dominic, Pavoverė Parish of St Casimir, Plungė Parish of St John the Baptist, Rykantai Parish of the Holy Trinity, Samogitian Museum „Alka“, Smilgiai Parish of St George, Šiauliai „Aušros“ Museum, Šilėnai Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Toruń Nicolaus Copernicus University Library, Trakai History Museum, Traupis Parish of St Anne, Ukmergė Parish of Sts Peter and Paul the Apostles, Utena Regional Museum, Vabalninkas Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Vievis Parish of St Anne, Vilnius Calvary Parish of the Discovery of the Holy Cross, Vilnius Parish of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Vilnius Parish of St Theresa, Vilnius Parish of the Holy Spirit, Vilnius Regional State Archives, Vilnius University Library, workers of the Restoration and Construction Trust of the Vilnius Archdiocese, Žemaičių Kalvarija Parish of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the conservators and restorers who helped to prepare the exhibits. 


Vilniaus Akivyskupija            

Informational sponsors