A Brief History of Romuva in Lithuania
The name for our faith was chosen by Jonas Trinkūnas who was the first Krivis of the modern Lithuanian interpretation of the ancient Baltic faith now known as Romuva. In 1969 while Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union and Trinkūnas was a professor at Vilnius University, he started an ethnographic and folklore group called Ramuva that would be the foundation of what would become Romuva. Four years later, he was expelled from the university for “national activities.” He would not return to the university until 17 years later, after Lithuania declared its independence in 1990.
After Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost loosened censorship, Romuva was allowed to re-form in 1988 and became actively involved in the quest for independence. In 1992, Romuva registered as a religious community with the newly independent Lithuania. In 2002, multiple local communities joined together to form Lietuvos Romuva and Trinkūnas was elected Krivis.
Romuva has grown tremendously since then and is now the largest “non-traditional” religion in Lithuania. Our work to be recognized as a “traditional” religion in Lithuania was blocked by a last-minute appeal of a Catholic bishop to the seimas (Lithuanian parliament). An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was successful in 2021 and Romuva is still working to achieve this designation.
In 2014, Jonas Trinkūnas joined the ancestors and subsequently his wife, Inija Trinkūnienė, was elected Krivė to succeed him.
Romuva in North America
In 1990, Trinkūnas appointed Jonas Stundžia as Seniūnas of Romuva Boston. Over the years, he has led many gatherings on the East Coast of the U.S.
In 1992, Audrius Vilius Dundzila, based in Chicago, incorporated Romuva in Wisconsin. He had led Romuva in Kaunas for some time, so he brought a wealth of knowledge and strong faith to the U.S. Romuva Chicago had a modest but faithful following for many years. When Dundzila retired as Seniūnas, he appointed Kazė Kazlauskienė as Seniūnė and she served until 2012. At that time, Trinkūnas named Kimo Arbas as Vaidila of Romuva North America. He served until 2021.
About 1992, Lana Vytė formed Romuva Canada. She published the print journal Sacred Serpent which featured many articles about Romuva, Dievturi (Latvian) and Rodzimy Kościół Polski (Polish) native faiths as well as assisting Dundzila with his print journal Romuva. Both journals have ceased publishing. She retired as Seniūnė at the beginning of the 21st century and Bernie Abromaitis took her place.
In 1998, a Yahoo Group was formed to discuss, disseminate, and plan for Romuva North America. Until Yahoo discontinued Groups in 2019, it was moderated by Marytė Kuncaitis and Jūratė (Leslie) Rzeznik. Kunčaitis formed the first Romuva Facebook group in 2007. Kuncaitis, Rzeznik, and Prudence Priest have led many workshops over the years at various pagan conferences, spreading the word of our faith.
1n 1999, World Romuva was formed by Trinkūnas, Stundžia, and Valdas Rutkūnas. This allowed groups in the diaspora to be formally connected to Lietuvos Romuva. Romuva North America was officially accepted in 2016.
In July of 2020. Romuva North America was incorporated as an “ecclesiastical organization” (church) in the state of Michigan, giving it legal recognition throughout the United States. And in June of 2021, Seniunė Jūratė Rzeznik performed the first official marriage of Romuva North America. The launch and ongoing development of this website is yet another step in preserving our traditions and growing community.
The board consists of Jūratė Rzeznik, Marytė Kuncaitis, Laura Juozunas, and Bernie Abromaitis. Prudence Priest and Vilius Dundzila serve as Special Advisors.