The case of the Vilnius Saints from the anthropological point of view


  • Tomas Kačerauskas Vilnius Gediminas Technical University


urban anthropology, phenomenology, Sainthood in a city, political-religious environment, public and private spheres


The paper deals with an interdisciplinary anthropological investigation. I consider the phenomenon of Sainthood by reference to urban anthropology. In addition, analysing the visual aspects in the case of Sainthood cannot be separated from visual aspects. Finally, I appeal to the borderland (region) studies while analysing clashes between different confessions in such border cities as Vilnius. In taking an anthropological and phenomenological approach, I assert that the phenomena are real if they fall within the human experience, whether individual or social. In the paper, the theses are developed as follows. 1. As with phenomenology, anthropology deals with the emergence of visual phenomena instead of refusing the miracles as unscientific. For anthropology, every visual phenomenon is real if it takes place in one’s life. 2. The Saints also represent the symbolic walls or religious borders inside a city, inside a state and inside a region. 3. The life of a Saint should be extraordinary, and should provoke changes in the social order or even misunderstandings. 4. The canonization is like a narrow gate, not as much for the people as for the nations that have more or less political-religious weight. 5. The public cult of the Saints is inseparable from an identity of a particular city or state. 6. The declaration about the secular democratic state is double-dealing and leads to clashes between public and private spheres. 7. An anthropological approach means the way through heteronomous phenomena, instead of the way from generalization and unification. 8. Anthropological analysis of the Saints in a city integrates different theoretical approaches.