Date today: 29.03.2020  |  Name days: Nanija, Ilgmārs, Igmārs

History of Church in Latvia

Christianity in Latvia spread at the end of the 12th century when augustinian monk Meinhard of Segeberg started preaching the Gospel to the Baltic tribes. In 1185 the first stone church was built in Ikskile. In 1186 Meinhard was consecrated as bishop of Ikskile and remained in his position until his death in 1196. In the 14th century his relics were reburied in Riga Cathedral. Saint Meinhard is the first Latvian apostle and saint (since 8 September, 1993).

With the spread of Christianity in the current territory of Latvia, bishop Meinhard devoted his mission work to Virgin Mary. During the Lateran Council IV in 1215 pope Innocent III gave Livonia the title of “Terra Mariana” (Land of Mary) promising to care for it as for the Land of His Son – Palestine.

11th century

1048 – Danes build the first church in Kurzeme.

12th century

1184 – canon regular Meinhard of Segeberg arrives in territories inhabited by Livs and learns local language. After getting permission from Woldemar (Vladimir Vseslavich), Prince of Polotsk, he starts to preach the christian faith. He also starts to build the church and stone foretress in Ikskile to defend himself and Livs.

1186 – Hartwig II, bishop of Bremen, consecrates Meinhard as bishop of the newly established bishopric of Ikskile devoted to the Virgin Mary Assumed into Heaven.

1187 – in honor of St. Martin, Meinhard builds another church in Salaspils.

1188 – pope Clement III incorporates the bishopric of Ikskile into the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen.

1196 – bishop Meinhard dies and is buried in the church of Ikskile.

1196 – Meinhard's associate Berthold of Hanover becomes the next bishop of Ikskile.

1199 – archbishop of Bremen appoints his canon Albert of Buxhoeveden the third bishop of Ikskile.

13th century

1201 bishop Albert moves episcopal see to Riga.

1202 – to protect Christians, bishop Albert establishes the military order called Livonian Brothers of the Sword.

1203 – Cistercian monastery is established in Daugavgriva.  

1203 – Kaupo of Turaida, the leader of Livs and the first prominent Livonian to be baptized, escorted by monk Theoderic, visits pope Innocent III in Rome.

1207 – Idumeans, people living between the territories of Livs and Latgalians, are the first ones who adopt the Christian faith.

1208 – bishopric of Selonia is established.

1211 – bishop Albert consecrates the new cathedral of bishopric and devotes it to the Virgin Mary Assumed into Heaven (St. Māra).

1214 – pope Innocent III disunites the diocese of Riga from Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen and subjects it directly to Rome. The leaders of Tālava converts from Orthodox to Catholic faith.

1215 – in the Lateran Council IV, where bishop Albert takes part, pope Innocent III devotes Livonia to Virgin Mary calling it “Terra Mariana” (Land of Mary).

1219 – pope Honorius III takes newly baptized in Livonia in defense of St. Peter.

1225 – papal legate William of Modena arrives in Riga.

1226 – the first Synod of Livonia takes place in Riga Cathedral, the Lateran Council IV decisions are applied to Livonia. Bishopric of Semigallia is established incorporating the bishopric of Selonia. 

1229 – bishop Albert dies.

1230 – 1253 – the diocese of Livonia is managed by bishop Nikolaus of Nauen.

1233 – bishopric of Courland is established. Franciscan monastery is founded in Riga.

1234 – Dominican monastery is founded in Riga.

1236 – joint Lithuanian and Semigallian troops destroy Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The remains of it are incorporated into the German Order and formed into local branch called Livonian Order.

1245 – pope Innocent IV in his bull threatens to punish Livonian Order because of suppression of newly baptized Christians.

1255 – bishop of Riga Albert II Suerbeer becomes an archbishop. Riga Metropolia now has 3 bishoprics in Livonia (Courland, Dorpat, Osel-Wiek) and four bishoprics in Prussia.

14th century

1393 – Archbishopric and Cathedral Chapter are incorporated into the Livonian Order. 

15th century

1422 – Livonian Landtag (Archbishop Johannes VI Ambundii) is held in Valka and law to apply decisions of Council of Constance in Livonia is adopted.

1428 – 1437 – Archbishop Henning Scharpenberg holds Synods that accomplish Statutes of Province of Riga. 

16th century

1521 – Andreas Knöpken begins to preach Lutheranism at St. Peter’s church in Riga.

10 March 1524 – members of the Brotherhood of Blackheads destroy their altar in St. Peter’s church. Following their example, the crowd destroys icons and altars in St. Peter’s church and in St. James’s church.

