Keliauk Lietuvoje

THE VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE ROUTE OF POPE SAINT JOHN PAUL II IN LITHUANIA

1.2 million kilometres. This is the estimated length of all the travels John Paul II, often referred to as the great pilgrim, made as Pope. Lithuania is one of the 129 countries visited during his pontificate. John Paul II first kissed Lithuanian land on September 4, 1993. This was the first-ever visit of the Holy Father to the territory of the former USSR (John Paul II carried on his travels from Lithuania to Latvia and Estonia).
The virtual route created by the National Tourism Development Agency Lithuania Travel includes the Lithuanian houses of worship visited by John Paul II himself together with the country's most important sacral landmarks listed in the Pilgrimage Route of Pope Saint John Paul II in Lithuania.
LANDMARKS OF THE PILGRIMAGE OF POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II
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  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus of Vilnius Vilnius Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, the so-called Gate of Dawn Chapel, and St. 'Teresa's Church Vilnius Sanctuary of Divine Mercy Vilnius Way of the Cross (Vilnius Calvary) Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai Pivašiūnai Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Marijampolė Basilica of St. Michael, the Archangel, and the Chapel of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis in his native Lūginė Kaunas Cathedral Basilica of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul Kaunas Christ's Resurrection Church Pažaislis Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and former Abbey Ensemble Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Šiluva, Šiluva Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary Tytuvėnai Church and Monastery Complex Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda Basilica of the Holy Mother Mary Visitation and the Chapels of the Way of the Cross in Žemaičių Kalvarija Šiauliai Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Church of Ignatius of Loyola in Šiauliai Hill of Crosses Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church Krekenava Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus of Vilnius

Katedros a. 2, Vilnius

Significance:

Vilnius Cathedral Basilica is the most important Catholic church in the entire country and is a symbol of Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity.

History:

The first cathedral was built back in 1386 by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vladislovas Jogaila. The church had to be rebuilt several times due to frequent fires and raids by hostile armies. The cathedral we see today was reconstructed in the 18th century based on the project by architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius. The Cathedral is built in a Classicist style, its walls also incorporating certain Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements. The church’s bell is located in a tower that was once part of the defensive wall that surrounded the city.

Key points for pilgrims:

One of the most valuable examples of early Baroque architecture in Lithuania can be seen in the Cathedral, i.e. St. 'Casimirs Chapel, which houses the remains of St. Casimir, heir of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and patron of Lithuania. The Goštautai Chapel honours the long-famous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the earliest crowned painting of Mary in Vilnius, dating back to 1750. The dungeons of the Cathedral house one of two of the oldest frescoes in Lithuania that was painted in the end of the 14th – beginning of the 15th century. The fresco serves as testimony to the way Oriental and Western Christian traditions intertwined in the first decades after Lithuania converted to Christianity. In the centre of the fresco, we see a crucified Christ, and by the cross – his mother Mary and his favourite apostle John the Evangelist. The style of the painting, together with the Greek letters inside Christ's halo, reflect the influence of Byzantine art. At the same time, Jesus is nailed to the cross with three nails, as is common in the Catholic tradition.

The dungeons of St. Casimirs Chapel also serve as the final resting place for the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander Jagellion (1460 – 1506), the wives of Sigismund Augustus - Elizabeth of Austria (1526 – 1545) and Barbara Radziwill (approx. 1522/23 – 1551), and the heart of Ladislaus IV of Poland (1595 – 1648). The discovery of the Royal crypt in 1931 became a real sensation. Visitors can also discover the minor tomb, which served as a temporary resting place for the rulers' remains for more than 300 years. The Valavičiai (former Royal) chapel is surprisingly beautiful yet subtle. Before the St. Casimir Chaple was erected, its crypt held the remains of St. Casimir.

St. John Paul II:

The Holy Father John Paul II began his historical apostolic journey around Lithuania with a prayer at the Vilnius Cathedral on September 4, 1993. Here, he met with priests, monks and clergy from all over Lithuania, and prayed at the sarcophagus of St. Casimir. Commemorating this historic visit, a marble plaque with a memorial inscription has been erected at Vilnius Cathedral.

Worship traditions:

St. 'Casimirs Feast. Every year, the 4th March is St. 'Casimirs Day. At that day, Holy Mass is held at the Vilnius Cathedral, and the traditional St. 'Casimirs weekend fair (Kaziuko mugė) encroaches upon the Old Town.

Small St. 'Casimirs Feast. On the 4th of each month, at 12.30 PM, the Holy Mass is held at the Cathedral.

Information for visitors:

Vilnius Cathedral Basilica is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM. Guided tours at the Cathedral can be held only outside of service hours. If you wish to explore the Cathedral's dungeons, please contact the Museum of Ecclesiastical Heritage (www.bpmuziejus.lt ) beforehand.

For more here.

Vilnius Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, the so-called Gate of Dawn Chapel, and St. 'Teresa's Church

Aušros vartų st. 14, Vilnius

Significance:

The Gate of Dawn is one of the most iconic symbols of Vilnius. The miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, honoured in the Gate of Dawn Chapel, is considered one of the most famous Renaissance paintings in Lithuania. The painting is also called the Madonna of the Gates of Dawn or the Madonna of Vilnius. The Gate of Dawn, or Mother of Mercy Chapel, belongs to the European Marian Network, which unites a total of 20 sanctuaries.

History:

In the 16th century, the city of Vilnius was surrounded by a defensive wall with ten gates. The Gate of Dawn, first mentioned in 1514, was originally called the Medininkai Gate. The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was initially hung in a niche on the interior side of this gate and only later, with the efforts of the Carmelites, who came to Vilnius in the 17th century, was transferred to a wooden chapel, and eventually—after the chapel burned down—to a brick one. The late Classicist chapel acquired its present appearance after reconstruction in the 19th century. The facade of the chapel is reminiscent of a triumphal arch.

The Church of St. Teresa of Avila, located in the neighbourhood of the Gate of Dawn Chapel, was built by the Discalced Carmelites in the middle of the 17th century. The church connects with the monastery. The walls and vaults of the church are decorated with frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Teresa of Avila, and the high altar is decorated with an 18th-century painting 'The Transverberation of St. 'Teresa's ' Heart'. St. 'Teresa's Church is one of the best monuments of early Baroque architecture in Vilnius.

Key points for pilgrims:

The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, is honoured in the centre of the 'chapel's altar. The painting is believed to have been painted in the 17th century based on the work by the Dutch artist Martin de Vos. The painting was lined with gilded silver trim. The graces of the Mother of Mercy can be witnessed by the signs of thanksgiving, i.e. votive offerings.

St. John Paul II:

During his visit to Lithuania, Pope Saint John Paul II prayed the Rosary at the Gate of Dawn on September 4, 1993, together with worshippers from all over Lithuania and abroad. Before commencing the prayer that day, he reminded believers that there was a Lithuanian chapel in the Vatican decorated with a copy of the Blessed Virgin Mary painting.

Worship traditions:

The Small Feast for the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated on the 16th of each month.

The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, the patron saint of the church, is celebrated on the 15th of October.

The Great Feast for the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated for eight days on the week containing the 16th of November.

Information for visitors:

The Gate of Dawn Chapel is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

For more here.

Vilnius Sanctuary of Divine Mercy

Dominikonų st. 12, Vilnius

Significance

The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy is one of Vilnius' main points of interest both for local believers and pilgrims from around the world. The original gracious image of the Merciful Jesus, painted in Vilnius according to the visions of Sister Faustina, is venerated here.

History:

The Gothic sanctuary, erected in the 15th or 16th century, was converted into an Orthodox church a few hundred years later and was returned to Catholics in 1920. In 1946–1947, priest Mykolas Sopočko, who came from Poland to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy and was a confessor of Sister Faustina, worked at the church. It was to him that Sister Faustina told of the revelations of Jesus, which inspired the image of Divine Mercy. In 1947, the Soviets closed the church again and used its premises for other purposes. 'The church was restored and consecrated with the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy title only in 2004.

Key points for pilgrims:

In the centre of the Sanctuary, above the altar is an original miraculous painting of the Merciful Jesus by the artist Eugenijus Kazimirovskis. It was created in 1934 based on the visions of Sister Faustina Kovalska. The painting depicts Jesus wearing a white tunic, blessing people with his right hand and touching his heart with his left, with whitish and red rays emanating therefrom. The rays symbolise the sacraments and graces that await those who will pray to this image and put their trust in Divine Mercy.

A little further from the centre of Vilnius, one can also pay a visit to the house of St. Faustina, where she lived in 1933-1936 and experienced the visions described in her diary. The Corona of Mercy is prayed daily at 3.00 PM, which is a prayer dictated to the nun by the revealed Jesus. This place is included in the pilgrimage route 'Way of Divine Mercy' of Vilnius, the City of Divine Mercy.

St. John Paul II:

On the 5th of September, while visiting Vilnius, the Holy Father prayed to the image of the Merciful Jesus (which was kept in the Church of the Holy Spirit at that time). In 2000, John Paul II proclaimed Sister Faustina a saint and declared the first Sunday after Easter the Divine Mercy Sunday.

Worship traditions:

Divine Mercy Week is celebrated from the Easter Monday until Divine Mercy Sunday.

Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.

