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Gruzdziai (Siauliai, Lithuania)

Last modified: 2003-07-05 by
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Here is information from the booklet: DISTRICT OF SIAULIAI AND ITS CONTEMPORARY HERALDRY [lal02]:
"Gruzdziai - The estate on the present site of Gruzdziai is mentioned in the middle of the 16th century. In 1636 Kristupas Gruzdys, vaitas of Silenai, built a Lutheran church, which burned down at the beginning of the 17th century. It is believed that the name Gruzdziai came from the surname Gruzdys. In 1676 there were 40 households and 33 pubs were opened. In 1699 a Catholic church was built. Gruzdziai was burned down in 1649 and destroyed during the 1700-1721 Northern War.
The Gruzdziai estate belonged to the family of count Platonas Zubovas from 1793 to 1858 and later to Aleksandras Naryskinas.
At the end of the 19th century the national movement strengthened in Gruzdziai. It may be linked with the personality of Prof. J. Sliupas, born in the village of Rakandziai, and other enlighteners: A. Baranauskas, M. Slanciauskas, A. Treciokas who took an active part in the movement. Outstanding writers M. Katiliskis, K. Almenas, A. Gricius, craftsman A. Gendvilas, painter A. Tycina were also born in the villages near Gruzdziai.
In 1910 a Catholic St. Trinity church was built. From 1923 an agricultural college, from 1934 a stud farm started functioning in the estate.
Presently the settlement with 32 villages has the population of 3,100.
St. Rokas' Church Festival has been the public event of the Gruzdziai population. St. Rokas used to pilgrim through Europe healing plague stricken people and in this way became the patron of the poor and sick.
Since Gruzdziai did not have a coat of arms, the one which was created depicts St. Rokas with a black cloak and hat, brown shoes and a bag holding a silver shell at his shoulder and a pilgrim's brown stick in his left hand on a field of gold. St. Rokas' body is flesh coloured, his beard and the right sleeve are silver. A black dog is to the left of the figure. The Gruzdziai coat of arms was designed by Raimondas Miknevicius and confirmed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania on August 19, 1999."
Audrius Slapsinskas, 24 June 2003