From the hills of Antakalnis, through the scenic labyrinths of Vilnius Old Town streets, to the little town of Tabariskes, located near the border with Belarus, the Way of Mercy connects places that were settings for the great apostles of Divine Mercy – St. Faustina and her spiritual director Blessed Michael Sopocko.
Sister Faustina Kowalska, who was declared a saint in the year 2000, lived in Vilnius in 1929 and from 1933 to 1936 at the convent house of Our Lady of Mercy. It was in multicultural interwar Vilnius that St. Faustina experienced her most significant visions of Jesus. In Vilnius she met her spiritual director and confessor, Blessed Father Michael Sopocko. He encouraged St. Faustina to write a diary, and it is thanks to him that the image of Divine Mercy was painted, that the first homilies about Divine Mercy were given and that devotion to the Divine Mercy was initiated.
Bl. Michael Sopocko spent most of his life in Vilnius and its environs: his childhood, when he would visit shrines in the city with his parents, years of study and work at the university, and priestly service at churches in Vilnius and among its communities of the faithful.
Every last Saturday during the summer months, the Vilnius pilgrim center organizes the Way of Mercy. You can contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Descriptions, photos and details
House of Saint Faustina
The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, the order St. Faustina belonged to, came to Vilnius in 1908 and established a convent in Antakalnis. The sisters cared for women, former prisoners and juvenile offenders, also tending to a military hospital, baking bread and washing clothes. The convent had a large garden from which several apple trees remain still today. St. Faustina experienced many of her visions while living at the convent house in Vilnius.
The only remaining building of the convent, the one in which St. Faustina lived, has been restored. In her recreated cell, relics of St. Faustina and Bl. Fr. Michael Sopocko are venerated. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which was dictated to St. Faustina in this very building of the convent on September 13-14, 1935, is prayed every day at 3.00 p.m.. The text of the Chaplet in the Lithuanian language was approved in 1942 by Bishop Mecislovas Reinys, who at the time was an aide to the archbishop of Vilnius.
Monday–Sunday – 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Chaplet of Divine Mercy is prayed daily at 3 p.m.
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Former Carmelite Monastery
In revelations to St. Faustina in 1935, Jesus asked that a new religious order be established. Bl. M. Sopocko began to arrange for the creation of the order. The first candidate for admission, Jadwiga Osinska, took temporary vows in 1941 at an Ursuline convent on Skapo Street. The next year, five more candidates took temporary vows. The vows were renewed each year. The night of November 16, 1944, in the chapel here of what was then a Carmelite monastery, a solemn profession of vows was led by Bl. M. Sopocko, who had returned from hiding in Juodsiliai. That was the beginning of the establishment of the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Mercy. At the end of World War II, the sisters left for Poland. The congregation was approved by an official decree in 1955.
Convent of Sisters of Merciful Jesus
From 1932 to 1934, Bl. M. Sopocko resided with the Sisters of the Visitation during which he wrote his dissertation. In 1933, as the confessor of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, he met with St. Faustina, who told him of Jesus’s request that a painting be made. The artist Eugenijus Kazimirovskis also lived and worked in the very same building. At the request of Bl. M. Sopocko, he painted the image of Divine Mercy. During the first half of 1934, St. Faustina visited here several times a week to see how the painting was advancing and to give further instructions.
Savior Hill in Vilnius is a historical Mercy center, given the presence here since the 17th century of convents of the Sisters of the Visitation, the Congregation of the Mission, and the Daughters of Charity. The founder of the Congregation of the Mission was St. Vincent de Paul – the patron saint of organizations dedicated to works of mercy. The 17th-century Visitation sister St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who had visions of Jesus, pioneered devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the Soviet era, the convent and church of the Visitation Sisters were used as a prison and the Missionary monastery as a hospital. Today the Sisters of Divine Mercy live here and run a hospice for the dying. The chapel of the convent was installed in the former workshop of artist Eugenijus Kazimirovskis. In it, relics of St. Faustina and Bl. Michael Sopocko are venerated.
