Patriarchal Exarchate of Lithuania

Coat of arms of the Exarchate of Lithuania

Patriarchal Exarchate of Lithuania or the Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Lithuania is an ecclesiastical province of the Eastern Orthodox Church that belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and includes the territory of the State of Lithuania.


From the 14th to the 17th centuries the Orthodox Church of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a part of Metropolis of Kyiv of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1686 Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius IV issued a synodal letter, which gave the Patriarch of Moscow a temporary right to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the clergy and faithful of his diocese. Eventually, the Kyiv Metropolis was illegally incorporated into the Moscow Patriarchate, and gradually there were no longer dioceses or parishes subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Lithuania.

In 1839 the Diocese of Lithuania of the Russian Orthodox Church (later renamed "Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania") was founded in the Russian Empire. Until 2022 this diocese was the only Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical structure in Lithuania (with exception of the period between1924-1939, when Orthodox Christians of Vilnius Region were under the jurisdiction of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church).

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow defrocked five priests from the diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania who expressed opposition to the patriarch's position regarding the war. Using the right of appeal, they turned to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who acquitted them on February 2023 and restored them in their priestly ministry. In March 2023, Patriarch Bartholomew paid an official visit to Lithuania. During it, the patriarch met with five restored priests and signed an agreement with the Lithuanian government, providing for the creation of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the country. 

In 2024 priest of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church Justinus Kiviloo was appointed as the Exarch of Lithuania. On January 6, Theophany Day, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by him in Vilnius.

The Exarchate includes ten parishes serving in Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian languages.


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