With this leaflet, we invite you to experience Vilnius’ most holy places, feel the Mercy of God, and witness the seven works of mercy for the body and soul. Even a short visit to one or more of these holy places will lighten your spirits and give you hope. Explore Vilnius – a City of Mercy.
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After being housed in several different churches over the years, the painting of God’s Mercy is now worshiped by believers in the whitewashed space of the Shrine of Divine Mercy. Famous for the grace it bestows on visitors, the painting is the work of Eugene Kazimirowski, who painted it in 1934 in Vilnius according to the visions of Saint Faustina. Following its creation, copies of the small image soon spread around the world. Today, it is one of the most recognisable and respected paintings in the Catholic Church, and pilgrims travel thousands of kilometres just to see it. The Shrine of Divine Mercy offers visitors the blessing of Jesus through the painting. With his raised right hand, the Saviour grants His blessing to all those who are confident, and with His left hand, which touches His robe right by His heart, he spreads his grace, heals and breathes life into souls. Pilgrims are always welcome here – there is a feast of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the shrine 24 hours per day.
V. Grybo g. 29, I-VII 10:00-17:00
The Apostle of Divine Mercy, Faustina Kowalska, lived in the Convent of the Congregation of the Mother of Mercy in Vilnius from 1933 to 1936. Here she experienced many revelations of Jesus through which she was asked to fulfil the message of God’s Mercy to the world. A prayer of Mercy was dictated to Sister Faustina in Vilnius. In this city she also met Father Michael Sopoćko, who helped her fulfil Jesus’ request. Thanks to him the painting of God’s Mercy was painted in Vilnius, the celebration of Mercy Sunday was initiated in the city, and a new monastery, which is known today as the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, began to commemorate. Encouraged by Father Sopoćko, Sister Faustina began writing a diary that today is one of the most famous mystical experiences in the world of literature. Pope John Paul II canonised Sister Faustina in 2000. Today, when visiting the former residence of Saint Faustina, you can concentrate, pray and participate in events dedicated to Mercy.
Aušros Vartų g. 14, www.ausrosvartai.lt
Nowadays, the Gates of Dawn is one of the most important historical and religious sites in Vilnius. It is not just the chapel itself that is so important, it is also the street that leads to the gate, which is always crowded with believers and tourists admiring a very special view – the painting of the Mother of Mercy. Originally, these city gates were like the others in the wall surrounding the Old Town; however, in the 16th century they were given to the Carmelites the Chapel of God’s Mother was added to the Gates of Dawn. Here, the painting of the Holy Virgin Mary found a place. Painted in the first part of 17th century and later decorated with gold-plated silver embellishments, the painting has a deep history surrounded by legend, as evidenced by the many prayer candles brought by visitors. The Mother of Mercy at the Gates of Dawn has been uniting believers from all nations and confessions since its creation. Today’s Gates of Dawn remains a special place not only for the prayers but also for anyone seeking care from the Mother of Christ, support in the struggle of spirit, or wisdom to help make difficult decisions. Visit the Gates of Dawn and ask for your miracle.
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The Catholic Women’s Congregation, founded by the Blessed M. Sopoćko, helps spread God’s mercy. The purpose of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus is to glorify and proclaim the mercy of God, to pray for others, and to do works of mercy. The congregation was founded as a religious institution to be set up in Vilnius; however, because of the Second World War, it was formally founded in Poland. The Sisters arrived in Vilnius in 2001 and settled in the former residence of a monastery building. The present monastery chapel, which is from the interwar period, was the studio of the painter Eugene Kazimirowski, known for creating the image of the Merciful Jesus, which he painted using instructions from Sister Faustina in 1934 based on her visions. The entire territory is known as the Hill of the Saviour. It serves as the historical centre of mercy and has been home to charities like the Monasteries of Visitations, Missionaries and the Merciful Sisters since the 17th century. Today, the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus have established a hospice and nursing home at the monastery for those with oncological diseases. Here you can directly touch mercy with yourself and keep God’s message going.