Gate of Dawn Chapel and St. Teresa’s Church
This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: Places of Veneration of Our Lady, The Route of John Paul II.
St. Faustina, who belonged to the order of Our Lady of Mercy, was very fond of the Gate of Dawn Chapel, which she often visited. While work was underway on the painting, St. Faustina would stop to pray at the Gate of Dawn on her way to meet with the artist at the Visitation convent.
Bl. M. Sopocko was also devoted to the Mother of God. As a child he would visit the Gate of Dawn with his parents, and later as a seminarian he often came to pray here. Having decided to become a priest, Bl. M. Sopocko moved to Vilnius to prepare for the necessary studies, but he lacked money to support himself. While praying before the Mother of Mercy image at the Gate of Dawn, he met Jadwiga Waltz who had set up a boarding house for boys. In exchange for giving Russian language lessons, he was able to live at the boarding house. In 1935, on the Sunday after Easter at the end of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption of the World, the image of Divine Mercy – decorated by St. Faustina the evening before with crowns of flowers – was hung in a window of Dawn Gate stairway gallery to illustrate a homily by Bl. M. Sopocko about Divine Mercy. In 1947, when leaving Vilnius and departing for Bialystok, Bl. Sopocko celebrated Holy Mass before the miraculous Gate of Dawn image.
The icon of Our Lady of Mercy was painted in the early 17th century on oak boards, and was based upon a painting by the Dutch artist Martin de Vos. This icon is a rare example of Madonna painted without the Child Jesus. It portrays the Blessed Virgin listening to the angel’s message, and also a Mother of Mercy, holding sinners in her heart’s embrace. In 1927 the icon was adorned with crowns blessed by Pope Pius XI, and was given the title of the Mother of Mercy. The many floral patterns in the decoration of the coverings allude to the sealed garden mentioned in the Song of Songs – the Virgin without sin. The sun, stars and half-moon are attributes of the Immaculate Conception, signifying an abundance of God’s grace.
The Gothic-style Gate of Dawn is the only surviving gate from the defensive wall that was built around Vilnius in the 16th century. The painting of the Mother of Mercy initially was installed externally, on the internal side of the gate, as a complement to a painting on the outer side titled “Savior of the World”. The Discalced Carmelites, who came to Vilnius in the 17th century, built a chapel in the defensive tower of the gate and moved the painting there as an object of popular devotion.
The Gate of Dawn Chapel is also included within the European Marian Network, which links twenty of the most significant shrines honoring Mary in Europe.
Near the Gate of Dawn Chapel there is the Church of St. Teresa. It is one the most notable Late Baroque shrines, constructed without towers, in Lithuania. It was completed and consecrated in 1654. The Church belonged to the Discalced Carmelites, whose monastery complex bordered the fortification walls of Vilnius, and stretched over three city blocks. Today St. Teresa’s is the last remaining Church built by the Carmelites in Vilnius. The frescoes and illusionary altars, portraying the spirituality of the Carmelite Order and the life and works of St. Teresa, were painted between 1760 and 1764 by a local artist, Motiejus Sluscianskis.
Monday–Sunday – 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Monday–Saturday – 9.30 a.m. (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Saturday – 10.00 a.m. (in Polish)
Sunday – 9.30 a.m. (in Lithuanian)
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian)
Monday–Saturday – 6 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 9 a.m.
Monday–Saturday – 5 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m.
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 10 a.m.
Minor indulgence feasts of the Mother of Mercy are celebrated on the 16th day of each month with Holy Mass in St. Teresa’s Church at 10 a.m. (in Polish) and 12 p.m. (noon) (in Lithuanian).
The great indulgence feast of the Mother of Mercy of the Gate of Dawn is celebrated for eight days, starting from the week on which falls the day of November 16.