The Procession of Light takes place on Saturday evening before Divine Mercy Sunday and starts from the Gate of Dawn Chapel.

The Small Feast of the Sanctuary takes place every Friday.

Information for visitors:

The church is open 24/7.

For more here.

Vilnius Way of the Cross

Vilnius Calvary

Significance:

Vilnius Calvary, founded in the 17th century, has long attracted large numbers of pilgrims. This sacred place is unique in Europe.

History:

In 15-16th century, when Calvaries (copies of Christ's Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, usually located in places where hills, valleys and streams resemble the landscape of Jerusalem) began to be built, Vilnius also started the search for a location for such place so that pilgrims without access to the Holy Land could repeat Jesus' last journey. The forested surroundings of Verkiai were especially suitable for this. There is evidence that the first procession from Vilnius to Verkiai took place in the 17th century. The Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross, a monastery and 20 brick chapels were built here, but the latter were demolished by the Soviets in the 20th century and were only restored in 2002.

Key points for pilgrims:

Today, the Vilnius Calvary Ensemble consists of the Baroque-style Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and 35 Stations of the Cross. They are scattered among the hills of Golgotha, Mary, Zion, and Olives and the stream of Cedron. The Way of the Cross is 7 kilometres long.

The altar of the Sorrowful Mother of God in Vilnius Calvary Church preserves a wooden relic of the Holy Cross.

When Pope Saint John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses, he said that the Mystery of the Cross is the most crucial point to salvation, and encouraged to discover the cross as a symbol of reconciliation and a source of divine bliss gifted to Lithuania and its Catholic Church.

St. John Paul II:

Worship traditions:

Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross is celebrated on Good Friday; the three days of Pentecost and on the first Saturday of every month, at 8 AM.

The tribute to the relic of the Holy Cross is celebrated on the 14th of each month.

Information for visitors:

The Way of the Cross in Vilnius Calvaries can be walked all year round. Service at the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross takes place on Sundays at 10.30 AM, 12.00 AM and 4.00 PM, Saturdays at 7.00 PM, and weekdays at 7.00 AM and 7.00 PM.

For more here.

Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai

Birutės st. 5, Trakai

Significance:

The Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Trakai peninsula is one of the eight basilicas in Lithuania. The church is famous for the painting of Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania, which tells about the deep tradition of Lithuania being perceived as a land under the patronage of Mary.

History:

It is believed that the Gothic church was built in the 15th century by the same craftsmen who worked at Trakai Castle on the island of Lake Galvė. The founder of the church was the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (his portrait still hangs in the sanctuary). After the reconstruction in the 17th-18th century, the church acquired the features of the late Baroque era, with remaining examples of Byzantine wall paintings. The miraculous image of Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania, is honoured on the high altar.

Key points for pilgrims:

Worshipers have long been lured to the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai by the painting of the Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania. The back of the painting bears a story about how this painting was gifted to Grand Duke Vytautas by the Byzantine Emperor on the occasion of his baptism. Historians believe that this inscription was added in the 18th century, when the painting of Mary was being prepared for its coronation ceremony. In 1994, an X-Ray analysis showed that this image of Mary was painted back in the 16th century and repainted in the 17th century according to guidelines dictating the way that the oldest and most miraculous images should be depicted. This is the first painting of the Virgin Mary in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that was coronated by the Vatican.

St. John Paul II:

In 2015, a monument to John Paul II was consecrated in the churchyard of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Worship traditions:

The Feast of the Assumption, or the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 15th August.

The eighth day of the Trakai Feast, or the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, September 1–8. A pilgrimage from the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius to Trakai (about 30 km), as well as pilgrimages from the surrounding areas are organised during the Trakai Feast.

Information for visitors:

The basilica is open daily from 9.00 AM to 6.30 PM.

For more here.

Things to see in Trakai here.

Pivašiūnai Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Trakų g. 6, Pivašiūnai, Alytaus r.

Significance:

Pivašiūnai is considered to be one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in Lithuania owing this status to the painting of the Mother of God and the Child, famous for its miraculous graces, and solemn traditions of indulgences.

History:

Pivašiūnai Church is a monument of Lithuanian wooden sacral classicism architecture. The first Pivašiunai church was established by the Benedictines of Trakai. The current wooden Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the early 19th century. It is said that only the miraculous image of the Mother of God has survived the fires and is what the church has been most known for since then. It is located on the high altar.

Key points for pilgrims:

Pivašiūnai is famous for the painting of the Mother of God and the Child, which was created by an unknown Lithuanian artist in the middle of the 17th century. The haloed images of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus symbolise the Queen of Heaven and the Redeemer. The plentiful votive offerings at the painting testify to the divine grace received by the believers.

St. John Paul II:

During the Feast of the Assumption of 1988, Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius coronated the painting known for its divine grace with the crowns gifted by John Paul II. The painting was titled Our Lady of Consolation to commemorate Mary’s care towards the Lithuanian Catholic Church that had survived Soviet oppression and was already facing new challenges at that time.

Worship traditions:

Some pilgrims recite the glorious Mysteries of the Rosary as they climb the high hill adorned by Pivašiūnai Church. Every tenth step is decorated with a pillar dedicated to the mysteries, created by local craftsman Algirdas Judickas. One of the steps is dedicated to reciting Ave Maria.

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated for eight days 15th to 22nd of August.

The Feast of Our Lady of Consolation is celebrated on the 15th of each month.

Information for visitors:

The church is open during services only.

For more here.

Things to see in Alytus here.

Marijampolė Basilica of St. Michael, the Archangel, and the Chapel of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis in his native Lūginė

Basilica- J. Bendoriaus st. 1, Marijampolė;
Chapel - Šunskų seniūnija, Lūginė village, Marijampolė district.

Significance:

Marijampolė is the only town in Lithuania named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the Marian monastery. Pilgrims from Lithuania and other countries come to the Basilica of St. Archangel Michael to pray beside the remains of Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis buried there.

History:

The present basilica was erected in 1824 in place of a wooden church built in the middle of the 18th century and later destroyed by fire. It was granted the Little Basilica title in 1992. The church, which contains Classicist and Neo-Baroque features, has six altars.

In 1934, the remains of Blessed Archbishop J. Matulaitis were transferred to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Blessed J. Matulaitis renewed the Marian Monastery, made his own vows, established the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. On December 1, 1918, Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis was appointed the bishop of Vilnius diocese, and later on, appointed the apostolic visitor of the Holy See in Lithuania. His knowledge and efforts were crucial for the establishment of stronger ties between Lithuania and the Holy See, the creation of the Lithuanian ecclesiastical province and preparing the concordat. You can learn more about his life at the Museum of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis in the Marijampolė Marian Monastery

Key points for pilgrims:

Worshippers can also visit the Chapel of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis near Marijampolė, built in 1991 in his home village of Lūginė. A famous tradition to commemorate the anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, is to walk from Marijampolė to Lūginė Chapel in July.

The altar of the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in Marijampolė also houses a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child, famous for its graces.

St. John Paul II:

On 28 June 1987, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis blessed'. Every year in July, there is a week-long solemn celebration in Marijampolė Basilica of the anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis.

Worship traditions:

Liturgical commemoration of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, feast, the 27th January.

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the 13th of June.

The eighth day of the Feast of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis (commemorating the day of his beatification), from the Sunday before the 12th of July to the Sunday after it.

The Feast of St. Archangel Michael, the main patron of the church, the 29th September.

Information for visitors:

The Basilica is open from 7.00 AM to 7 PM.

For more here.

Things to see in Marijampolė here.

Kaunas Cathedral Basilica of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul

Vilnius st. 1, Kaunas

Significance:

Kaunas Cathedral Basilica is one of the largest and oldest churches in Lithuania. It is also largest Gothic-style sacral building in Lithuania. The basilica is famous for its painting of the Gracious Mother.

History:

Kaunas St. Peter's Church was founded by Vytautas the Great at the beginning of the 15th century and was later repeatedly reconstructed. In 1895, the church was granted the status of a cathedral, in 1921 it was given the title of a small basilica, and in 1926 it was promoted to the rank of an archcathedral basilica. The current archcathedral has nine altars, the most recent of which is the altar of Pope Saint John Paul II with a relic of the Holy Father. Famous clergymen and bishops are buried in the crypt and churchyard of the archcathedral, and the first Lithuanian cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius is buried in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

Key points for pilgrims:

Worshippers are drawn to the sanctuary by the 16th-century graceful painting of the Sorrowful Mother of God and the 17th-century painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The painting of the Sorrowful Mother of God depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary holding her Son removed from the cross, and is the oldest painting in the archcathedral. The votive offerings left by the people testify to its graces.

St. John Paul II:

The Pope prayed in the sanctuary on September 6, 1993, during his visit to Lithuania (this event is immortalised on a memorial plaque at the side entrance to the basilica). The renovated side altar of Kaunas Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul holds the honoured relic of St. John Paul II since 2013.

Worship traditions:

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle, 22nd of February (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

Feast of the Sorrowful Blessed Virgin Mary, Friday before the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 29th of June.

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, 9th of November.

Information for visitors:

The cathedral is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

For more here.

Things to see in Kaunas here.

Kaunas Christ's Resurrection Church

Žemaičių st. 31A, Kaunas

Significance:

Christ's Resurrection Basilica is a monument to the suffering, resurrection and freedom of the Lithuanian nation. It is the largest basilica church in the three Baltic States.

