The Gate of Dawn in Vilnius is famous all over the world for two reasons, primarily because of the miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, exhibited in the chapel of the Gate of Dawn. Secondly – they say that sacred powers work wonders in this place. There are many stories about the Gate healing the sick, and punishing villains. Visit the Gate of Dawn, and ask for your miracle.
Gate of Dawn is in the most precarious spot
Today, the Gate of Dawn is associated with a house of worship to many people. However, several centuries ago it was one of the ten defensive gates built in the walls around Vilnius in the sixteenth century. Shooting holes prominent on the outer side of the gate are the reminders of that.
The Gate of Dawn was built in the most dangerous and most often attacked area of Vilnius. In 1799, the army of the Russian Empire destroyed the defensive wall of Vilnius but left the Gate of Dawn intact. It is believed that they were fearful of destroying the tenement of the sacred icon.
The famous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary
One of the most famous Renaissance paintings in Lithuania – the miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, – is in the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn. It is also known as the Madonna of the Gate of Dawn, or the Vilnius’ Madonna. The painting was made in the seventeenth century specifically for this Chapel following the model of the Dutch artist Marten de Voso, and was worshiped by Uniates, Catholics, and Orthodox.
There are only a handful of paintings where the Blessed Virgin Mary is depicted alone, without a baby in her hands. This one is exactly like that and therefore so famous all over the world; its copies are found in numerous churches of other countries. For instance, in St. Severin Church in Paris, in many churches of Poland; and the Lithuanian chapel in Vatican is decorated with the same painting as here.
Women could not go to the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn
The Chapel was built so that the congregation could pray to the icon on the street, as earlier the Chapel was accessible only from the monastery garden, and laymen, especially women, were not allowed to go here.
The Chapel of the Gate of Dawn took its current look of Neoclassicism in the nineteenth century and is still functioning as a church. This special place was visited by Pope John Paul II who prayed the Rosary along with pilgrims from all over Lithuania and abroad.