[Please note it says some of dukes were Orthodox, the Lithuanians themselves were not baptised en masse until Jagiello.]
What it says is -
"Until the middle of the fifteenth century, more than 40 Lithuanian dukes were Orthodox believers, one of them, duke Daumantas received an Orthodox name of Timothy and became canonized by the Orthodox Church."
More than 40 is hardly what one would call SOME.
Here is a response from the Indiana.list regarding this subject that I am posting with the permission of the writer. Guess as he says, it depends on how you want to look at it historically or in light of todays reality.
Once again, there is no doubt that what was considered as historical Lithuania from the 10th century until the creation of the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom had a majority of Orthodox Catholic population and the majority of the aristocracy were Orthodox.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Regarding your question about Orthodox Christianity in Lithuania,
it depends on what you mean by "Lithuania." In an ethnic sense,
Lithuania is a small country on the Baltic Sea inhabited by
Lithuanians, a people of Baltic stock. In a historical sense,
Lithuania was a multiethnic empire that included today's
Lithuania, Belarus and western Ukraine, whose full name was the
"Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Samogitia and Rus'" and counted Balts,
Jews, Slavs and even Tartars among its inhabitants.
For a long time, many Belarusians described themselves as
"litviny" or "lits'viny" ("Lithuanians"); "Litvin" or "Lits'vin"
remains a common family name there. Jews from Belarus were called
"Litvaks" ("Lithuanians") in Yiddish, as opposed to Jews from
Ukraine, who were called "Galitzianers" ("Galicians," from the
western Ukrainian region of Galicia). Even today, in the
Belarusian-Ukrainian borderland of Pales'sye, where the Prypiats'
Marshes have enforced a sense of physical isolation where many
cultural and historical archaicisms persist, Ukrainian speakers
still refer to their Belarusian-speaking neighbors as "lytvyny"
("Lithuanians"). And you may recall from history that the western
Belarusian city of Brest, nowhere near Lithuanian ethnic
territory, was called Brest-Litowsk ("Lithuanian Brest") into the
20th century, to distinguish it from another Brest in Poland.
When ancient Rus', which was a network of principalities formed on
older East Slavic tribal lines and Scandanavian Viking trade
routes (rather than a monolithic nation-state in the modern
sense), broke up due to the incursion of Mongol forces from Asia,
it created a geopolitical vacuum in the area. The Lithuanian
Balts advanced from the north into what is now Belarus, and the
local East Slavs for the most part welcomed them, to remain free
of the Mongols. (Earlier in primitive times, much of Belarus was
inhabited by Balts whom the Slavs assimilated during their
expansion in Eastern Europe, so there was some kinship and
previous contact there.) Through military alliances and dynastic
marriages, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Samogitia and Rus' came
into being. At its height, it stretched from the Baltic Sea to
the Black Sea.
When this state came into being, the East Slavs had the upper hand
culturally. Having previously converted to Orthodox Christianity,
they had a written language, a legal system, and a sense of
statehood and European civilization. The Balts were still pagan,
had no written language and were tribal in organization. As a
result, the East Slavic element, through intermarriage, political
expediency and diplomatic capabilities, ended up playing a major
role in the grand duchy. As a matter of fact, an old form of
Belarusian actually became the official state language. Their
religious influence was felt too: many Lithuanian Balts ended up
converting to Orthodox Christianity. (It should be noted that
many of the leading Balts were quite fickle in terms of religion
though, switching between Orthodox Christianity and Roman
Catholicism or reverting to paganism whenever it suited their
political and military ambitions vis-a-vis their Slavic and
So between the Baltic and East Slavic elements in the Grand Duchy
of Lithuania, Samogitia and Rus', it is no exaggeration to say
that Orthodox Christians were the vast majority of its citizenry
in its early days. Things began to change when the grand duchy,
in response to the expansion of Mongol and Muscovite Russian
forces, began to pursue a relationship with neighboring Poland,
first through dynastic intermarriage and later through political
union. It eventually became part of a new confederation, the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which became less and less of an
equal partnership as time wore on. The Poles gained the upper
hand, and their Roman Catholicism, language and culture began to
predominate more and more. In the process, the Lithuanian Balts,
still pagan, nominal or freshly converted, began to identify more
heavily with Roman Catholicism and Polish culture, since it
offered more political, legal and economic advantages. With the
rise of modern nationalism, they asserted their own Lithuanian
language and identity, but kept the Roman Catholicism intact, for
the most part.
But Orthodox Christianity has long roots in Lithuania. Your
friend may have even heard of Saints Anthony, John and Eustathius
of Vilnius. (The city of Vilnius straddles an ethnic borderland
of Belarusians, Lithuanians and Poles; my maternal grandmother's
family, Orthodox Christian Belarusians, hailed from the Vil'nya --
as it is called in Belarusian -- region. My parents were married
in a Brooklyn, New York parish founded by immigrants from Vil'nya,
Hrodna and Minsk.) These saints were 12th-century soldier
converts to Orthodox Christianity who were martyred by pagan
members of the Lithuanian military establishment when their
fasting habits gave away their new faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
for which they readily laid down their lives, rather than give it
up. (I'm not sure if they were Balts or Slavs.) Their holy
relics are enshrined in the city's Holy Spirit Monastery, a major
destination for Orthodox Christian Belarusian and Lithuanian
pilgrims. The Church honors their holy memory on April 14. They
are greatly venerated among Orthodox Christians in both countries;
after Saint Euphrosyne of Polatsk, I'd venture they're among the
most popular saints in Belarus. They are the patrons of the
brotherhood at the Minsk cathedral well-known for its
catechetical, liturgical and publishing work in the Belarusian
One final interesting tidbit: After his ministry as North
America's first archbishop, Saint Tikhon the New Confessor was
bishop of Vilnius during World War I, when the region was occupied
by Germany, before his election as patriarch of Moscow and primate
of the Church in Russia. He was well-known there for his
magnaminous spirit and tireless efforts to provide relief and
support for the war-torn population of the region.
I hope this background information proves helpful and interesting
With prayers and good will,