History:

This exceptional church was built as a sign of gratitude to God for the regained independence of Lithuania. Erected in 1940, the church was quickly repurposed as a radio factory by the Soviets. The sanctuary was returned to the faithful only in 1990. The renovation and reconstruction of the Church lasted for a decade. In 2015, Pope Francis granted the Christ's Resurrection Church the title of a small basilica.

Key points for pilgrims:

Pilgrims can also pray on the roof of the Basilica, in the chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva. The church’s altar preserves a relic of St. Anthony.

St. John Paul II:

Christ's Resurrection Basilica reflects the path of the Lithuanian nation in the 20th century and symbolises the nation’s spiritual renaissance – something John Paul II wished Lithuania in prayers.

Worship traditions:

Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter):

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, moveable to the third Sunday after Pentecost.

Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the 8th of September (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

Information for visitors:

The basilica is open from 9.00 AM to 6.30 PM, as well as during services.

For more here.

Things to see in Kaunas here.

Pažaislis Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and former Abbey Ensemble

T. Masiulio st. 31, Kaunas

Significance:

The Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with its former Abbey is one of the masterpieces of mature Baroque architecture in North-Eastern Europe. It is famous for his miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which attracts pilgrims.

History:

The construction of Pažaislis Church and Monastery on the Kaunas Lagoon Peninsula was initiated in the 17th century by the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Kristupas Zigmantas Pacas. He enlisted the help of Italian artists, namely Italian architects Giovanni Battista Frediani and Pietro Puttini, painter Michelangelo Palloni, sculptor Giovanni Maria Merli. More than a hundred different frescoes have survived in this Italian Baroque-style monastery. Today, the monastery is owned by the Sisters of St. Casimir.

Key points for pilgrims:

On the high altar of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one can see the painting of the Beautiful Mother of Love, famous for its graces. The painting was donated by Pope Alexander VII in 1661 to the founder of Pažaislis Church. It is the work of an unknown Flemish artist of the 17th century. A large number of pilgrims is also attracted by the solemn Feast of the Assumption.

St. John Paul II:

Worship traditions:

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, the 31st of May (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 15th of August.

Information for visitors:

The ensemble can be visited on Tuesday-Friday from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM, and on Saturdays from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM. The first Saturday of each month is for pilgrims and worshippers, with the Holy Mass being held at at 12 PM.

For more here.

Things to see in Kaunas here.

Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Šiluva, Šiluva Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Significance:

Šiluva is one of the most important spiritual centres of Lithuania and places of manifestation of the Virgin Mary, sometimes called Lithuanian Lourdes. Pilgrims are attracted to Šiluva not only because it is a place where Mary had appeared, but because also the traditional Feast of Šilinės, which has been taking place here for almost 500 years.

History:

There is a surviving written account that in 1608 the shepherds while grazing the herd, saw a girl crying on one large stone with a baby in her arms. They asked the reason for her distress, and the girl replied: 'I am crying because my Son was worshipped in this place before, and now this land is used to grow wheat.' Locals remembered that there was indeed a church in this place, and after digging deeper, they found a chest with the treasure of the Šiluva Church. Thus, a wooden church was built on the site of the apparition of Mary, and the Feast of Šilinės, known since the 15th century, was revived. The red-brick Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the 18th century, its interior decoration remaining unchanged to this day. The Basilica also houses the famous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child, adorned with the papal crowns.

As the 300th anniversary of the apparition of Mary approached, architect Antanas Vivulskis designed the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the middle of the 44 m high chapel, there is an altar built on a stone on which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1608. The Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary together with the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the square between them form a sacred space. It hosts the primary services during the feast.

Key points for pilgrims:

The great altar of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary houses a miraculous image of the Mother of God and the Child. It was painted in the 17th century based on the example of the Our Lady of the Snow in Rome. The upholstery of the painting is minted from votive offerings donated by people in gratitude for the graces they have experienced. In the Chapel of the Revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, worshippers pray by walking the paths around the altar built on the stone on which Mary appeared.

The Feast of Šilinės is the largest mass religious gathering in Lithuania.

St. John Paul II:

During the fourth day of his stay in Lithuania, on September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II visited Šiluva—he prayed in the Chapel of the Revelation, kissing the stone on which the Virgin Mary appeared. Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Pope's visit, a monument to the Holy Father was unveiled in 2008 in Šiluva Square between the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There are more memorials commemorating the papal visit to Šiluva: The golden rosary donated by him is kept in the Šiluva Museum; the street of Šiluva Town, which runs along the square through the Basilica and the Chapel of the Apparition, was named after John Paul II by the decision of Raseiniai Municipality; the Pilgrim House of John Paul II established in Šiluva also reminds of the Holy Father; a cross was erected on the site where his helicopter landed.

Worship traditions:

Feast of Šilinės or the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8–15th of September.

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 31st of May (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, moveable to the third Sunday after Pentecost.

Mary's Day, the 13th of each month.

Information for visitors:

In May-October, the basilica and the chapel are open from 8.00 AM to 8.00 PM, and in November–April from 8.00 AM to 3.00 PM.

For more here.

Things to see in Raseiniai here.

Tytuvėnai Church and Monastery Complex

Maironio st. 2A, Tytuvėnai, Kelmė district.

Significance:

This is one of the most valuable examples of 17th-18th century sacral architecture Lithuania, which has already been discovered by pilgrims from across the world. The place is known for the painting of Mother of God and Child that is famous for its graces, as well as for the Chapel of Holy Steps and the tradition of feasts.

History:

17th-century noble Andriejus Valavicius was the fundator of the Tytuvėnai Church and Monastery Complex. His brother, Jeronimas Valavicius took his place after his death. Later on, the Chapel of the Holy Steps with the altar of Jesus Christ Crucified and the gallery of the Stations of the Cross were built. This Way of the Cross has the largest number of stations (a total of 39), compared to other similar constructions in Lithuania. The monastery ensemble, which was started in the Gothic spirit, is full of Renaissance style details, but the biggest tribute was paid to Baroque architecture.

Key points for pilgrims:

The main church altar holds the painting of the Mother of God and Child which has been venerated since the 17th century. After the Stations of the Cross and the Chapel of the Holy Steps were built in the 18th century, pilgrims would travel to Tytuvėnai for the intercession of the Mother of God, as well as to walk the Way of the Cross and the Holy Stairs. There is a tradition to ascend the stairs on your knees and kiss the sacred relics, covered by glass on every step of the stairs. Every year, on the last Sunday of August, pilgrims travel from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva.

St. John Paul II:

Worship traditions:

Feast of St. Anthony – the 13th of June (transferred to Sunday).

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the first Sunday of July.

Feast of Our Lady Queen of the Angels (Porziuncola) – the first Sunday of August.

Pilgrimage from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva, bearing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima – the last Sunday of August.

Information for visitors:

The church is open during services only, inner yard with Chapel of the Holy Steps - anytime.

For more here.

What to see in Kelmė here.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda

Rumpiškės st. 6, Klaipėda

Significance:

This is the only Catholic Church in both Lithuania and the Baltic States that was built in the Soviet era.

History:

The sanctuary, built in 1957-1960, was supposed to fill the shortage of Catholic places of worship in the port city, after almost all of them were destroyed during World War II. Unfortunately, the Soviets did not allow the built church to open – they started demolishing and destroying it. The believers reclaimed the church only in 1988. You can find out more about the history of the church from the archival photos in the church tower by climbing to the observation deck, which stands 47 metres tall.

Key points for pilgrims:

The churchyard serves as the final resting place for many of its former priests, including Bronislovas Burneikis, who helped restore the church in 1988. for one of its builders, who helped restore it in 1988, priest Bronislovas Burneikis. The churchyard also hosts the restored Cross of Hope, from where pilgrim journeys in Klaipėda start.

St. John Paul II:

Knowing how much John Paul II did for the fight against Communism, it is important to note that Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda is the only Catholic church in the Baltics that was built under Soviet occupation. The church reflects the resistance and perseverance of the believers who continued to disseminate Catholic culture during Soviet years.

Worship traditions:

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace – the 22nd of August (transferred to Sunday).

Feast of John the Baptist – the 24th of June..

Feast of Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face – the 1st of October (transferred to Sunday).

Information for visitors:

For more here.

What to see in Klaipėda here.

Basilica of the Holy Mother Mary Visitation and the Chapels of the Way of the Cross in Žemaičių Kalvarija

Vienuolyno st. 1A, Žemaičių Kalvarija, Plungė district

Significance:

This is the pilgrim centre of West Lithuania, famous for its miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child, the Queen of Christian Families, its authentic traditions of the Hill of Crosses and the Great Žemaičių Kalvarija Festival.

History:

By the decision of Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the land of Gardai (now – Žemaičių Kalvarija), was given to the bishop of Žemaičiai diocese in the 15th century. Bishop Jurgis Tiškevičius invited the Dominicans to settle here in 1637. At their initiative, the first Way of the Cross was established in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Chapels of Christ's Way of Sorrows were built, and the Great Festival was started to be celebrated. The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child, brought from Rome, started to gain traction for its graces from the middle of the 16th century. A new brick church was consecrated instead of the former wooden ones in 1824.