The Church of St. Michael the Archangel
This Church is included as part of the following itinerary: Cathedral. Bell Tower. Treasury.
From 1934 to 1938, Bl. Fr. M. Sopocko was rector of St. Michael’s Church and chaplain of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. He lived in the building beside St. Michael’s that is opposite the Bernardine Church. Fr. M. Sopocko initially hung the image of Divine Mercy in a corridor of the Bernardine Sisters’ monastery by St. Michael’s Church. But Jesus in visions asked St. Faustina to arrange public veneration of the image. In 1937, with the permission of Vilnius Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski, the painting was hung on the right side of the main altar. Devotion to the image and praise of Divine Mercy began to spread among the faithful. When the war began and the Soviets occupied Vilnius, Bl. Fr. M. Sopocko in his apartment organized secret meetings of Catholic intellectual groups and of the Marian Sodality. Thanks to this activity, later on there would be candidates to join the new Congregation of the Sisters.
St. Michael the Archangel Church and the former Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Monastery form an impressive Renaissance-era ensemble. Its construction and decoration was supported by Leonas Sapiega, one of the most prominent noblemen in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th-17th centuries. It is the first sanctuary in Lithuania built as a mausoleum for a noble family. The monastery housed strictly cloistered Bernardine Sisters. The Church served not only as a house of prayer, but also as a mausoleum for the Sapiega family.
Five burial crypts remain beneath the Church’s floor. In some of them nuns are buried, in others lay people. Leonas Sapiega is buried in the family crypt with his sons Jonas Stanislovas and Kristupas, and other family members. Four early 17th-century burial monuments for members of the Sapiega family survive in the Church and are of great value. They show the power, wealth and subtle artistic taste of those who commissioned them.
In the Soviet era, the monastery and Church were closed. The buildings were left unused and abandoned for a time, and the Church’s 18th-century altarpieces and pulpit were demolished. Renovated after a fire in 1964, the Church was opened as a museum of architecture, while the monastery premises were adapted to serve as a student dormitory, apartments and industrial workshops. The Church and dilapidated monastery building were returned to the Vilnius Archdiocese in 1993. In 2009, restoration of the ensemble was completed and the Church Heritage Museum opened to visitors.
Tuesday–Saturday – 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Closing time is one hour earlier on the eve of national holidays.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bernardine of Siena (Bernardine) Church
This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: Places of Veneration of Our Lady, Franciscans in Vilnius.
From 1941, Bl. M. Sopocko offered Holy Mass at the Bernardine Church and provided assistance to its clerics. On March 3, 1942, while Father was offering Mass at the Church, Nazis had entered his lodgings, which were located across from the Church, with the intention of arresting him. Forewarned not to return to his rooms and the seminary, he left, with the help of the Ursuline Sisters, for Juodsiliai. Bl. M. Sopocko credits his successful escape to safety to Divine Mercy.
Bernardine friars built the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in the 16th century. It was one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Vilnius. Some of the best-known craftsmen and architects of the time contributed to its construction. The Church was burned down by the Cossacks in 1655 and later rebuilt. After the uprising of 1863, the monastery was closed and used as a barracks, while the Church became an ordinary parish. Under Soviet rule, the Church was closed and assigned to the Art Institute. It was returned to the Franciscan friars in 1994.
The layout of the Church is typical of sanctuaries of the Bernardine Order: there is a bright and spacious triple nave for the laity, and a long presbytery with a choir for the friars who would gather here to chant the Liturgy of the Hours or participate in services. A pointed triumphal arch marks the juncture of these two areas of the Church from above. Below, until the 18th century, they were separated by an openwork metal lattice (part of which now forms the gate to the Chapel of St. Florian or the Three Kings), and later by the main altar. Beautiful cross-ribbed, star-ribbed and crystal vaults remain in the lateral naves of the Church – a characteristic Gothic image of the vault of heaven.
