Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) attended the opening of an exhibition on Monday marking the centennial of diplomatic relations between Estonia and the Holy See.
The exhibition, housed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn, focuses on the life of Archbishop Eduard Profittlich (1890-1842), who was martyred during the Soviet occupation of Estonia and who is now a candidate for beatification.
Head of the Catholic Church in Estonia Bishop Philippe Jourdan also attended the exhibition's opening.
Foreign minister Reinsalu stressed that Estonia valued highly a decision by the Holy See to recognize the Republic of Estonia de facto, from 1919, and, from 1921, de jure, during the pontificate of Benedict XV (full diplomatic relations were restored as noted in 1922 during the pontificate of Pius XI), and the later refusal by the Vatican to recognize the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union.
Reinsalu said: "It is highly important and significant for Estonia that the Holy See never recognized the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union.
"Nowadays, Estonia and the Holy See are united by similar goals, and a desire to participate actively in ensuring global peace and security," he continued, via a ministry press release.
Bishop Jourdan noted that bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Estonia have not been confined simply to words, but also to real action, all of which stands testimony to these relations.
Archbishop Profittlich was appointed apostolic administrator of the Holy See in Estonia on May 5, 1931, succeeding Archbishop Antonino Zecchini, an Italian, who had been head of the Catholic Church in Estonia from 1922.
Originally from Koblenz in Germany, Archbishop Proffitlich is credited with having done much to enhance the Catholic Church in Estonia during the period of the First Estonian Republic, during which a plurality of religious belief was the norm, but in the year following the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union in 1940, he was arrested and deported to Kirov, in Russia, where he died on February 22 1942, sharing a similar fate to thousands of Estonian citizens also deported.
The 80th anniversary of his death was commemorated this with an exhibition and a memorial Mass, both in Estonia and in the bishop's birthplace in Germany.
The Holy See is the jurisdiction of the Pope in his role as the bishop of Rome, as distinct from the Vatican City State, which was signed into being in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty.
Estonia's diplomatic representative with the Holy See is Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk.
A more detailed timeline (in Estonian), with photos and documentation and charting the history of diplomatic relations between Estonia and the Holy See is here.
The past two years has seen many centennials of diplomatic relations between Estonia and various states worldwide, following the 100th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty, which ensured Estonia's independence.
Editor: Andrew Whyte