Key points for pilgrims:

It is suggested to start your visit in Žemaičių Kalvarija with a prayer by the painting of the Mother of God, famous for its miracles, in the Basilica of the Holy Mother Visitation. In 2006, it was crowned by Pope Benedict XVI with consecrated crowns, and it was given the title of the Queen of Christian Families. Here, pilgrims traditionally start and end their Way of the Cross. The Via Dolorosa of Žemaičių Kalvarija, which is 4.5 km long, consists of 19 folk architecture chapels with 20 stations. The procession of the Way of the Cross takes about 3 hours, including the psalms and sermons in three places.

The church and the chapels guard other relics, which are important to believers, like the largest relic of the Holy Cross in the Baltic States, a wooden piece from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a copy of the nail of Christ brought from Rome, a pebble from the Hill of Golgotha in Jerusalem and a photocopy of the Shroud of Turin.

St. John Paul II:

In 1988, the Holy Father vested the Žemaičių Kalvarija Church with the title of Basilica and started the coronation process with the papal crowns of the miraculous Mother of God and Child painting.

Worship traditions:

The Great Žemaičių Kalvarija, or the Holy Mother Visitation Festival – July 2-12

Monthly Feast – the 2nd of every month.

The titular feast of the parish – the 31st of May.

The hills of the Way of the Cross are collectively walked during the Monthly Feast after the 12.00 PM Holy Mass and during the Great Festival after every Holy Mass (the main procession is after the 12.00 PM Holy Mass, bearing the relic of the Saint Cross).

Information for visitors:

The Basilica is open from 9 AM to 8 PM in the summer, in the winter it is open one hour before the Holy Mass, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM to 1 PM.

For more here.

What to see in Plungė here.

Šiauliai Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Aušros takas 3, Šiauliai

Significance:

Šiauliai Cathedral is the beginning of the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses. The Cathedral is the most significant example of Renaissance-era Mannerist architecture in Lithuania.

History:

The brick church in Šiauliai was built in the 17th century instead of the former wooden church. The sanctuary was severely damaged by wars and storms, the altars, which had burnt down after World War II, were rebuilt only in the 1960s. The distinctive features of Renaissance architecture are the 70 m tower which stands tall above the city, the sundial on the South wall and the only churchyard gates with defensive towers and shooting openings in Lithuania.

Key points for pilgrims:

Pilgrims start the 12 km walk to the Hill of Crosses exactly from the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Šiauliai. The Feast of the Hill of Crosses and the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses, led by the bishop of the Šiauliai Cathedral, which happens every July, gather big numbers of pilgrims. Believers bring crosses to the Hill of Crosses from the Cathedral on other times as well, mainly from spring to the middle of autumn.

The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child is particularly worshipped in the Šiauliai Cathedral.

St. John Paul II:

On 8 May, 1997, on the order of Pope John Paul II, the Šiauliai diocese was created, and the church was elevated to the status of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The relics of John Paul II are guarded in the Chapel of Mercy.

Worship traditions:

The Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit – the Pentecost Feast – the Saturday and Sunday of Pentecost.

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul – the 29th of June (transferred to the nearest Sunday).

Information for visitors:

The cathedral is open every day from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

For more here.

What to see in Šiauliai here.

Church of Ignatius of Loyola in Šiauliai

Vilniaus st. 247B, Šiauliai

Significance:

Church of Ignatius of Loyola in Šiauliai is one of the most popular Catholic churches in Šiauliai. In 1993, it was visited by John Paul II.

History:

Jesuit monks, who came to Šiauliai in 1930, initiated the construction of the church. Unfortunately, it was closed during the Soviet era and not used for its intended purpose. It was finally returned to believers in 1990.

Key points for pilgrims:

St. John Paul II:

During his visit in Lithuania, John Paul II had a rest in House of Jesuits in Šiauliai, where he prayed at the Church of Ignatius of Loyola.

A 3-metre tall monument to Pope John Paul II was built in the churchyard. The piece created by sculptor Mindaugas Junčys was gifted to the church by a family of Šiauliai residents. A miraculous event, which happened during the Pope's visit, cannot be forgotten by believers: the Pope, while kneeling in the Church of Ignatius of Loyola, got some paint on his soutane, and later, on the statue built near the church, a red stain was noticed at the same exact spot, where Pope got paint on himself.

Worship traditions:

Every Thursday, after the evening Holy Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is organised in the Church. On the first Friday of the month, a Prayer and Wake evening is held along with the National Exorcist Association.

Information for visitors:

The Church is open one hour before the services begin.

For more here.

What to see in Šiauliai here.

Hill of Crosses

Piliakalnio st. 7, Domantai village, Meškuičiai eldership, Šiauliai district

Significance:

The hill with about 200 thousand crosses is the only such sacred place.

History:

A wooden castle occupied the Jurgaičiai hill (also called the Domantai hill, Šventkalnis or Pilies hill) back in the 11th-14th centuries. Since the 19th century, the hill is called Kryžių kalnas (Hill of Crosses). According to written records, 20 crosses adorned the hill in 1850, and almost a century later there were almost 400 of them. Some stories tell that this tradition was born after miraculous healings that would happen to people who would leave a cross on the site and pray to God for good health. Other sources claim crosses started to be placed in 1863 to commemorate the victims of the uprising against Tsarist rule. In the Interwar period, feasts were begun to celebrate on the Hill of Crosses, and during the Soviet occupation, the hill became a unique site of pilgrimage. After Lithuania regained its independence, the Hill of Crosses became a place of global pilgrimage. It was made even more famous by the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Key points for pilgrims:

On July 20, 1997, the first Šiauliai bishop Eugenijus Bartulis revived the Feast of the Hill of Crosses – it is celebrated on the last Sunday of July. Every year, pilgrimages of a bigger or smaller scale from the Hill of Crosses and back to it take place. While thanking or asking for something in this sacred place, the believers leave crosses, paintings, rosaries, etc.

St. John Paul II:

On September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II prayed and held Holy Mass on the Hill of Crosses. At his initiative, a Franciscan monastery was built near the Hill of Crosses.

Pilgrimages usually start and end at the crucifix near the Hill of Crosses, sent by John Paul II himself.

Worship traditions:

The Feast of the Hill of Crosses – the last Sunday of July..

Pilgrimage from the Šiauliai Cathedral to the Hill of Crosses – the last weekend of July.

Pilgrimage from the Hill of Crosses to Šiluva – the first weekend of September.

Information for visitors:

You can visit the Hill of Crosses at any time of the day or the year.

For more here.

What to see in Šiauliai here.

Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church

Nepriklausomybės a. 1, Rokiškis

Significance:

The Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church is one of the most beautiful ensembles of Neo-Gothic architecture in Lithuania.

History:

The Neo-Gothic St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church was built in 1877. Its founder was the Rokiškis count Reinholdas Tyzenhauzas. The church is characterised by its luxurious decorations – the big altar was cast out of bronze in Paris (France), the oak pulpit and the side altars – in Leuven (Belgium), the stained-glass windows – in Vienna (Austria). The church tower was designed by Austrian architect George Verner on the basis of the St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

Interestingly, the Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church preserves and uses a drum, which is a copy of the drum brought as a trophy from the Battle of Khotyn in 1673 by Hetman Mykolas Kazimieras Pacas, who gifted it to the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Vilnius. This 130-centimetre leather drum was gifted to the church by Reinholdas Tyzenhauzas.

Key points for pilgrims:

The Rokiškis Church has a distinctive religious tradition for the Blessed Virgin Mary – every August, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated here. The Church has Mary, the Queen of the Rosary, on the side altar, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows on the Heart of Christ altar, while the chapel in the cellar has the painting of the mosaic painting of the Gate of Dawn Mary.

On Easter, an impressive drum-beating ceremony takes place at the church. On Good Friday and the evening of the Holy Saturday, the drum is beaten during Mass. On the morning of Easter Sunday, it is beaten until Mass and during the Hymn of Honour, when the organ, the bells and the drum are all playing.

St. John Paul II:

Although the Pope did not pay a visit to the Rokiškis Church, it was included in the Pilgrimage of John Paul II, because of the love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a goal to showcase the beauty and significance of Lithuania’s only Neo-Gothic ensemble.

Worship traditions:

The Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – the third Friday after Pentecost.

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven – the 15th of August.

The Feast of the St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew – the 21st of September (transferred to the closer Sunday).

Information for visitors:

The church is open every day from 1.00 PM to 5.00 PM and during the Holy Mass.

For more here.

What to see in Rokiškis here.

Krekenava Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Bažnyčios g. 19, Krekenava, Panevėžys district

Significance:

This is the only daughter shrine of the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major in Lithuania. A miraculous painting of the Mother of God and Child has been worshipped here for centuries. The sanctuary is also famous for its Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

History:

The parish church in Krekenava dates back to 15th century. In 1901, a new brick church was finished. A miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary is honoured here. The Blessed Virgin Mary painting outside of celebrations is covered by the Romanas Švoinickis painting "Christ among the Krekenava Residents", for which actual Krekenava citizens actually posed for.

Key points for pilgrims:

Since the distant past, pilgrims circle the altar on their knees for their prayers to be heard while they are visiting the miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary – Mother of God in Krekenava.

Moreover, believers come to Krekenava not only for the Feast of the Assumption but also the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. People pray by another miraculous painting of the St. Anthony of Padua on the side altar of the Basilica.

