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A monument to the first Lithuanian who landed in India in 1625 will be unveiled in Old Goa this Sunday
This coming Sunday, on August 23, a memorial stone dedicated to Andrius Rudamina, the first Lithuanian who landed in India in 1625, will be unveiled in Old Goa.
A white marble stone marker, commemorating Rudamina’s arrival in India 390 years ago, will be installed in the courtyard of the Se Cathedral, by the side of the monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Daman will unveil the memorial stone, with the participation of Lithuanian Ambassador to India Laimonas Talat-Kelpša as Chief Guest.
A Lithuania-born Jesuit missionary, Andrius Rudamina (spelled Andrzej Rudomina in Polish and Andree Rudomina in Latin) arrived in Goa on August 22, 1625.
Born in 1596 on the outskirts of Vilnius, the capital of the then Grand Duchy of Lithuania, he graduated from the Vilnius Jesuit College and later studied in Western Europe (Germany and Belgium).
After returning to Lithuania in 1618, he joined the Jesuit Order and a few years later was sent to the Collegium Romanum (now Gregorian University) in Rome to continue his studies.
In 1623, Rudamina was ordained a priest together with his close friend Motiejus Sarbievijus (Maciej Sarbiewski), a famous Lithuanian poet of that time, who had earned the title of “the last Latin poet” of Europe.
Overwhelmed by a deep sense of mission, Rudamina kept pressing the Jesuit leadership to send him out on a mission to the Orient, a request that was ultimately granted.
Thus, in 1624 he departed for Lisbon, from where he took a boat to the Indies, in the spring of 1625. After 5 months of sailing, he finally reached Goa on August 22.
The exact date of Rudamina’s landing in India is mentioned in a letter of his contemporary, Fr. Benedict de Matos, the Jesuit Provincial Superior of the Fuzhou province of China, whereby the latter informs the superiors of the Order about Rudamina’s death. The letter was delivered from Macau to Rome in 1638 by a Polish Jesuit, Albert Menczynski.
The date is also upheld in the treatise “O odmiane państw” (On Variety of States), published in Vilnius in 1652, which is currently deposited at the Vrublevskių Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The same is also mentioned in an anonymous notebook dating back to 1751, which was found in the archives of the Lithuanian National Library of Martynas Mažvydas.
Rudamina spent less than a year in India. Having contracted malaria, he was transferred to China, a milder climate country, in 1626, where he stayed till the end of his days.
Rudamina died on September 5, 1631 in Fuzhou, China, and was buried there.
The erection of the memorial stone to the first Lithuanian who landed in India is a noble initiative of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, strongly supported by the Lithuanian Embassy in New Delhi.
The materials relating to Rudamina’s life were provided by a prominent researcher, Dr. Liudas Jovaiša, as well as the Vrublevskių Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Lithuanian National Library Martynas Mažvydas.