Betygala

The Legend of Betygala

As the crusaders ravaged the pagan shrines, the eternal fire cherished in the pagan altars was put down. The end came to the times of the Old gods. And where did that end came? It did in Betygala!
Many centuries ago, long before the Crusades, a great pagan temple Romuva had thrived in Betygala, where the river Dubysa ended. The most famous pagan priests – kriviai – from all over the Lithuanian lands traveled along the rivers Dubysa, Šventupys, and Vanagė to this place, beloved by the Pagan gods.
People say that after the ferocious Germans had occupied the Baltic shrines, only one such sacred place had survived: the last pagan fire of the goddess Gabija was still flickering in the shrine in Betygala.
These pagans were led by the last surviving pagan priest Gintautas; he had escaped to Samogitia after the crusaders had burned his shrine in Kernavė.
Gintautas was very good at dealing with the gods, and that's why the Germans had not been able to put down the last pagan fire. If the Germans stepped into Betygala's forests, the forest deities would lead them astray till they got lost. If they decided to refresh their throats with spring water, they would fall in and drown. If they lowered their boats into the river Dubysa, the river gods would punch holes in them. Upon Gintautas's request, all pagan gods did their best to protect the last pagan shrine from destruction.
Gintautas's success enraged the crusaders mightily. They understood that to baptize the last of the pagans they would have to get rid of their priest. But how they capture him, if the gods themselves were protecting him?
The oldest and wisest leaders of the crusaders spent many weeks trying to find a way, and they finally came up with a nefarious plan.
"If no human can capture Gintautas, the devil will!" decided the German knights and set off to look for a devil.
When they found him, they promised the devil a generous reward for getting rid of Gintautas.
Devil Pinčiukas, who knew of priest Gintautas's noble character, decided to assume a young girl's appearance. This girl would pretend to be drowning, and Gintautas would rush to save her – only to get drowned by the devil.
So, this is how the last pagan priest met his death in Betygala. There is a stream flowing nearby, which to this day is called the Spring of Krivis.