Archaeological findings that remind about the old culture of the local people, found in Meškučiai and Kumelionys mounds and ancient settlements in the town territory, says that people lived here even 100 years before Christ.
In XIII century, many castles were burned-down, many people killed, and those who remained abandoned Sūduva land. For many years people say that Marijampolė town could have grown from Pašešupys village, which in historical sources was first mentioned in 1667. Historians make another assumption, that the predecessor of the town could have been Sena Būda village, which was mentioned in sources 50 years later.
Year 1667 is mentioned by basing on historian and priest Jonas Totoraitis “History of Sūduvos Suvalkija”, when the village was first mentioned in Kaunas taxes list. Although records of 1662 specify that in 1659 – 1661, taxes for military affairs were paid by Pašešupys land keeper Adomas Narbutas and his wife. Also, there are documents that mention Pašešupys village in 1626.
During North War in 1701, Marijampolė region was devastated and after the fall of Prienai castle, family of graph G. Butleris moved to a remote place near the Šešupė, where it in 1717 near the village founded Kvietiškis manor and became the town foundation initiator. Elder of Prienai did not like the name Pašešupys and changed it to Starapolė (mentioned since 1736). At the start of Starapolė, nearby another town began to grow (since 1756 mentioned as Marijampolė), which was founded by P. Butlerienė who built a church. In 1750, Prienai elder graph P. Butlerienė obtained the permission of the Marian monastery to bring a priest to Starapolė and between the Šešupė and Jevonis rivers she built a monastery with a church. In XVIII century, grew into a market town.
In 1758, graph P. Ščiukaitė-Butlerienė signed official monastery foundation act; after a while a monastery was built. There was formed ecclesiastical jurisdiction, set its territory: one side of the territory is washed by the Šešupė, the other – from the town mills to breweries – Jevonis river, which flows into the Šešupė. Former Pašešupys village, later Starapolė, in the foundation act is already called by the name Marijampolė. Because the town emergence and growth was determined by Marian monastery, its name is derived from the Marian.
On 23.02.1792, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania Stanislovas Augustas Poniatovskis granted Marijampolė the Magdeburg municipality rights privilege and the coat of arms. Marijampolė became a real town and an important Užnemunė market centre. In 1820-1829, Petersburg-Warsaw road and its branch to Vilkaviškis were built.
In the end of XIX century and in the beginning of the XX, when Russian tsarist government banned the Lithuanian press, Marijampolė became the centre of national movement and education in Užnemunė. Unique role during that time was played by Rygiškių Jonas Gymnasium. “Rebith” was evoken by P. Arminas-Trupinėlis, P. Kriaučiūnas, J. Basanavičius, J. Jablonskis, V. Kudirka, K. Grinius, J. Matulaitis-Matulevičius and many other known people. Book smugglers distributed banned literature, operated such educational associations as “Sietynas”, “Artojai”, “Šviesa”, and others.
During the Lithuanian independence period, because of effort by J. Sirutis, J. Barkauskas, A. Staugaitis, J. Maurukas, the town was newly expanded, it grew quickly. Marijampolė was famous by its publishing houses. 27 Lithuanian newspapers such as “Aušrinė”, “Pavasario balsai”, “Gyvenimas ir mokykla”, “Žemė ir laisvė” and magazines were being published.
During that period, some unique architecture buildings were built: Marian Gymnasium and Teachers’ Seminary House, county hospital, pastor hall, some primary schools, modern railway station. Rygiškių Jono, Marian and Jews Gymnasiums, Teacher’s Seminary, Exact Sciences School, “Dirva” company, Marian publishing house, which published books, and Marian library, which had more than 60 000 books, operated in the town.
During WWI and WWII, the town was severely destroyed. During the soviet occupation years, many people were deported to Siberia, in 1941, Germans destroyed Jews community. In 1955, soviets changed Marijampolė name to Kapsukas but that did not catch on. In 1989, during the first referendum in Lithuania, the town was granted its previous name – Marijampolė. Even during the difficult years of occupation, its citizens did not stop to cherish architectural uniqueness, tried to preserve existing cultural heritage and Catholic traditions. During the years of “rebirth”, Christian culture centre was established, Marian school, Priests seminary (1999-2005), religious communities started their work again. Believers were given back St. Vincent Paulietis church. On 18.12.1997, Marijampolė town historic coat of arms was restored.
Monuments were built for a linguist J. Jablonskis, writer V. Mykolaitis-Putinas, Lithuanian national awakener and teacher P. Kriaučiūnas, and defender of Lithuania’s independence R. Juknevičius, also Tauras county partisan commemorating memorial was built in the park of Vytautas the Great. In 2009, the town’s centre was decorated by a monument “For the Nation and the Language. Millennium Commemorationof the Name of Lithuania 1009-2009”, and a pre-war monument of Duke Vytenis was rebuilt in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Vytenis battalion territory.
Archbishop’s Jurgis Matulaitis (1871-1927), who was blessed by John Paul II, remains are lying in Marijampolė St. Archangel Mykolas Basilica. J. Matulaitis – is the only blessed Lithuanian in the beginning of XXth century. A chapel of the blessed Jurgis Matulaitis is in the archbishop’s homeland – Lūginė. Pilgrims’ hikes are organized to Lūginė, also events of spiritual guidance for youth and families take place there. A museum of the blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, which is in Marijampolė St. Archangel Mykolas Basilica and Marian monastery, was opened and blessed on 18.09.2011.