Lithuanian monasteries tell many stories of faith and devotion. In some monasteries, you will find impressive architecture and historical books written by monks. In others, monks and nuns of various orders, clad in their habits, can be seen in their centuries-old cells. They devote their time to prayer, welcoming pilgrims, and working with local communities. Visitors can experience the monastic life and find tranquillity in the surrounding Lithuanian nature.
MONASTERIES IN KRETINGA
A town of 18,000 people not far from the Baltic Sea, Kretinga is often called the Little Vatican. And with good reason, as it has five functioning monasteries. Kretinga's first church and monastery were established at the beginning of the 17th century by Jonas Karolis Chodkevičius, a famous Lithuanian military leader. The elegant ensemble of buildings erected at the time can be seen right in the town centre, at the Franciscan Monastery and the Church of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although the monastery was closed during the Soviet occupation, the Franciscan monks returned to Kretinga after Lithuania regained its independence and have been doing their missionary work there for the last 30 years.
The other monastic institutions in Kretinga host communities of nuns. St. Clara's Monastery is the only one of its kind in the Baltics. The nuns there follow a life of contemplation and spend most of their time in prayer, leaving the premises only when absolutely necessary. The Convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa helps the physically and spiritually ill. At the Blessed Virgin Mary's Ceaseless Help of God's Home of the Franciscan Sisters, the nuns welcome those who seek spiritual rest. The nuns at the Most Sacred Heart Franciscan Missionary Congregation teach religion and take care of the abused, the sick, and the elderly.
THE PAŽAISLIS MONASTERY
Possibly the most romantic spot in Lithuania, the Pažaislis Monastery is a masterpiece of 17th-century Baroque architecture. Built by the affluent, influential, and very religious Pacas family, the Monastery was damaged by wars and the elements, yet its impressive decor withstood the test of time. The ensemble, designed by Italian architect Giovanni Battista Frediani, is decorated with mouldings by Lombardy sculptors and frescoes by Florentine painter Michele Arcangelo Palloni. The Pažaislis ensemble hosts many events, concerts, and the annual Pažaislis International Music Festival, when the sounds of classical music soar to the uppermost arches of the Monastery's church. Managed by the order of the Sisters of St. Casimir, the Monastery is also home to the Museum of Sacral Heritage and Monte Pacis, a unique dining and hospitality complex where visitors can enjoy dishes inspired by Lithuania's historical cuisine.
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THE ENSEMBLE OF THE TYTUVĖNAI CHURCH AND BERNARDINE MONASTERY
The construction of the small but elegant Tytuvėnai Monastery started in the early 17th century on behalf of Andrejus Valavičius, the standard-bearer of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy. Today, the Tytuvėnai Pilgrimage Centre has adapted one of the best Baroque ensembles in Lithuania and North-Eastern Europe for both tourism and pilgrimage. Various educational activities invite curious visitors to live a day in a monk's life – you can write with a goose quill, observe the herbs grown in the monastery garden, make a rosary, and even sample the different types of home-made pilgrim kvass.