In the churchyard is the Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) Chapel, which survives from a Way of the Cross that was here in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Holy Stairs installed in the Chapel are a copy of those which, according to legend, are from the palace of Pontius Pilate, and were taken by St. Helen to Rome from Jerusalem. The Chapel, construction of which in 1617 was paid for by the Mitkevicius noble family, was rebuilt in 1752.
Monday – 9 a.m.–6 p.m
Tuesday – 7.30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Wednesday–Friday – 7.30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Saturday – 8.30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday – 8.30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Monday – 12.00 p.m. (noon)
Tuesday – 7.30 a.m.
Wednesday–Friday – 7.30 a.m., 6 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m., 6 p.m.
Sunday – 10.30 a.m., 1 p.m. (with translation to sign language), 5 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m.
Church of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist and Apostle
This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: Places of Veneration of Our Lady, Jesuits in Vilnius
Bl. M. Sopocko worked in the Theology Faculty of Vilnius University from 1927 to 1945. For a time, while the Church of St. Ignatius was in reconstruction, he celebrated Mass here for the military, and on returning from Juodsiliai, where he hid from the threat of detention by the Germans, he took up residence in the Church’s rectory. During the time of Soviet rule, he organized classes on the catechism for lay people in the sacristy so that they could clandestinely teach the truths of the faith. He also evangelized Russians who were arriving in Vilnius with the Soviet administrative apparatus. Despite the risk of the authorities taking repressive measures against him, he promoted popular devotion to the Divine Mercy. In 1946, Vilnius Archbishop Mecislovas Reinys, at the request of Bl. M. Sopocko, gave permission for the first celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy on the Sunday after Easter at the Church of the Sts. Johns.
The start of construction of the Church is linked with Lithuania’s Christianization. It was Lithuanian Grand Duke and Polish King Jogaila who in 1386 began work on the building, which King Alexander Vytautas completed in 1426. In 1571 the Church was entrusted to the Jesuit College which is considered the origin of Vilnius University. Historical circumstances led to more than one change in the function of the Church, though it has always been surrounded by the academic community. The Church was closed in 1948 and during the Soviet era housed a museum of science. It was re-consecrated in 1991, and is again tended by the Jesuits.
Founded in 1579, Vilnius University is one of Central and Eastern Europe’s oldest and best-known schools of higher education. It has significantly influenced scientific and cultural life not only in Lithuania, but also in neighboring countries. The Vilnius University ensemble is a unique collection of buildings that took shape in the 16th-19th centuries and reflects the main architectural styles that have prevailed in Lithuania: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. The ensemble is known for its 13 small courtyards, the tallest bell tower in the City and one of Europe’s very first astronomical observatories.
Tuesday–Thursday – 6 p.m. (in a chapel)
Friday – 6 p.m. (for students)
Sunday – 11 a.m., 1 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m.
St. Ignatius Church
This Church is included as part of the following itinerary: Jesuits in Vilnius
In 1919, Bl. Michael Sopocko was appointed chaplain of the army. Since the armed forces in Vilnius did not have their own church, he decided to rebuild the Church of St. Ignatius for the pastoral care of the military – a purpose it served from 1929 to 1948, also spiritually tending to civilians. As reconstruction came to an end, Bl. Fr. M. Sopocko withdrew from his military pastoral responsibilities on account of his work at the seminary and the university. He did, however, again serve at St. Ignatius Church for several months in 1939, when Archbishop Jalbrzykowski named him rector of the Church in place of army chaplains who were leaving for the front.
St. Ignatius Church was built together with a Jesuit convent and novitiate in the mid-17th century in Baroque style. After uprisings in 1831 and 1863, the tsarist army set up barracks, stables and a casino for officers in the convent and Church – the building thus lost its sacred status. In the interwar years, the Church was rebuilt on the initiative on Bl. Sopocko for the pastoral care of the army. A film studio warehouse and cinema were set up in it during the Soviet years, and from 1991 it functioned as a picture gallery. Since 2004 it has been the primary Church of Lithuania’s military ordinariate.