St. John Paul II:

In 1999, Pope John Paul II gave a communal feast for the believers who visit the Krekenava holy house during the eight days of the Assumption, the 15th of any month and during the Feast of the St. Anthony of Padua. The uncovered painting of Pope John Paul II, painted by the artist Aušra Ratkevičienė in 2014, can be seen on the side altar of the Basilica.

Worship traditions:

The Celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, the Feast of the Assumption – August 15.

Monthly feast – the 15th of every month.

The Blessed Mary, Mother of God (New Years) – the 1st of January.

The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua – the 13th of July (transferred to the nearest Sunday).

The Feast of St. Mary of the Snows – the 5th of August.

The Feast of the Birth of St. Mary – the 8th of September.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary – the 8th of December.

Information for visitors:

The Basilica is open every day from 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM. As the basilica is under reconstructions, all services are held in the house of the parish.

For more here.

What to see in the district of Panevėžys here.

  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus of Vilnius

    Significance:

    Vilnius Cathedral Basilica is the most important Catholic church in the entire country and is a symbol of Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity.

    History:

    The first cathedral was built back in 1386 by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vladislovas Jogaila. The church had to be rebuilt several times due to frequent fires and raids by hostile armies. The cathedral we see today was reconstructed in the 18th century based on the project by architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius. The Cathedral is built in a Classicist style, its walls also incorporating certain Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements. The church’s bell is located in a tower that was once part of the defensive wall that surrounded the city.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    One of the most valuable examples of early Baroque architecture in Lithuania can be seen in the Cathedral, i.e. St. 'Casimirs Chapel, which houses the remains of St. Casimir, heir of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and patron of Lithuania. The Goštautai Chapel honours the long-famous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the earliest crowned painting of Mary in Vilnius, dating back to 1750. The dungeons of the Cathedral house one of two of the oldest frescoes in Lithuania that was painted in the end of the 14th – beginning of the 15th century. The fresco serves as testimony to the way Oriental and Western Christian traditions intertwined in the first decades after Lithuania converted to Christianity. In the centre of the fresco, we see a crucified Christ, and by the cross – his mother Mary and his favourite apostle John the Evangelist. The style of the painting, together with the Greek letters inside Christ's halo, reflect the influence of Byzantine art. At the same time, Jesus is nailed to the cross with three nails, as is common in the Catholic tradition.

    The dungeons of St. Casimirs Chapel also serve as the final resting place for the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander Jagellion (1460 – 1506), the wives of Sigismund Augustus - Elizabeth of Austria (1526 – 1545) and Barbara Radziwill (approx. 1522/23 – 1551), and the heart of Ladislaus IV of Poland (1595 – 1648). The discovery of the Royal crypt in 1931 became a real sensation. Visitors can also discover the minor tomb, which served as a temporary resting place for the rulers' remains for more than 300 years. The Valavičiai (former Royal) chapel is surprisingly beautiful yet subtle. Before the St. Casimir Chaple was erected, its crypt held the remains of St. Casimir.

    St. John Paul II:

    The Holy Father John Paul II began his historical apostolic journey around Lithuania with a prayer at the Vilnius Cathedral on September 4, 1993. Here, he met with priests, monks and clergy from all over Lithuania, and prayed at the sarcophagus of St. Casimir. Commemorating this historic visit, a marble plaque with a memorial inscription has been erected at Vilnius Cathedral.

    Worship traditions:

    St. 'Casimirs Feast. Every year, the 4th March is St. 'Casimirs Day. At that day, Holy Mass is held at the Vilnius Cathedral, and the traditional St. 'Casimirs weekend fair (Kaziuko mugė) encroaches upon the Old Town.

    Small St. 'Casimirs Feast. On the 4th of each month, at 12.30 PM, the Holy Mass is held at the Cathedral.

    Information for visitors:

    Vilnius Cathedral Basilica is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM. Guided tours at the Cathedral can be held only outside of service hours. If you wish to explore the Cathedral's dungeons, please contact CHURCH HERITAGE MUSEUM (www.bpmuziejus.lt )beforehand.

  • Vilnius Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, the so-called Gate of Dawn Chapel, and St. 'Teresa's Church

    Significance:

    The Gate of Dawn is one of the most iconic symbols of Vilnius. The miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, honoured in the Gate of Dawn Chapel, is considered one of the most famous Renaissance paintings in Lithuania. The painting is also called the Madonna of the Gates of Dawn or the Madonna of Vilnius. The Gate of Dawn, or Mother of Mercy Chapel, belongs to the European Marian Network, which unites a total of 20 sanctuaries.

    History:

    In the 16th century, the city of Vilnius was surrounded by a defensive wall with ten gates. The Gate of Dawn, first mentioned in 1514, was originally called the Medininkai Gate. The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was initially hung in a niche on the interior side of this gate and only later, with the efforts of the Carmelites, who came to Vilnius in the 17th century, was transferred to a wooden chapel, and eventually—after the chapel burned down—to a brick one. The late Classicist chapel acquired its present appearance after reconstruction in the 19th century. The facade of the chapel is reminiscent of a triumphal arch.

    The Church of St. Teresa of Avila, located in the neighbourhood of the Gate of Dawn Chapel, was built by the Discalced Carmelites in the middle of the 17th century. The church connects with the monastery. The walls and vaults of the church are decorated with frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Teresa of Avila, and the high altar is decorated with an 18th-century painting 'The Transverberation of St. 'Teresa's ' Heart'. St. 'Teresa's Church is one of the best monuments of early Baroque architecture in Vilnius.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, is honoured in the centre of the 'chapel's altar. The painting is believed to have been painted in the 17th century based on the work by the Dutch artist Martin de Vos. The painting was lined with gilded silver trim. The graces of the Mother of Mercy can be witnessed by the signs of thanksgiving, i.e. votive offerings.

    St. John Paul II:

    During his visit to Lithuania, Pope Saint John Paul II prayed the Rosary at the Gate of Dawn on September 4, 1993, together with worshippers from all over Lithuania and abroad. Before commencing the prayer that day, he reminded believers that there was a Lithuanian chapel in the Vatican decorated with a copy of the Blessed Virgin Mary painting.

    Worship traditions:

    The Small Feast for the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated on the 16th of each month.

    The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, the patron saint of the church, is celebrated on the 15th of October.

    The Great Feast for the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated for eight days on the week containing the 16th of November.

    Information for visitors:

    The Gate of Dawn Chapel is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

    For more here.

  • Vilnius Sanctuary of Divine Mercy

    Significance:

    The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy is one of Vilnius' main points of interest both for local believers and pilgrims from around the world. The original gracious image of the Merciful Jesus, painted in Vilnius according to the visions of Sister Faustina, is venerated here.

    History:

    The Gothic sanctuary, erected in the 15th or 16th century, was converted into an Orthodox church a few hundred years later and was returned to Catholics in 1920. In 1946–1947, priest Mykolas Sopočko, who came from Poland to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy and was a confessor of Sister Faustina, worked at the church. It was to him that Sister Faustina told of the revelations of Jesus, which inspired the image of Divine Mercy. In 1947, the Soviets closed the church again and used its premises for other purposes. 'The church was restored and consecrated with the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy title only in 2004.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    In the centre of the Sanctuary, above the altar is an original miraculous painting of the Merciful Jesus by the artist Eugenijus Kazimirovskis. It was created in 1934 based on the visions of Sister Faustina Kovalska. The painting depicts Jesus wearing a white tunic, blessing people with his right hand and touching his heart with his left, with whitish and red rays emanating therefrom. The rays symbolise the sacraments and graces that await those who will pray to this image and put their trust in Divine Mercy.

    A little further from the centre of Vilnius, one can also pay a visit to the house of St. Faustina, where she lived in 1933-1936 and experienced the visions described in her diary. The Corona of Mercy is prayed daily at 3.00 PM, which is a prayer dictated to the nun by the revealed Jesus. This place is included in the pilgrimage route 'Way of Divine Mercy' of Vilnius, the City of Divine Mercy.

    St. John Paul II:

    On the 5th of September, while visiting Vilnius, the Holy Father prayed to the image of the Merciful Jesus (which was kept in the Church of the Holy Spirit at that time). In 2000, John Paul II proclaimed Sister Faustina a saint and declared the first Sunday after Easter the Divine Mercy Sunday.

    Worship traditions:

    Divine Mercy Week is celebrated from the Easter Monday until Divine Mercy Sunday.

    Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.

    The Procession of Light takes place on Saturday evening before Divine Mercy Sunday and starts from the Gate of Dawn Chapel.

    The Small Feast of the Sanctuary takes place every Friday.

    Information for visitors:

    The church is open 24/7.

  • Vilnius Way of the Cross (Vilnius Calvary)

    Significance:

    Vilnius Calvary, founded in the 17th century, has long attracted large numbers of pilgrims. This sacred place is unique in Europe.

