Holy Martyrs of Vilnius Anthony,John and Eustachy

Holy Martyrs of Vilnius

The Holy Martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustachy were martyred for the faith at the time of Olgerd, Grand Duke of Lithuania, about the year 1347.

Anthony and John were courtiers of the Grand Duke and, like most of the Lithuanian population at that time, pagans. The Holy Brothers were secretly baptised by orthodox priest Nestor.

They began living a Christian life and refused to follow the pagan practices. Once at a feast, when the Du­ke offered them to eat flesh on a fas­ting day (on Fri­day, on the eve of Christmas), Ant­hony and John re­fused, and they were therefore th­rown into a dun­geon.

After a year of imprisonment the junior brother John agreed to comply with the pagan practices and was the pagan practices and was set free. The Duke rejoiced at it and gave freedom to both brothers, both having reverted to their previous social positions. However, Anthony continued to firmly profess Orthodox Christianity and was again incarcerated.

John remained at the Duke’s court. On realising his sin, he repented and publicly decided himself a Christian, and, as a result, he was badly beaten and incarcerated once again. On seeing the martyrs’ sufferings and ardent faith, a lot ofpeople embraced Christianity. Pagan priests, annoyed thereby, applied to the Grand Duke with request to put Anthony and John to death.

About the year 1347 the Holy Martyr Anthony was hanged in the suburb of the city. Later the Duke ordered to execute the Holy Martyr John too.

Eustachy was a relative of the Holy Martyrs. Under impression of their faith he got baptized. He publicly professed to be a Christian and therefore went through a terrible martyrdom. On 13 december 1347 Eustachy was hanged in the same oak grove where Anthony and John ended their lives.

In 1374 the martyrs were reckoned among the saints.

Their memory is celebrated on 27 April (new style) and on 26 July, on which their relics were returned from Moscow to the Vilnius Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

Church and Monastery


The Monastery and Church of the Holy Spirit were founded in 1597 at the pains of the Orthodox Congregation of Vilnius.

In 1609, when the Royal Decree of all orthodox churches coming under the jurisdiction, of the Metropolitan of the Uniate Chuich was signed, the Congregation members succeeded in asserting their rights, and the Church and Monastery of the Holy Spirit remained the only institutions in Vilnius that belonged to the Orthodox Christians.

In 1634, instead of the old wooden church, a new stony one was erected, with the main altar in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and with the side altars in the name of the Apostle John Theologian and the Holy, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Constantin and Helen.

The church has been rebuilt more than once because of fire and many convulsions that have happened in the land of Lithuania and in the Orthodoxy.

By 1873 the church assumed the appearance that has virtually remained unchanged until now. The architectural style the Church of the Holy Spirit is Vilnius Baroque.

Our Lady’s Icon of Vilnius

For a long time the icon was an ancestral sanctity of the Byzantine emperors. According to the most wide-spread story, in 1472 the icon was brought to Moscow by Sophia Paleologue, who became the spouse of the Grand Duke of Moscow John III.

There exists another story in which the icon passed to the Grand Duke of Moscow from the Dukes of Galicia, who had once received it as a donation from Byzantine empe­rors.

In 1495 Grand Duke of Moscow blessed his daughter Helen with this icon when giving her in marriage to Alexander, Grand Duke of Lithuania. After the death of Helen the icon was placed over her sepulchre at the Church of the Most pure Virgin Mary in Vilnius.

In August 1915 the icon together with the relics of the Holy Martyrs of Vilnius was evacuated to the Donskoy Monastery of Moscow. Its subsequent fate is unknown.

At the Church of the Holy Spirit there is a copy of this icon, which is also a much worshiped sanctity of the monastery.

A celebration in honour of the icon is held on 27 April (new style) and 28 February, the day when the icon was transferred in Vilnius.


Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Aušros Vartų St. 10,

LT 013 03, Vilnius, Lithuania





Reliquary with Relics of the Martyrs

Interior of the Church of the Holy Spirit

Monastery of the Holy Spirit. A 19-th century lithograph

Copy of the Icon of Odigitria of Vilnius

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