Photo Credit: Jennifer Honig, April 1999. Note: a period photograph of Anykščiai can be roughly dated if the church is in the  photo.  Photographs taken prior to World War One show elaborate twin spires as they were originally built. Photos taken after 1928 show the spires as they are currently configured.   Oy Vey Iz Mir!  A Church in the Shtetl! St. Matthew the Apostle Just as one cannot easily overlook the proverbial elephant in the parlor, neither can one ignore a large Roman Catholic church in the middle of a Jewish shtetl. My late aunt, Alice (Plotnick) Goldman (c.1900 -1998), watched it being built during her early childhood years in Aniksht, before she and her family emigrated to Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1913. Although not of religious or cultural significance to the Jews of Aniksht, the soaring red brick neo-gothic structure, St. Matthew the Apostle, could evoke apprehension and fear around Easter time when anti-Semitism was often preached from the pulpit. St. Matthew was not Russian Orthodox as one might think, but Roman Catholic. This was because of Polish religious influence dating back to Lithuania's adoption of Roman Catholicism from paganism in the mid-13th century. Built to replace a smaller wooden church, whose antecedent was first erected in 1514, construction of the new edifice was begun in 1899 and was completed in 1909. Built to a height of 84 meters (276 ft.), it became a religious and cultural landmark whose soaring twin spires were visible for miles around. It was an imposing physical presence that dominated the shtetl, the rest of Anykščiai, and all of the surrounding countryside. Its spires were damaged during the First World War and replaced by somewhat smaller and less elaborate ones in 1928. Although the Nazis destroyed much of Anykščiai during WWII, the church was left unscathed. Even with its reduced height of 79 meters (259 ft.), it is still an imposing structure and remains the tallest church in Lithuania and a source of national and civic pride for the Lithuanian Christian community. History