    History:

    In 15-16th century, when Calvaries (copies of Christ's Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, usually located in places where hills, valleys and streams resemble the landscape of Jerusalem) began to be built, Vilnius also started the search for a location for such place so that pilgrims without access to the Holy Land could repeat Jesus' last journey. The forested surroundings of Verkiai were especially suitable for this. There is evidence that the first procession from Vilnius to Verkiai took place in the 17th century. The Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross, a monastery and 20 brick chapels were built here, but the latter were demolished by the Soviets in the 20th century and were only restored in 2002.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Today, the Vilnius Calvary Ensemble consists of the Baroque-style Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and 35 Stations of the Cross. They are scattered among the hills of Golgotha, Mary, Zion, and Olives and the stream of Cedron. The Way of the Cross is 7 kilometres long.

    The altar of the Sorrowful Mother of God in Vilnius Calvary Church preserves a wooden relic of the Holy Cross.

    When Pope Saint John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses, he said that the Mystery of the Cross is the most crucial point to salvation, and encouraged to discover the cross as a symbol of reconciliation and a source of divine bliss gifted to Lithuania and its Catholic Church.

    St. John Paul II:

    Worship traditions:

    Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross is celebrated on Good Friday; the three days of Pentecost and on the first Saturday of every month, at 8 AM.

    The tribute to the relic of the Holy Cross is celebrated on the 14th of each month.

    Information for visitors:

    The Way of the Cross in Vilnius Calvaries can be walked all year round. Service at the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross takes place on Sundays at 10.30 AM, 12.00 AM and 4.00 PM, Saturdays at 7.00 PM, and weekdays at 7.00 AM and 7.00 PM.

  • Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai

    Significance:

    The Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Trakai peninsula is one of the eight basilicas in Lithuania. The church is famous for the painting of Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania, which tells about the deep tradition of Lithuania being perceived as a land under the patronage of Mary.

    History:

    It is believed that the Gothic church was built in the 15th century by the same craftsmen who worked at Trakai Castle on the island of Lake Galvė. The founder of the church was the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (his portrait still hangs in the sanctuary). After the reconstruction in the 17th-18th century, the church acquired the features of the late Baroque era, with remaining examples of Byzantine wall paintings. The miraculous image of Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania, is honoured on the high altar.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Worshipers have long been lured to the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai by the painting of the Mother Protectrix, Patron of Lithuania. The back of the painting bears a story about how this painting was gifted to Grand Duke Vytautas by the Byzantine Emperor on the occasion of his baptism. Historians believe that this inscription was added in the 18th century, when the painting of Mary was being prepared for its coronation ceremony. In 1994, an X-Ray analysis showed that this image of Mary was painted back in the 16th century and repainted in the 17th century according to guidelines dictating the way that the oldest and most miraculous images should be depicted. This is the first painting of the Virgin Mary in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that was coronated by the Vatican.

    St. John Paul II:

    In 2015, a monument to John Paul II was consecrated in the churchyard of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Worship traditions:

    The Feast of the Assumption, or the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 15th August

    The eighth day of the Trakai Feast, or the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, September 1–8. A pilgrimage from the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius to Trakai (about 30 km), as well as pilgrimages from the surrounding areas are organised during the Trakai Feast.

    Information for visitors:

    The basilica is open daily from 9.00 AM to 6.30 PM.

    Things to see in Trakai here.

  • Pivašiūnai Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    Significance:

    Pivašiūnai is considered to be one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in Lithuania owing this status to the painting of the Mother of God and the Child, famous for its miraculous graces, and solemn traditions of indulgences.

    History:

    Pivašiūnai Church is a monument of Lithuanian wooden sacral classicism architecture. The first Pivašiunai church was established by the Benedictines of Trakai. The current wooden Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the early 19th century. It is said that only the miraculous image of the Mother of God has survived the fires and is what the church has been most known for since then. It is located on the high altar.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Pivašiūnai is famous for the painting of the Mother of God and the Child, which was created by an unknown Lithuanian artist in the middle of the 17th century. The haloed images of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus symbolise the Queen of Heaven and the Redeemer. The plentiful votive offerings at the painting testify to the divine grace received by the believers.

    St. John Paul II:

    During the Feast of the Assumption of 1988, Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius coronated the painting known for its divine grace with the crowns gifted by John Paul II. The painting was titled Our Lady of Consolation to commemorate Mary’s care towards the Lithuanian Catholic Church that had survived Soviet oppression and was already facing new challenges at that time.

    Worship traditions:

    Some pilgrims recite the glorious Mysteries of the Rosary as they climb the high hill adorned by Pivašiūnai Church. Every tenth step is decorated with a pillar dedicated to the mysteries, created by local craftsman Algirdas Judickas. One of the steps is dedicated to reciting Ave Maria.

    The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated for eight days 15th to 22nd of August.

    The Feast of Our Lady of Consolation is celebrated on the 15th of each month.

    Information for visitors:

    The church is open during services only.

    Things to see in Alytus here.

  • Marijampolė Basilica of St. Michael, the Archangel, and the Chapel of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis in his native Lūginė

    Significance:

    Marijampolė is the only town in Lithuania named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the Marian monastery. Pilgrims from Lithuania and other countries come to the Basilica of St. Archangel Michael to pray beside the remains of Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis buried there. .

    History:

    The present basilica was erected in 1824 in place of a wooden church built in the middle of the 18th century and later destroyed by fire. It was granted the Little Basilica title in 1992. The church, which contains Classicist and Neo-Baroque features, has six altars.

    In 1934, the remains of Blessed Archbishop J. Matulaitis were transferred to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Blessed J. Matulaitis renewed the Marian Monastery, made his own vows, established the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. On December 1, 1918, Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis was appointed the bishop of Vilnius diocese, and later on, appointed the apostolic visitor of the Holy See in Lithuania. His knowledge and efforts were crucial for the establishment of stronger ties between Lithuania and the Holy See, the creation of the Lithuanian ecclesiastical province and preparing the concordat. You can learn more about his life at the Museum of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis in the Marijampolė Marian Monastery

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Worshippers can also visit the Chapel of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis near Marijampolė, built in 1991 in his home village of Lūginė. A famous tradition to commemorate the anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, is to walk from Marijampolė to Lūginė Chapel in July.

    The altar of the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in Marijampolė also houses a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child, famous for its graces.

    St. John Paul II:

    On 28 June 1987, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis blessed'. Every year in July, there is a week-long solemn celebration in Marijampolė Basilica of the anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis.

    Worship traditions:

    Liturgical commemoration of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, feast, the 27th January.

    Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the 13th of June.

    The eighth day of the Feast of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis (commemorating the day of his beatification), from the Sunday before the 12th of July to the Sunday after it.

    The Feast of St. Archangel Michael, the main patron of the church, the 29th September.

    Šv. arkangelo Mykolo, pagrindinio bažnyčios globėjo, atlaidai – sekmadienį, artimiausią rugsėjo 29 d.

    Information for visitors:

    The Basilica is open from 7.00 AM to 7 PM.

    Things to see in Marijampolė here.

  • Kaunas Cathedral Basilica of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul

    Significance:

    Kaunas Cathedral Basilica is one of the largest and oldest churches in Lithuania. It is also largest Gothic-style sacral building in Lithuania. The basilica is famous for its painting of the Gracious Mother.

    History:

    . Kaunas St. Peter's Church was founded by Vytautas the Great at the beginning of the 15th century and was later repeatedly reconstructed. In 1895, the church was granted the status of a cathedral, in 1921 it was given the title of a small basilica, and in 1926 it was promoted to the rank of an archcathedral basilica. The current archcathedral has nine altars, the most recent of which is the altar of Pope Saint John Paul II with a relic of the Holy Father. Famous clergymen and bishops are buried in the crypt and churchyard of the archcathedral, and the first Lithuanian cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius is buried in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Worshippers are drawn to the sanctuary by the 16th-century graceful painting of the Sorrowful Mother of God and the 17th-century painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The painting of the Sorrowful Mother of God depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary holding her Son removed from the cross, and is the oldest painting in the archcathedral. The votive offerings left by the people testify to its graces.

    St. John Paul II:

    The Pope prayed in the sanctuary on September 6, 1993, during his visit to Lithuania (this event is immortalised on a memorial plaque at the side entrance to the basilica). The renovated side altar of Kaunas Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul holds the honoured relic of St. John Paul II since 2013.

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle, 22nd of February (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

    Feast of the Sorrowful Blessed Virgin Mary, Friday before the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

    Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 29th of June.

    Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, 9th of November.

    Information for visitors:

    The cathedral is open daily from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

    Things to see in Kaunas here.

  • Kaunas Christ's Resurrection Church

    Significance:

    Christ's Resurrection Basilica is a monument to the suffering, resurrection and freedom of the Lithuanian nation. It is the largest basilica church in the three Baltic States.

    History:

    This exceptional church was built as a sign of gratitude to God for the regained independence of Lithuania. Erected in 1940, the church was quickly repurposed as a radio factory by the Soviets. The sanctuary was returned to the faithful only in 1990. The renovation and reconstruction of the Church lasted for a decade. In 2015, Pope Francis granted the Christ's Resurrection Church the title of a small basilica.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Pilgrims can also pray on the roof of the Basilica, in the chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva. The church’s altar preserves a relic of St. Anthony.

    St. John Paul II:

    Christ's Resurrection Basilica reflects the path of the Lithuanian nation in the 20th century and symbolises the nation’s spiritual renaissance – something John Paul II wished Lithuania in prayers.

    The Basilica of the Resurrection of Christ reflects the twentieth century of the Lithuanian nation. the path it has taken and seems to mark the spiritual revival that John Paul II desires for it.