A painting from 1757 at the central altar, by the artist S. Cechavicius, portrays the vision experienced by St. Ignatius while he traveled to Rome with two friends. In the vision, God indicated that he would find favor in Rome and that he would place St. Ignatius beside Christ. On arriving in Rome, Pope Paul III received them with great joy and entrusted the young priests with teaching Holy Scripture and preaching. In Rome St. Ignatius’s idea of founding the Jesuits came to maturity.
Monday–Friday – 7.30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday – 4 p.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Monday–Saturday – 5.15 p.m.
Sunday – 10.30 a.m.
Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit
This Church is included as part of the following itinerary: Dominicans in Vilnius
In 1951, the image of Divine Mercy was taken from St. Michael’s Church, which was closed, and entrusted to the pastor of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius. It was not displayed for public veneration. In 1956, the parish priest of Naujoji Ruda, who knew the painting’s origins, took it to the church in Naujoji Ruda, not far from Grodno in Belarus. After that church was closed, several priests arranged in 1986 for the image to be secretly returned to the Church of the Holy Spirit. Here it was venerated until 2005 when the restored nearby Church of the Holy Trinity was given the title Shrine of Divine Mercy, and the image was transferred there.
It is thought that the first Gothic church stood in this place already in the 14th century, but was brought down by the crusaders. The Grand Duke Vytautas built the Church of the Holy Spirit in 1408. In the 16th century, the Church was entrusted to the Dominicans, the oldest religious order in Lithuania, on the initiative of Aleksandras Jogailaitis, the Lithuanian Grand Duke and King of Poland. In the 17th century, after several fires, the Church was rebuilt and today is considered to be of Late Baroque style.
Decorated in the Rococo style, this is considered one of Lithuania’s most exquisite church interiors. The Church is also famous for its nearly original 18th-century organ, 16 altars and crypts where for centuries city residents were interred along with victims of the plague and other epidemics, and soldiers of Napoleon’s army.
Monday–Saturday – 3 p.m., 6 p.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m., 9 a.m. (for children), 10.30 a.m.,
12 p.m. (for youth), 1.30 p.m., 6 p.m.
The Shrine of Divine Mercy
This object is included as part of the following itinerary: The Route of John Paul II.
The original image of Divine Mercy, which was painted in Vilnius, is presently venerated at the Shrine of Divine Mercy. The picture was painted in 1935 by Eugene Kazimirowski and was based upon St. Faustina’s visions, which she received in Vilnius. In His appearances to a sister Faustina Jesus said: “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on Earth, and especially at the hour of death. I will defend it as My own honor” (Diary 48).
During his visit to Lithuania St. John Paul II prayed by this image, which at that time was venerated at the Church of the Holy Spirit. The Pope urged the faithful to become true children of the Heavenly Father, dedicated disciples of Jesus, and obedient instruments of the Holy Spirit. St. John Paul II said that “Faustina was such an instrument of God. She trusted the words of the Savior and fulfilled His request to have His image painted, which would bring solace and peace to all.”
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Holy Trinity Church stood on the current site of the Shrine of Divine Mercy. The Church was reconstructed in the 18th century and belonged to Vilnius University. In 1821 the tsarist government converted the Shrine into the Orthodox Church of the Apparition. In 1920 the Shine was reclaimed by the Catholics. During the years of 1946-1947, St. Faustina’s confessor Blessed Fr. M. Sopocko was the pastor at this Church. After World War II the Soviet regime closed the Church. Cardinal Audrys Juozas Backis founded the Shrine of Divine Mercy with his decree of March 8, 2004. The image of Divine Mercy was relocated to the Shrine’s central altar.
Monday–Saturday – 10 a.m., 12 p.m. (noon), 8 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m., 12 p.m. (noon), 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
Monday–Sunday – 4 p.m.
On the first Friday of every month at 6 p.m.
The Solemnity of Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.