2 April 1524 – all monks and Catholic priests are cast out of Riga.

1539 – archbishop Thomas Schöning dies. His functions are taken over by Wilhelm von Brandenburg, brother of Albert, Duke of Prussia.

1561 – Livonia ceases to exist and bishoprics are secularized.

1563 – last archbishop of Riga Wilhelm von Brandenburg dies.

1582 – Stephen Bathory, King of Poland, gives back to Catholics St. James’s church and St. Mary Magdalene’s church in Riga. Jesuits come to Riga. Bishopric of Wenden (Cēsis) is established.

1585 – the first printed book in Latvian, Catholic Catechism by Peter Canisius, SJ, is published. 

17th century

1603 – Gregorian calendar is adopted in Livonia. Jesuit father Teknons from Wenden (Cēsis) visits Latgale, Rezekne municipality, for the first time.

1611 – Church Synod to implement decisions of the Council of Trent is held in Riga by bishop of Wenden (Cēsis) Otto Schenking.

1614 – Jesuit residence in Wenden (Cēsis) is established.

1617 – Catholics get freedom in Duchy of Courland.

1620 – significant Catholic authority, Jesuit father Erdmann Tolgsdorf, dies in Wenden (Cēsis).

1621 – Vidzeme is taken over by Swedes and Jesuits are cast out.

1628 – Jesuits settle in Latgale, Daugavpils.

1628 – bishopric of Wenden (Cēsis) is moved to Daugavpils.

1660 – Jesuit collegium is established in Skaistkalne.

1661 – Jesuit collegium is formed in Daugavpils.

1672 – Eiger, book writer for Catholics, dies in Daugavpils. Jesuit collegium is established in Jelgava.

1683 – bishop Mikolaj Poplawski establishes his episcopal see in Daugavpils.

1694 – Dominican monastery is founded in Pasiene.

1690 – Jesuits settle in Ilukste.

1699 – Dominican monastery is founded in Aglona. 

18th century

1721 – Jesuits start to serve in Hylzen’s mission in Dagda. Here also serves famous Latvian missionary and book writer father Mihails Rots.

1730 – Jesuits start their mission in Indrica.

1743 – Szadurski’ Jesuit mission starts in Puša.

1753 – Bernardines found their monastery in Viļāni.

1757 – 1843 – Seminary run by Lazarists is settled in Kraslava.

1798 – diocese of Livonia-Courland-Piltene ceases to exist. Latgale is added to archdiocese of Mogilev; Courland and Semigallia – to diocese of Samogitia (now Kaunas). 

19th century

1830 – Russian Tsar’s authorities close down Dominican monastery in Pasiene and Bernardine monastery in Viļāni.

1840 – monastery in Aglona is transformed into detention centre for priests.

1863 – Russian Tsar’s authorities cease all direct communications between bishops and Rome; church processions, religious organizations and catechesis are prohibited; building of new churches is not allowed; people are not allowed to help priests; men can enter the seminary only with the governor’s permission; Latgalians are prohibited to print books. 

20th century

1905 – tsar issues edict of “tolerance” that abolish all restrictions for Catholic Church.

1908 – the first edition of Latvian Catholic newspaper “Dryva” is published.

29 September 1918 – pope Benedict XV renews the diocese of Riga.

1918 – 1920 – the diocese of Riga is renewed. The first bishop of the renewed diocese is Edward O’Rourke.

22 August 1920 – the next bishop of the diocese of Riga Antonijs Springovičs is consecrated in Aglona.

1920 – Catholic Seminary is founded in Aglona.

1921 – Catholic Gymnasium for boys is opened in Aglona.

1922 – The Concordat is signed between Latvian government and the Holy See. Bishop Antonijs Springovičs is appointed the first archbishop of Riga. 

1923 – St. James’s church is given back to Catholics by Latvian government and becomes cathedral.

1924 – Jāzeps Rancāns is consecrated as auxiliary bishop. Congregation of Marian Fathers settles in Viļāni.

1926 – pope establishes Apostolic Internunciature of Latvia that is run by archbishop Antonino Zecchini. The first edition of the magazine “Katoļu Dzeive” is published.

1927 – Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus settle in Jaunaglona. Also gymnasium for girls is opened there.

1929 – Capuchin monastery is established in Skaistkalne.

1933 – Capuchin monastery is established in Riga.

1937 – pope Pius XI establishes diocese of Liepaja and appoints Antonijs Urbšs as its first bishop. Antonijs Springovičs becomes metropolitan archbishop.

19 – 21 August 1937 – Synod of Province of Riga takes place in the Seminary of Riga and Statutes of Province of Riga are established. The Seminary of Riga is attached to the University of Latvia as the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology.

1938 – Jesuit Collegium is founded at St. Francis church in Riga.