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter):

    Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, moveable to the third Sunday after Pentecost.

    Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the 8th of September (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

    Information for visitors:

    The basilica is open from 9.00 AM to 6.30 PM, as well as during services.

    Things to see in Kaunas here.

  • • Pažaislis Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and former Abbey Ensemble

    Significance:

    The Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with its former Abbey is one of the masterpieces of mature Baroque architecture in North-Eastern Europe. It is famous for his miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which attracts pilgrims.

    History:

    The construction of Pažaislis Church and Monastery on the Kaunas Lagoon Peninsula was initiated in the 17th century by the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Kristupas Zigmantas Pacas. He enlisted the help of Italian artists, namely Italian architects Giovanni Battista Frediani and Pietro Puttini, painter Michelangelo Palloni, sculptor Giovanni Maria Merli. More than a hundred different frescoes have survived in this Italian Baroque-style monastery. Today, the monastery is owned by the Sisters of St. Casimir.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    On the high altar of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one can see the painting of the Beautiful Mother of Love, famous for its graces. The painting was donated by Pope Alexander VII in 1661 to the founder of Pažaislis Church. It is the work of an unknown Flemish artist of the 17th century. A large number of pilgrims is also attracted by the solemn Feast of the Assumption.

    Ansamblis garsėja ir kasmetiniu tarptautiniu Pažaislio muzikos festivaliu, svetingumo kompleksu „Monte Pacis“ su viešbučiu ir restoranu.

    St. John Paul II:

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, the 31st of May (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

    Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 15th of August.

    Information for visitors:

    The ensemble can be visited on Tuesday-Friday from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM, and on Saturdays from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM. The first Saturday of each month is for pilgrims and worshippers, with the Holy Mass being held at at 12 PM.

    Things to see in Kaunas here.

  • Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Šiluva, Šiluva Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    Significance:

    Šiluva is one of the most important spiritual centres of Lithuania and places of manifestation of the Virgin Mary, sometimes called Lithuanian Lourdes. Pilgrims are attracted to Šiluva not only because it is a place where Mary had appeared, but because also the traditional Feast of Šilinės, which has been taking place here for almost 500 years.

    History:

    There is a surviving written account that in 1608 the shepherds while grazing the herd, saw a girl crying on one large stone with a baby in her arms. They asked the reason for her distress, and the girl replied: 'I am crying because my Son was worshipped in this place before, and now this land is used to grow wheat.' Locals remembered that there was indeed a church in this place, and after digging deeper, they found a chest with the treasure of the Šiluva Church. Thus, a wooden church was built on the site of the apparition of Mary, and the Feast of Šilinės, known since the 15th century, was revived. The red-brick Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the 18th century, its interior decoration remaining unchanged to this day. The Basilica also houses the famous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child, adorned with the papal crowns.

    As the 300th anniversary of the apparition of Mary approached, architect Antanas Vivulskis designed the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the middle of the 44 m high chapel, there is an altar built on a stone on which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1608. The Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary together with the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the square between them form a sacred space. It hosts the primary services during the feast.

    Key points for pilgrims

    The great altar of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary houses a miraculous image of the Mother of God and the Child. It was painted in the 17th century based on the example of the Our Lady of the Snow in Rome. The upholstery of the painting is minted from votive offerings donated by people in gratitude for the graces they have experienced. In the Chapel of the Revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, worshippers pray by walking the paths around the altar built on the stone on which Mary appeared.

    The Feast of Šilinės is the largest mass religious gathering in Lithuania.

    St. John Paul II:

    During the fourth day of his stay in Lithuania, on September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II visited Šiluva—he prayed in the Chapel of the Revelation, kissing the stone on which the Virgin Mary appeared. Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Pope's visit, a monument to the Holy Father was unveiled in 2008 in Šiluva Square between the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Chapel of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    There are more memorials commemorating the papal visit to Šiluva: The golden rosary donated by him is kept in the Šiluva Museum; the street of Šiluva Town, which runs along the square through the Basilica and the Chapel of the Apparition, was named after John Paul II by the decision of Raseiniai Municipality; the Pilgrim House of John Paul II established in Šiluva also reminds of the Holy Father; a cross was erected on the site where his helicopter landed.

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of Šilinės or the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8–15th of September.

    Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 31st of May (moveable to the nearest Sunday).

    Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, moveable to the third Sunday after Pentecost.

    Mary's Day, the 13th of each month.

    Information for visitors:

    In May-October, the basilica and the chapel are open from 8.00 AM to 8.00 PM, and in November–April from 8.00 AM to 3.00 PM.

    Things to see in Raseiniai here.

  • Tytuvėnai Church and Monastery Complex

    Significance:

    This is one of the most valuable examples of 17th-18th century sacral architecture Lithuania, which has already been discovered by pilgrims from across the world. The place is known for the painting of Mother of God and Child that is famous for its graces, as well as for the Chapel of Holy Steps and the tradition of feasts.

    History:

    17th-century noble Andriejus Valavicius was the fundator of the Tytuvėnai Church and Monastery Complex. His brother, Jeronimas Valavicius took his place after his death. Later on, the Chapel of the Holy Steps with the altar of Jesus Christ Crucified and the gallery of the Stations of the Cross were built. This Way of the Cross has the largest number of stations (a total of 39), compared to other similar constructions in Lithuania. The monastery ensemble, which was started in the Gothic spirit, is full of Renaissance style details, but the biggest tribute was paid to Baroque architecture.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    The main church altar holds the painting of the Mother of God and Child which has been venerated since the 17th century. After the Stations of the Cross and the Chapel of the Holy Steps were built in the 18th century, pilgrims would travel to Tytuvėnai for the intercession of the Mother of God, as well as to walk the Way of the Cross and the Holy Stairs. There is a tradition to ascend the stairs on your knees and kiss the sacred relics, covered by glass on every step of the stairs. Every year, on the last Sunday of August, pilgrims travel from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva.

    St. John Paul II:

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of St. Anthony – the 13th of June (transferred to Sunday).

    Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the first Sunday of July.

    Feast of Our Lady Queen of the Angels (Porziuncola) – the first Sunday of August.

    Pilgrimage from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva, bearing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima – the last Sunday of August.

    Information for visitors:

    What to see in Kelmė here.

  • Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda

    Significance:

    This is the only Catholic Church in both Lithuania and the Baltic States that was built in the Soviet era.

    History:

    The sanctuary, built in 1957-1960, was supposed to fill the shortage of Catholic places of worship in the port city, after almost all of them were destroyed during World War II. Unfortunately, the Soviets did not allow the built church to open – they started demolishing and destroying it. The believers reclaimed the church only in 1988. You can find out more about the history of the church from the archival photos in the church tower by climbing to the observation deck, which stands 47 metres tall.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    The churchyard serves as the final resting place for many of its former priests, including Bronislovas Burneikis, who helped restore the church in 1988. for one of its builders, who helped restore it in 1988, priest Bronislovas Burneikis. The churchyard also hosts the restored Cross of Hope, from where pilgrim journeys in Klaipėda start.

    St. John Paul II:

    Knowing how much John Paul II did for the fight against Communism, it is important to note that Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda is the only Catholic church in the Baltics that was built under Soviet occupation. The church reflects the resistance and perseverance of the believers who continued to disseminate Catholic culture during Soviet years.

    Worship traditions:

    Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace – the 22nd of August (transferred to Sunday).

    Feast of John the Baptist – the 24th of June..

    Feast of Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face – the 1st of October (transferred to Sunday).

    Information for visitors:

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    What to see in Klaipėda here.

  • Basilica of the Holy Mother Mary Visitation and the Chapels of the Way of the Cross in Žemaičių Kalvarija

    Significance:

    This is the pilgrim centre of West Lithuania, famous for its miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child, the Queen of Christian Families, its authentic traditions of the Hill of Crosses and the Great Žemaičių Kalvarija Festival.

    History:

    By the decision of Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the land of Gardai (now – Žemaičių Kalvarija), was given to the bishop of Žemaičiai diocese in the 15th century. Bishop Jurgis Tiškevičius invited the Dominicans to settle here in 1637. At their initiative, the first Way of the Cross was established in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Chapels of Christ's Way of Sorrows were built, and the Great Festival was started to be celebrated. The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child, brought from Rome, started to gain traction for its graces from the middle of the 16th century. A new brick church was consecrated instead of the former wooden ones in 1824.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    It is suggested to start your visit in Žemaičių Kalvarija with a prayer by the painting of the Mother of God, famous for its miracles, in the Basilica of the Holy Mother Visitation. In 2006, it was crowned by Pope Benedict XVI with consecrated crowns, and it was given the title of the Queen of Christian Families. Here, pilgrims traditionally start and end their Way of the Cross. The Via Dolorosa of Žemaičių Kalvarija, which is 4.5 km long, consists of 19 folk architecture chapels with 20 stations. The procession of the Way of the Cross takes about 3 hours, including the psalms and sermons in three places.

    The church and the chapels guard other relics, which are important to believers, like the largest relic of the Holy Cross in the Baltic States, a wooden piece from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a copy of the nail of Christ brought from Rome, a pebble from the Hill of Golgotha in Jerusalem and a photocopy of the Shroud of Turin.