Divine Mercy Week is celebrated from the second day of Easter until the Solemnity of Divine Mercy.
A minor feast of the Shrine is celebrated every Friday.
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Vladislaus
This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: Places of Veneration of Our Lady, The Route of John Paul II, Vilnius Saints, Cathedral. Bell Tower. Treasury.
It is in Vilnius Cathedral that Bl. M. Sopocko received the sacrament of Confirmation and on June 15, 1914, was ordained a priest. In 1940, in an atmosphere of war, his Lenten homilies on the Passion of Jesus became renowned in Vilnius. With the outbreak of the Second World War, his homilies stressed the message of Divine Mercy.
St. John Paul II started his historic visit to Lithuania with a prayer at the Vilnius Cathedral Basilica, which he called “the beating heart of the Lithuanian nation”. Vilnius Cathedral is one of the oldest Lithuanian churches. It was mentioned for the first time in recorded history in 1387, the same year as the Christianization of Lithuania. The Cathedral received the title of St. Vladislaus because it was the baptismal name of Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. The main altar features a painting portraying the death of St. Stanislaus, the patron of Vilnius Cathedral and the Bishop of Krakow. St. Stanislaus chastised the Polish King Boleslaw II the Bold for his cruelty and injustice, and eventually, he excommunicated the King. In retaliation, the King murdered St. Stanislaus during a Holy Mass. The painting was done by Pranciskus Smuglevicius, a famous Lithuanian artist.
Throughout 600 years of its existence, Vilnius Cathedral was rebuilt several times, until it acquired its current Neoclassical style at the beginning of the 19th century (architect Laurynas Gucevicius). The Cathedral was closed (1949-1988) during the Soviet occupation, and for a long time, it housed the Vilnius Art Gallery. Only in 1988, was the Cathedral returned to the faithful and then solemnly re-consecrated. The relics of St. Casimir, the patron of Lithuania and youth, were also returned to the Cathedral, and are now venerated in the magnificent Chapel of St. Casimir. The Gostautai Chapel in the right nave of the Cathedral features the painting of Sapiega Madonna. In 1750 the pope crowned this painting for numerous graces granted to the faithful. There are 11 chapels in the Cathedral. In addition to the previously-mentioned Chapels of St. Casimir and Gostautai, the pilgrims can also pray at the Holy Eucharist and Exiles Chapels, located in the right nave and St. Vladislaus and Valaviciai Chapels in the left nave.
Distinguished noblemen, rulers, bishops, and other clergymen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are buried in the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral. The King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Aleksandras Jogailaitis, Queen Barbora Radvilaite, Queen Elzbieta Habsburgaite, and the heart of the ruler Vladislovas IV Vasa are buried in the royal mausoleum. In 1985 the treasury of the Cathedral was discovered. It consists of Lithuanian goldsmith masterpieces, which were hastily hidden in a niche between Gostautai and Exiles Chapels in the fall of 1939 after World War II began. Today the treasury of Vilnius Cathedral is displayed at the Church Heritage Museum.
Monday–Sunday – 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
Excursions are not available during the Holy Mass
Monday–Saturday – 8 a.m., 5.30 p.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11.15 a.m., 12.30 p.m., 5.30 p.m.
Sunday – 6.30 p.m.
Church Heritage Museum
+370 600 12080
The Feast of St. Casimir – March 4
St. George’s Church
St. George’s Church and former Carmelite monastery from the late 18th century housed a seminary, which in the 1920s was combined with the Faculty of Theology at Vilnius University (known at the time as Stefan Batory University). Bl. M. Sopocko not only studied at this seminary but during most of his priestly life served here as a professor and spiritual director for the seminarians. He regarded his time spent at the seminary among the most fruitful years of his life. His attitude when working with students was that sincere charity is the most effective way to educate. And he remained in the memories of priests he helped form as a man of God with a deep interior life, who embodied the idea of a true spiritual father.
