Divine Healers: Baroque Lithuanian Didacts of the Late 19th Century (Juozas Antanavičius, Serafinas Laurynas Kušeliauskas, Martynas Sederavičius, Antanas Vytartas) (Summary)

Mikas Vaicekauskas (PDF)

The most remarkable work of Late Baroque in Lithuanian literature is ‘Broma atverta ing viečnastį’ (The Gate Open to Eternity) by Mykolas Olševskis (ca. 1712 – ca. 1779). The book was dedicated to the theme of death. Because of its picturesque Baroque expression and the images of death, hell and suffering, it was extremely suggestive for the reader as the text was constructed according to the sermon principle with didactic examples inserted. First published in 1753, the book went through 17 editions until 1851. It was the most popular work of religious literature of an unpractical nature written in Lithuanian during the studied period.

The need to reprint the book was felt in the second half of the 19th century, but it never happened. While seeking to compensate for the lack of religious didactic literature during the ban of Lithuanian press in the 1870s and 1880s, three ‘devout old men’ from the Sudargas presbytery, Juozas Antanavičius (the mid-19th century – early 20th century), Serafinas Laurynas Kušeliauskas (1820–1889), Martynas Sederavičius (1829–1907) and Antanas Vytartas (1863–1932) began to write, translate, compile and publish books. The repertory of their books consisted of almost exclusively religious and religious­didactic literature, namely prayer books, catechisms, sermons, books on the themes of the suffering of Jesus Christ and the Holy Virgin Mary, lives of saints, apparitions and death and various religious and didactic readers. In the period of the ban on the Lithuanian press, they were a source of religious literature noted for their simple literary expression and language understandable to the ordinary reader.

Keywords: Lithuanian literature from the 18th through 19th century, Baroque, death reflection, sins, press ban