    St. John Paul II:

    In 1988, the Holy Father vested the Žemaičių Kalvarija Church with the title of Basilica and started the coronation process with the papal crowns of the miraculous Mother of God and Child painting.

    Worship traditions:

    The Great Žemaičių Kalvarija, or the Holy Mother Visitation Festival – July 2-12

    Monthly Feast – the 2nd of every month.

    The titular feast of the parish – the 31st of May.

    The hills of the Way of the Cross are collectively walked during the Monthly Feast after the 12.00 PM Holy Mass and during the Great Festival after every Holy Mass (the main procession is after the 12.00 PM Holy Mass, bearing the relic of the Saint Cross).

    Information for visitors:

    The Basilica is open from 9 AM to 8 PM in the summer, in the winter it is open one hour before the Holy Mass, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM to 1 PM.

    What to see in Plungė here.

  • Šiauliai Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

    Significance:

    Šiauliai Cathedral is the beginning of the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses. The Cathedral is the most significant example of Renaissance-era Mannerist architecture in Lithuania.

    History:

    The brick church in Šiauliai was built in the 17th century instead of the former wooden church. The sanctuary was severely damaged by wars and storms, the altars, which had burnt down after World War II, were rebuilt only in the 1960s. The distinctive features of Renaissance architecture are the 70 m tower which stands tall above the city, the sundial on the South wall and the only churchyard gates with defensive towers and shooting openings in Lithuania.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Pilgrims start the 12 km walk to the Hill of Crosses exactly from the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Šiauliai. The Feast of the Hill of Crosses and the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses, led by the bishop of the Šiauliai Cathedral, which happens every July, gather big numbers of pilgrims. Believers bring crosses to the Hill of Crosses from the Cathedral on other times as well, mainly from spring to the middle of autumn.

    The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child is particularly worshipped in the Šiauliai Cathedral.

    St. John Paul II:

    On 8 May, 1997, on the order of Pope John Paul II, the Šiauliai diocese was created, and the church was elevated to the status of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The relics of John Paul II are guarded in the Chapel of Mercy.

    Worship traditions:

    The Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit – the Pentecost Feast – the Saturday and Sunday of Pentecost.

    The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul – the 29th of June (transferred to the nearest Sunday).

    Information for visitors. Katedra atvira kasdien nuo 7 val. iki 19 val.

    Information for visitors:

    What to see in Šiauliai here.

  • Church of Ignatius of Loyola in Šiauliai

    Significance:

    History:

    Jesuit monks, who came to Šiauliai in 1930, initiated the construction of the church. Unfortunately, it was closed during the Soviet era and not used for its intended purpose. It was finally returned to believers in 1990.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    St. John Paul II:

    During his visit in Lithuania, John Paul II had a rest in House of Jesuits in Šiauliai, where he prayed at the Church of Ignatius of Loyola.

    A 3-metre tall monument to Pope John Paul II was built in the churchyard. The piece created by sculptor Mindaugas Junčys was gifted to the church by a family of Šiauliai residents. A miraculous event, which happened during the Pope's visit, cannot be forgotten by believers: the Pope, while kneeling in the Church of Ignatius of Loyola, got some paint on his soutane, and later, on the statue built near the church, a red stain was noticed at the same exact spot, where Pope got paint on himself.

    Worship traditions:

    Every Thursday, after the evening Holy Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is organised in the Church. On the first Friday of the month, a Prayer and Wake evening is held along with the National Exorcist Association.

    Information for visitors:

    The Church is open one hour before the services begin.

    What to see in Šiauliai here.

  • Kryžių kalnas

    Significance:

    The hill with about 200 thousand crosses is the only such sacred place.

    History:

    A wooden castle occupied the Jurgaičiai hill (also called the Domantai hill, Šventkalnis or Pilies hill) back in the 11th-14th centuries. Since the 19th century, the hill is called Kryžių kalnas (Hill of Crosses). According to written records, 20 crosses adorned the hill in 1850, and almost a century later there were almost 400 of them. Some stories tell that this tradition was born after miraculous healings that would happen to people who would leave a cross on the site and pray to God for good health. Other sources claim crosses started to be placed in 1863 to commemorate the victims of the uprising against Tsarist rule. In the Interwar period, feasts were begun to celebrate on the Hill of Crosses, and during the Soviet occupation, the hill became a unique site of pilgrimage. After Lithuania regained its independence, the Hill of Crosses became a place of global pilgrimage. It was made even more famous by the visit of Pope John Paul II.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    On July 20, 1997, the first Šiauliai bishop Eugenijus Bartulis revived the Feast of the Hill of Crosses – it is celebrated on the last Sunday of July. Every year, pilgrimages of a bigger or smaller scale from the Hill of Crosses and back to it take place. While thanking or asking for something in this sacred place, the believers leave crosses, paintings, rosaries, etc.

    St. John Paul II:

    On September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II prayed and held Holy Mass on the Hill of Crosses. At his initiative, a Franciscan monastery was built near the Hill of Crosses.

    Pilgrimages usually start and end at the crucifix near the Hill of Crosses, sent by John Paul II himself.

    Worship traditions:

    The Feast of the Hill of Crosses – the last Sunday of July..

    Pilgrimage from the Šiauliai Cathedral to the Hill of Crosses – the last weekend of July.

    Pilgrimage from the Hill of Crosses to Šiluva – the first weekend of September.

    Information for visitors:

    You can visit the Hill of Crosses at any time of the day or the year.

    What to see in Šiauliai here.

  • Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church

    Significance:

    The Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church is one of the most beautiful ensembles of Neo-Gothic architecture in Lithuania.

    History:

    The Neo-Gothic St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church was built in 1877. Its founder was the Rokiškis count Reinholdas Tyzenhauzas. The church is characterised by its luxurious decorations – the big altar was cast out of bronze in Paris (France), the oak pulpit and the side altars – in Leuven (Belgium), the stained-glass windows – in Vienna (Austria). The church tower was designed by Austrian architect George Verner on the basis of the St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

    Interestingly, the Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew Church preserves and uses a drum, which is a copy of the drum brought as a trophy from the Battle of Khotyn in 1673 by Hetman Mykolas Kazimieras Pacas, who gifted it to the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Vilnius. This 130-centimetre leather drum was gifted to the church by Reinholdas Tyzenhauzas.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    The Rokiškis Church has a distinctive religious tradition for the Blessed Virgin Mary – every August, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated here. The Church has Mary, the Queen of the Rosary, on the side altar, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows on the Heart of Christ altar, while the chapel in the cellar has the painting of the mosaic painting of the Gate of Dawn Mary.

    On Easter, an impressive drum-beating ceremony takes place at the church. On Good Friday and the evening of the Holy Saturday, the drum is beaten during Mass. On the morning of Easter Sunday, it is beaten until Mass and during the Hymn of Honour, when the organ, the bells and the drum are all playing.

    St. John Paul II:

    Although the Pope did not pay a visit to the Rokiškis Church, it was included in the Pilgrimage of John Paul II, because of the love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a goal to showcase the beauty and significance of Lithuania’s only Neo-Gothic ensemble.

    Worship traditions:

    The Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – the third Friday after Pentecost.

    The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven – the 15th of August.

    The Feast of the St. Apostle Evangelist Matthew – the 21st of September (transferred to the closer Sunday).

    Information for visitors:

    The church is open every day from 1.00 PM to 5.00 PM and during the Holy Mass.

    What to see in Rokiškis here.

  • Krekenava Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    Significance:

    This is the only daughter shrine of the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major in Lithuania. A miraculous painting of the Mother of God and Child has been worshipped here for centuries. The sanctuary is also famous for its Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    History:

    The parish church in Krekenava dates back to 15th century. In 1901, a new brick church was finished. A miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary is honoured here. The Blessed Virgin Mary painting outside of celebrations is covered by the Romanas Švoinickis painting "Christ among the Krekenava Residents", for which actual Krekenava citizens actually posed for.

    Key points for pilgrims:

    Since the distant past, pilgrims circle the altar on their knees for their prayers to be heard while they are visiting the miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary – Mother of God in Krekenava.

    Moreover, believers come to Krekenava not only for the Feast of the Assumption but also the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. People pray by another miraculous painting of the St. Anthony of Padua on the side altar of the Basilica.

    St. John Paul II:

    In 1999, Pope John Paul II gave a communal feast for the believers who visit the Krekenava holy house during the eight days of the Assumption, the 15th of any month and during the Feast of the St. Anthony of Padua. The uncovered painting of Pope John Paul II, painted by the artist Aušra Ratkevičienė in 2014, can be seen on the side altar of the Basilica.

    Worship traditions:

    The Celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, the Feast of the Assumption – August 15.

    Monthly feast – the 15th of every month.

    The Blessed Mary, Mother of God (New Years) – the 1st of January.

    The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua – the 13th of July (transferred to the nearest Sunday).

    The Feast of St. Mary of the Snows – the 5th of August.

    The Feast of the Birth of St. Mary – the 8th of September.

    Information for visitors:

    The Basilica is open every day from 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM. As the basilica is under reconstructions, all services are held in the house of the parish.

    What to see in the district of Panevėžys here.

***
More information about religious tourism in Lithuania here.
More information about spiritual experiences in Lithuania here.
Useful information for pilgrims: the pilgrim ABC here.
Useful information for pilgrims in Vilnius here.