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Booksmugglers: Silvestras Gimzauskas



Silvestras GimzauskasSILVESTRAS GIMZAUSKAS, (1844-1897), Roman Catholic priest and poet, born in Kirdeikiai in 1844. He graduated from the Theological Seminary of Vilnius and from 1877-1878 continued his studies at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. Illness forced him to discontinue his studies in St. Petersburg and return to Lithuania, where he was assigned to various parishes in the Vilnius diocese. Being a fervent Lithuanian patriot, Gimzauskas firmly resisted Russian rule in Lithuania and zealously distributed forbidden Lithuanian books published in the Latin alphabet. (See Press Ban). He also condemned the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Lithuania which, along with the nobility, had succumbed to the Polish cultural influences and refused to allow the use of the Lithuanian language. Because of his militancy, Gimzauskas encountered many difficulties; for example, he was demoted from his post as deacon of Merkine parish to the position of vicar at Giedraiciai parish. Falling ill, he went to Warsaw to recover and there, on September 27, 1897, he died. Gimzauskas' best known work is a collection of poetry entitled Lietuvos biciuolis (The Friend of Lithuania, 1881). In this work he brings out his Iove for the Lithuanian language and shows the importance of the Lithuanian language to the nation. He also portrayed Lithuanian history in a romantic manner. In its own way, Gimzauskas' poetry foreshadowed the work of the well-known Lithuanian poet of the national reawakening era, Maironis, who used the same patriotic themes but in a much more artistic manner.