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The Dominican Order monks in Lithuania stayed during Gediminas’ time, so a wooden church in this place had already existed in 1321, and the stone Church of the Holy Spirit was built in 1408. It is one of the most charming churches in Vilnius, with its impressive Rococo ornaments; sixteen altars, spectacular organs designed by Adam Gottlob Casparini in the 18th century, and 45 paintings, which are kept as monuments. From 1986 to 2005, the painting of the Divine Mercy was respected here. The steady history of the church preserves a wealth of secrets, not only in the church but also in the underground ensembles, which houses the remains of the victims of wars and epidemics Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit are held in Polish, but all pilgrims are welcome to feel and share the aura of six hundred years of spirituality. Pope John Paul II visited the church on 5 September 1993. The right nave of the church is equipped with an altar dedicated to St John Paul II, which incorporates the Pope’s blood into its relic.
Katedros a., www.katedra.lt
The country’s most important Catholic shrine, the Cathedral, is the symbol of Lithuania’s baptism. The oldest masonry, dating back from the 13th to 15th centuries, and the oldest Lithuanian fresco, painted in the 14th century and depicting the crucifixion of Christ, remain in the Cathedral’s catacombs. The site also houses the remains of the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland Alexander, Zygmunt August’s wives Elizabeth and Barbora Radvilaitė, as well as the urn containing the heart of Duke Wladyslaw. The Cathedral as it is seen today is the result of a reconstruction project headed by Laurynas Gucevičius in 1801. The Cathedral is also home to one of the most precious examples of early Baroque art – the Chapel of Saint Casimir, which holds the saint’s remains. Visitors flock to the site to see the painting of St. Mary the Virgin (Madonna of the Sapiega) in the Cathedral’s Gostautas Chapel, which has been known for its miracles for a long time. The work is also one of the earliest examples of a painting of Mary in Europe crowned by the Pope (1750).
Šv. Mykolo g. 9, II-VI 11:00-18:00, www.bpmuziejus.lt
The treasury of the Vilnius Cathedral is the oldest and most abundant treasure trove of all the churches of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It began to accumulate immediately after Lithuania’s christening and the establishment of Vilnius Cathedral in 1387, and its history reflects the entire life of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The treasury holds a large and impressive collection of goldsmith masterpieces; a monstrance, ecclesiastical cups, relics, many church utensils and tapestries. Despite the treasury suffering damages and looting in a number of wars, its collection has continued to grow to this day. The treasury was hidden at the beginning of the Second World War and was rediscovered unintentionally only in 1985, leading to the restoration of the sanctuary – 189 treasures are registered in a special act. The Cathedral’s treasure trove has been open to the public since 2009 and is now exhibited in the Church Heritage Museum. However, the impressive liturgical objects are also lent and used today in masses held at Vilnius Cathedral. There are also various expositions and constantly updated exhibitions in the museum. The museum’s most valued treasure is the crystalline reliquary of St. Eustachian in the shape of cross, which was a gift to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s Vilnius Voivodship from Chancellor Albertas Gostautas, as well as monstrance given to the Church of St. Nicholas by Geranainiai.
Vasario 16-osios g. 10, www.vilniausdom.wixsite.com/vilniaus-dominikonai
The first church in Lukiškės was founded on 1 May 1642, the day of the Apostles Philip and Jacob. In a specially equipped altar near the central altar, the image of the Mother of God of Lukiškės is painted on the tree and glorified by miracles. Dominicans were evicted in 1844, and during the Soviet era the church was supposed to be destroyed, but, albeit abandoned, it managed to be preserved. After returning the church to the believers in 1992, Dominicans settled down after a year in the monastery. The centre of the General Vicar’s Office of the Dominicans of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has since been established here.
The monument of the Three Crosses was erected to commemorate seven Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius, who were executed during the reign of Grand Duke Algirdas. It was built on the Crooked/Grey Hill, which is now known as the Hill of Three Crosses. The concrete Monument of Three Crosses was designed in 1916, by the famous architect Antanas Vivulskis. In 1950 the Soviet government destroyed the original monument, though its remnants can be seen at the foot of the hill. The present monument of the Three Crosses was reconstructed in 1989, just before the restoration of Lithuania’s independence.