Biography of Servant of God, Archbishop Teofilis Matulianis

Born June 20, 1873, into a peasant family in Kudarishki, Ukmergé district, Lithuania. Finished high school in Daugavpils [Dvinsk]; graduated from St. Petersburg Theological Seminary and was ordained in March 1900. From 1900 he was vicar of the parish in Varkliany in Rositsa deanery; from November 1901, administrator of the parish in Bykhov; from February 1907, of the parish in Rykov. June 30, 1910 – punished by the authorities for baptizing the child of a mixed marriage. From June 1910 – vicar of St. Catherine parish in St. Petersburg; from 1912, head of the chapel in Aleksandrovsk beyond Nevsky Gate; in 1914 became pastor of the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, under construction in St. Petersburg. In March 1923 – arrested in Moscow in a case against Catholic clergy (Cieplak et al.). March 21-26 – open trial, at which Father Teofilis was sentenced to three years in prison [Military Tribunal]. From 1923 to 1926 he was in Sokolnicheskaya [Lubyanka?] and Lefortovo prisons. Released from prison in January 1926; returned to his parish and became administrator of the parish in Kolpino outside Leningrad. As the result of Bishop Malecki’s repeated appeals to Rome to have Father Teofilis designated his co-adjutor, on December 8, 1928, he was appointed titular bishop of the historic diocese of Matrega on Taman Peninsula; on February 9, 1929 – clandestinely consecrated bishop by Bishop Malecki. November 24, 1929 – arrested in Leningrad in a case against Catholic clergy and laity. Charged with “illegal contacts with persons abroad, through the Lithuanian ambassador; and leadership of an underground nationalistic-chauvinistic Latvian school at Novinka Station.” September 13, 1930 – sentenced under Articles 58-6, 58-10, 58-12, 121 and 122 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camps [OGPU Collegium]. Sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp; later transferred to Anzer Island, where, on July 22, 1932, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy, who were charged with “creation of an anti-Soviet group carrying out anti-Soviet agitation, clandestinely conducting theological and religious rites and actualizing an illegal contact with a free person for transmittal abroad of information of an espionage character about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” At his interrogation during the investigation, he stated “I categorically refuse to reveal whose confessions I heard, as I have no right to do so.” The investigators requested that his case be sent for disposition to a Special Board of the OGPU for the Leningrad Military District, as one of the “leaders who had very boldly and daringly led the group of priests.” May 27, 1933 – sentenced under Article 58-10 to one year of penalty isolation [OGPU Collegium]. September 26, 1933 – released from prison and sent to Lithuania as part of a prisoner exchange; he then went to Rome and met with Pope Pius XI. Upon returning to Lithuania he occupied various positions in the Diocese of Kaunas; at the beginning of the 1940s he became Bishop of Kaishiadorys. He remained in his diocese after the annexation of Lithuania to the USSR and during the German occupation. December 18, 1946 after the return of the Red Army and the establishment of the Soviet regime – Bishop Matulianis was arrested. June 4, 1947 – presented with the indictment, which stated “using his religious rank as bishop he published and distributed among the clergy subject to him letters and circulars calling for an energetic fight with the Soviet regime. Knowing that some of the priests subject to him had contact with resistance units [“bandits”], he enabled them to conduct anti-Soviet work and he hid them from arrest; he acquired, read and kept anti-Soviet literature in his own apartment.” September 27, 1947 – sentenced under Articles 58-1(a), 58-10 and 58-11 to seven years in prison with confiscation of property [Special Board, USSR Ministry of State Security]. Sent [at age seventy-four!] to Siblag; later transferred to a camp in Vladimir oblast; May 28, 1954 – released and sent to a facility for the disabled. May 5, 1956 – released from the facility; returned to Lithuania. Appealed to the authorities for permission to govern his diocese, but permission was refused. He lived in isolation in Sheduva. December 25, 1957 – he clandestinely consecrated Father Vincentas Sladkevicius, MIC, bishop. Pope John XXIII recognized his service by raising him to the rank of archbishop. August 20, 1962 – died. Buried in Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral of Kaishiadorys. The cause for his beatification was opened in 1990. Sources: Archive of the Directorate of FSB for St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 3155; Dzwonkowski (1998), pp. 351-353; Nowicki, p. 7; Osipova (1996), p. 183; Investigatory Matter 547540 and 590614, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Investigatory Matter 218176, Archive of Ministry of Internal Affairs, Lithuania; Shkarovskii, p. 230
Variant Names:
Matulianis, Teofilis; Matulianis, Teofilis (Feofil) Iur'evich; Matulenis, Teofilis Iur'evich
Ukmergė (Lithuania); Daugavpils (Latvia); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Varakl̦āni (Latvia); Anzerski Island (Russia); Kaunas (Lithuania); Šeduva (Lithuania)
male; clergy and religious; survived