Saints Casimir, George and Bartholomew
As noted in previous posts it's not a new altar but an old one (almost 100 years); it's just new here, having come a long way from its origin in Saint George's Parish, or rather, Šv. Jurgio Parapija, in Cleveland OH. The tale of the oldest Lithuanian parish in North America closing is a sad one, but it did benefit us with a beautiful East-facing altar, plus a quite remarkable letter from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, which Fr. Davis read to the Parish today, and most of all a wonderful visit from members of the Lithuanian-American community here in Seattle, one of whom came in (beautiful!) traditional dress.
The Lithuanians need not fear -- we will treasure this altar. And the "ŠJ" (Šv. Jurgio, not St. Joseph as somebody suggested) on the frontal will be a reminder of its origin. (Somehow we need to capture all of this for our permanent archives.)
Our visitors were wonderful, and through them we started learning about Lithuania and how noteworthy it was that our first service with this altar was on Palm Sunday. The story, even the excerpt of Prince Casimir and the Palm Branches of Vilius translated (along with the title) and inserted in the bulletin, is a bit long for this blog, but it notes that Lithuanians and Poles honor their patron Saint Casimir on March 4th (with Casimir's Fair called Kazimierinės, if I have it right -- hmmm... St. Casimir is not on our Ordo Kalendar, but perhaps St. Bartholomew's can add it to our Kalendar, shortly after Saints David and Chad), the anniversary of his death. The tie-in is that, not having palm trees, the Lithuanians created the "verba" (singular, plural "verbos"), made of tree cuttings, leaves, moss, berries and flowers. The verbos in folklore, art and tradition is likened to the Tree of Life, and these are made during the winter for Palm Sunday.
Out visitors brought other special items, which may have come from St. George's, including a stole worn by Fr. Davis for this service, a Lithuanian flag and other items such as this plaque.
(It must be my year for St. George -- when I went to look at the pictures on the camera I accidentally pressed the "forward" button instead of "back" and what came up was this photo, from our visit to St. George's in Paris last month!)
At the conclusion of the service, one of our visitors read a traditional hymn to Mary for us. She wasn't in voice to sing it, but there weren't many dry eyes after. It touched one of our younger members especially (who had had a really difficult well), so she gave the sheet. I asked for a copy via e-mail -- only to learn later the recipient was a family member! So it is posted here, in both Lithuanian and English.
Our Lithuanian visitors were wonderful folk. I hope, as Fr. Davis suggested, we will see more of them -- here, there or wherever.