1942 – 1944 – at the beginning of the German occupation Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology is run in Aglona for 1st and 2nd year students, and from 1943, for 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th year students, in Riga.

1944 – bishops Jāzeps Rancāns, Antonijs Urbšs and Boļeslavs Sloskāns are ordered to leave Latvia.

1945 – all monasteries and religious organizations are closed. Parish committees are elected, they take over the economic life of churches and make open-ended and gratuitous church lease agreements with executive committees.

1946 – The Seminary of Riga is run at St. Francis church in Riga.  

25 July 1947 – Antonijs Springovičs consecrates as auxiliary bishops Pēteris Strods and Kazimirs Dulbinskis. Bishop Pēteris Strods takes over the leadership of the diocese of Liepaja.

1 October 1958 – metropolitan archbishop Antonijs Springovičs dies. The apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja becomes bishop Pēteris Strods.

5 August 1960 – bishop Pēteris Strods dies. Consultors elect the dean of Rezekne Julijans Začests as administrator of the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja. 

29 November 1960 – pope John XXIII appoints the dean Julijans Začests apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja.

1962 – as vicar general of the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja is appointed Julijans Vaivods.

1964 – Julijans Vaivods takes part in the Second Vatican Council in Rome. On 18 November 1964 Julijans Vaivods is consecrated as bishop in the chapel of St. Peter’s basilica. Pope Paul VI appoints him apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja, he becomes a member of the Synod of Bishops and of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law.

12 November 1972 – as metropolitan auxiliary bishop of Riga is consecrated rector of the Seminary of Riga Valerijans Zondaks. His consecration takes place in Rome.

12 December 1982 – Jānis Cakuls is consecrated as bishop in St. James’s cathedral.

2 February 1983 – bishop and administrator of Riga Metropolis Julijans Vaivods is appointed cardinal by pope John Paul II.

27 September 1986 – bishop Valerijans Zondaks dies.

8 September 1987 – In St. Albert’s church cardinal Julijans Vaivods consecrates the newly appointed bishop Vilhelms Ņukšs. Conconsecrators are bishops Kazimirs Dulbinskis and Jānis Cakuls.

29 September 1988 – cardinal Julijans Vaivods, bishop Jānis Cakuls and notary of the Curia Zigfrīds Naglis sign requirement, organised by Popular Front of Latvia, that the official state language should be Latvian.

25 October 1988 – Catholics are allowed to issue the magazine “Katoļu Dzeive”.

3 April 1989 – employees of the Metropolitan Curia of Riga request to rehabilitate cardinal Julijans Vaivods and to give back the Church books written by him.

12 June 1989 – cardinal Julijans Vaivods is rehabilitated.

14 August 1989 – for the first time the whole Mass is celebrated in Latvian in Aglona by bishop Vilhelms Ņukšs. After the Mass the bishop consecrates the flag of Latvia and in the evening, for the first time after the Second World War, procession takes place around the cross in the sacred square. 

1989 – 1993 – renovation works are done in Aglona, reconstructing Basilica and convent.

24 May 1990 – cardinal Julijans Vaivods dies.

Summer 1990 – first catechist formation courses are offered that may be considered as the beginning of Catechetical Institute. 

8 May 1991 – pope John Paul II restores Riga Metropolis as ecclesiastical province and appoints Jānis Pujats as metropolitan archbishop of Riga and Jānis Bulis as bishop of Liepaja.

August 1992 – newly constructed building of the Seminary of Riga is officially open to students.

27 February 1993 – bishop VIlhelms Ņukšs dies during his visit in Rome.

8 – 9 September 1993 – pope John Paul II visits Latvia.

10 October 1993 – the relics of bishop Boļeslavs Sloskāns are brought from Belgium and reburied in the crypt of the Basilica of the Assumption in Aglona. 

5 March 1994 – first meeting of Perpetual Rosary. 

1 August 1994 – Legion of Mary is established. 

August 1994 – first edition of “Catholic Church Messenger” is published. 

2 December 1995 – the Holy See announces the decree that divides Latvian Catholics into 4 dioceses: archdiocese of Riga (Vidzeme), diocese of Liepaja (Courland), diocese of Rezekne-Aglona (Latgale) and diocese of Jelgava (Semigallia). At the same time new bishops are nominated, both professors at the Seminary of Riga – Antons Justs and Ārvaldis Andrejs Brumanis.

6 January 1996 – pope John Paul II consecrates bishops Antons Justs and Ārvaldis Andrejs Brumanis in Rome.

19 June 1996 – first Catholic church, St. Lawrence’s church in Limbazi, consecrated in Latvia since regaining its independence. 

