“In April, we were invited to speak on a national TV channel and on a national radio about the event we were organising,” Vilhelmina Kalinauskiene, General Secretary of the Lithuanian Bible Society (LBS), tells us.
16th century hand-written Bible
The event was the donation by the Bible Society of a facsimile of the first translation of the Bible into Lithuanian, which was done by hand by Jonas Bretkunas in the 16th century and was never printed, and an exhibition in the library of Vilnius University of old Bibles so precious they are never shown to the public.
This was first made possible by a wonderful gift from the German Bible Society who, several months ago, gave a few copies of the seven volumes of the facsimile to the LBS.
The BSL decided to present one of those copies to the library of Vilnius University. This led to the idea of organising an exhibition where people could see the history of Bible translations, and several very old Lithuanian Bibles. Vilnius University has the originals of the most important publications in this field, but they are treasured so much that they were never shown to the general public. “It was the first time all of us ever saw the first printed Lithuanian Bible (1735),” says Mrs Kalinauskiene.
A donation tradition
As planned, during the opening of the exhibition on April 12, a facsimile of the first Lithuanian translation of the Bible was donated to the library of Vilnius University.
“Our University library was established in 1570 and its first books were donated to the library,” said Irena Krivienė, Director General of Vilnius University library. “It is so nice and encouraging to see that this great tradition of donating such valuable books is still alive.”
The opening included a scientific conference where three lecturers invited by the Bible Society – Dr Gina Kavaliūnaitė, Dr Aldona Prašmantaitė and Dr Giedrius Saulytis – spoke about interesting facts, sometimes unheard of, of the history of Bible translation into Lithuanian.
“This library is famous for having plenty of readers, so I am sure this Bible will be used and studied”, said Dr Aldona Prašmantaitė.
TV and radio programs
A national TV channel filmed the exhibition and included it in their morning show, and Mrs Kalinauskiene and the three experts were invited by a national radio station to discuss the importance and uniqueness of the exhibition in their program “Morning Allegro”. Evaldas Grigonis, the librarian from the rare publications department at Vilnius University library, also joined them. A Catholic radio station, Radio Maria, recorded and broadcast all the speeches. Finally, a few internet media portals also talked about the exhibition.
“We are really excited that this exhibition and donation gave rise to such considerable interest,” Mrs Kalinauskiene says. “Now we are preparing for our next big event – the award ceremony of ‘Living pictures’, our national contest in which schoolchildren send photos related to the Bible and Christian values.”
ARTICLE BY CLAIRE BEDOT