Built-in the 16th century in the Gothic style, the Church of St. George was part of the first Carmelite monastery of the Old Rule in Lithuania. The Church burned down in the 18th century and was rebuilt in late Baroque style. At the end of the 18th century, the Carmelites gave the buildings to the Vilnius seminary for priests, which functioned until the end of World War II. Nearly the entire architectural ensemble survives today, comprising the Church, a bell-tower gate, the monastery building, and auxiliary buildings. Its interior contains extremely rare frescos depicting the life and sufferings of St. George.
Books collected after World War II, by residents of Vilnius and other places, from cultural organizations that had been closed, homes of people who were exiled, and the Jewish ghetto, were brought to this Church, where some 3 million of them were found. Recently all books were moved to the Martynas Mazvydas National Library.
Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Tabariskes
The newly ordained Fr. M. Sopocko was named assistant pastor at St. Michael the Archangel parish in the town of Tabariskes, where he served from 1914 to 1918. He taught religion to young people and children and created the parish choir and library. He also made visits to the nearby villages of Medininkai and Anzadava, where he established new chapels. The town’s main street is named for Bl. M. Sopocko.
The first church in this town is thought to have been built in the early 16th century by Vaitiekus Taboras, after whom the locality is named. But little is known about the fate of that church. The founder of the new Church and monastery was Mykolas Vazinskis, a clerk of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a favorite of King Augustus III. The Church, named for its founder’s patron St. Michael the Archangel, was intended from the start to be a family mausoleum, and the Carmelites of the Old Rule residing here were to constantly pray for their benefactors. At the start of the 19th century, the Carmelites were also tasked with caring for the parish. They were the true soul of the parish until the monastery was closed. They ran a school, a hospital, and a shelter for the poor. The Church continued functioning after the monastery was eliminated in 1832.
The only thing that makes this traditional Church building stand out is the undulating gable of its facade, which seeks to imitate the plasticity of stone Baroque structures. But the Church’s interior features abundant carved wooden Baroque altars, as well as brightly colored wood and metal reliquaries of varied shapes and sizes with relics of diverse martyrs and saints. This reflects the deep faith of both ordinary people and nobility during the Baroque era in the intercession and communion of the saints. Old vestments have survived, along with liturgical vessels and a bell that was cast in Vilnius at the start of the 19th century. The altarpieces contain several works of great value. One of the most beautiful paintings is of Christ with a reed.
Church of Blessed Michael Sopocko
From 1924 to 1946, the town of Juodsiliai was home to a monastery of the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. The Ursuline Sisters sheltered Bl. M. Sopocko in Juodsiliai from 1942 to 1944, while he was in hiding to avoid arrest by the Nazis. He lived in the so-called “Providence” building (Mykolo Sopockos St. 16) with false documents issued in the name of Vaclovas Rodzievic. For Bl. M. Sopocko, it was a period of prayer, reflection, and academic work. To avoid drawing attention to himself, he took up work as a carpenter, and residents of Juodsiliai for some time after remembered him as a good carpenter.
The Ursuline Sisters initiated the construction of a church in Juodsiliai in 1936, but work stopped due to World War II, and later a hospital was set up in that place. The current Church was built in 2007, in a part of the hospital complex that had burned down. The Church was consecrated and named for Bl. M. Sopocko in 2016.
At Juodsiliai the Ursuline Sisters also oversaw a children’s shelter and had a farm of significant size, a farming school, a medical dispensary, a dairy, and a bakery with a store. The nuns worked in a secondary school. Between 1924 and 1939, the founder of the congregation, St. Ursula Ledochowska, visited Juodsiliai several times. After World War II, the sisters withdrew to Poland. Their life and works in Juodsiliai are memorialized by the sisters’ cemetery and by a high school in the town that is named in honor of St. Ursula Ledochowska.
Wednesday, Friday – 5 p.m.
Sunday – 12 p.m. (noon)
Wednesday, Friday – 6 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m.