15 November 1997 – Bishops’ Conference of Latvia is established.

2 December 1997 – apostolic nuncio Erwin Joseph Ender presents Credentials to the President of Latvia Guntis Ulmanis.

1998 – first Latvian Youth Day in local level is held in Riga. 

23 November 1999 – Metropolitan Seminary of Riga becomes an affiliate of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University.

21st century

22 January 2000 – Catechetical Institute is incorporated into the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University and from now on is known as Riga Higher Institute of Religious Sciences. 

25 January 2000 – Vilhelms Lapelis is nominated bishop and coadjutor for the bishop of the diocese of Liepaja Ārvaldis Andrejs Brumanis by pope John Paul II. 

25 March 2000 – Vilhelms Lapelis is consecrated at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Liepaja.

8 November 2000 – an agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Holy See is signed. 

12 May 2001 – Vilhelms Lapelis becomes bishop of Liepaja.

29 July-1 August 2001 – I Latvian Youth Day takes place in Aglona.

25 September 2001 – Metropolitan Archbishop of Riga Jānis Pujats participates in veneration of Jānis Pommers, archbishop of Latvian Orthodox Church, first and only saint of Latvian origin.

18-21 July 2003 – II Latvian Youth Day takes place in Madona.

10 November 2004 – Caritas Latvija is established.

16 July 2005 – cornerstone of Carmelite convent in Ikskile is laid. It is the first contemplative convent in Latvia since 16th century.

14 April 2006 – first ecumenical Way of the Cross takes place through the streets of Old Riga.

27 May 2006 – Cardinal Jānis Pujats participates in the worship service celebrated by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow during his visit in Latvia.

12-15 August 2006 – III Latvian Youth Day takes place in Aglona.

1-19 July 2007 – Relics of St. Therese of Lisieux are venerated.

13-15 August 2008 – IV Latvian Youth Day takes place in Aglona.

25 April 2009 – first Catholic Student Day takes place in Riga.

19 June 2010 – Pope Benedict XVI accepts resignation of metropolitan archbishop of Riga Jānis Pujats and appoints Zbigņevs Stankevičs as new archbishop.

8 August 2010 – Zbigņevs Stankevičs is consecrated as bishop.

13-15 August 2010 – V Latvian Youth Day takes place in Aglona.

21 August 2010 – Zbigņevs Stankevičs’s ingress at Riga Cathedral.

24 September 2010 – monument of St. Meinhard is founded in Ikskile.

1 May 2011 – on the beatification day of Pope John Paul II, conference “John Paul II – the messenger of the New World” is held in the University of Latvia.

10 September 2011 – Edvards Pavlovskis is consecrated as bishop of Jelgava.

20 June 2012 – Vilhelms Lapelis, bishop of Liepaja, resigns and apostolic administrator of the diocese of Liepaja becomes bishop Edvards Pavlovskis.

18 January 2013 – ecumenical St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene’s church in Igate is consecrated.

5 February 2013 - the Joint Conference of the Superiors of the Institutes of Consecrated Life in Latvia is established.

19-23 May 2013 - President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Kurt Koch visits Latvia.

7 September 2013 – Viktors Stulpins is consecrated as bishop of Liepaja.

3 October 2013 – street near Riga Catholic Gymnasium is dedicated to bishop Boļeslavs Sloskāns.

17 December 2013 – Ārvaldis Andrejs Brumanis, bishop emeritus of Liepaja, dies.

27 April 2014 – on canonization day of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, facsimile of the “Terra Mariana. 1186-1188” album is presented.

6 June 2014 – for the first time ecumenical event “Night of Churches” takes place in Riga.

27 July-8 August 2014 – people can spend time in prayer and silence in front of World Youth Day Cross in several places in Latvia.

26-28 September 2014 – Baltic Regional Meeting of Taize Community takes place in Riga.

24 September-2 November 2014 – for the first time ecumenical campaign “40 days for life” takes place.

12 December 2014 – Radio Marija Latvija is available on internet.

January 2015 – production of Christian TV programme “Vertikāle” and publication of magazine “Katoļu Dzeive” is suspended.

21 February 2015 – Enrico dal Covolo, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, visits Latvia.

29-30 May 2015 – international scientific conference “Terra Mariana 800: faith and public dialogue” is held in Riga.

18-20 September 2015 – VI Latvian Youth Day takes place in Aizkraukle. 

18-25 January 2016 – the world celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity for which daily meditations were prepared by Christians from Latvia.

11-13 May 2016 - Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, visits Latvia. 

8 December 2016 - Radio Marija Latvija available on FM frequencies - 97,3 in Riga, 97,1 in Liepāja and 97 in Krāslava.