Saint James Way in Archdiocese of Vilnius

4 Sites

35 Kilometers

3 Hours

On June 3, 2016, Lithuania was accepted into the European Routes of St. James Federation. There are five Routes of St. James itineraries in Lithuania. Four of them connect with international routes, traversing through Poland and other European states, and eventually merging with the Santiago De Compostela Pilgrim Routes of Spain. The inner route of Lithuania links eleven St. James churches and other important shrines. Sts. Apostles Phillip and James Church of Vilnius, near the Dominican Monastery, is one of those churches.

The Northern part of the Way of Saint James passing through Lithuania, unlike the French, Spanish, or the Portuguese ways, is only indirectly associated with the apostle St. James. Apostle James did not visit our lands, but there are many churches named after him and devotion to St. James remains popular. The pilgrim and cultural Saint James Way connects European countries and highlights our common values and traditions, and our shared Christian history of Europe.

Saint James Route in Lithuania is created and coordinated by the Association of Friends of Saint James Route and The Way of Saint James Association of Municipalities.

ROUTE’S SITES

Descriptions, photos and details

Church of Sts. Philip and Jacob, the Apostles, and the Dominican Monastery

This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: Places of Marian Devotion, The Route of St. Jacob, Dominicans in Vilnius.

Constructed of wood, the Church of Sts. Philip and Jacob, the Apostles, and the Dominican monastery were built in the suburb of Lukiskes in 1642. Among the responsibilities of the Dominican monks were to provide free burial and attend to the spiritual needs of the poor. Prior to the arrival of the Dominicans, the poor had been buried in the city cemetery, which had been located on this site. The wooden Church was burned down during the wars with Moscow. In the 13th century the Church was reconstructed using masonry materials and remains almost unchanged to this day. During the Soviet occupation, the Church was used as a warehouse for fruit and vegetables, then a storage facility for the Opera and Ballet Theater. A hospital operated in the former monastery until 2004. 

The image of the Mother of God of Lukiskes in this Church became renowned as miraculous at the end of the 17th century. This icon was brought back to Lithuania from wars with Russia by Motiejus Korvinas Gosievskis, artillery general of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Soon after, the faithful started experiencing miracles through the intercession of Our Lady of Lukiskes, which were, subsequently, recorded in the book “The Mystic Fountain”, published in 1737.

During the Soviet years it was thought that the miraculous icon was lost, but it was later discovered at St. Raphael Church, located across the river. After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, Sts. Philip and Jacob Church and the image of Our Lady of Lukiskes were returned to the Dominicans. The Dominican general vicarage headquarters for Belarus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were established here. In 2015, the newly-restored Church carillon – a unique 61 bell instrument – rang for the first time. This carillon is the largest in the Baltics.

Opening times:
Mon.–Sat.– 10.30–19.00
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian):
Mon.–Sat.– 12.00, 18.00

Sun – 9.00, 11.00, 18.00

Carillion bells can be heard daily:
12.57 – mini concert
18.00 – carillion bells before the Holy Mass
19.30 – mini concert
+370 5 212 46 11

Vilnius Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislaus (LT, PL, RU, EN, IT)

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 period of 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 Ezbieta 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 fall of 1939, after World War II began. Today the treasury of Vilnius Cathedral is displayed at the Church Heritage Museum.

Opening times:
Mon. – Sun. – 7.00–19.00
Excursions are not available during the Holy Mass.
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian):
Sun. – 8.00, 9.00, 10.00, 11.15, 12.30, 17.30
Mon. – Sat. – 8.00, 18.30 (in the chapel of St. Casimir), 17.30 (next to the high altar)
Holy Mass (in Latin):
Sat. – 18.30
Information about visiting the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral:
Church Heritage Museum
+370 600 12080
katedrospozemiai@bpmuziejus.lt
www.bpmuziejus.lt
Feast days – Indulgences
The Feast of St. Casimir –  March 4

The Gate of Dawn Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Theresa’s Church

The Gothic-style Gate of Dawn is the only surviving remnant of the Vilnius defensive wall, which was built in the 16th century. The image of Our Lady of Mercy was initially hung outdoors, affixed to the inner side of the Gate, as a complement to the image of the “Redeemer of the World”, which was hanging on the outside of the Gate. 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.  Since then, St. Teresa’s Church has been closely linked to the image of Our Lady of Mercy of the Gate of Dawn. Initially, the chapel was accessible only from the garden of the monastery, with lay people praying on the outside. A gallery for pilgrims was built in the late 18th century, and in the middle of the 19th century the chapel became accessible to all the faithful. The Gate of Dawn Chapel is considered the most significant legacy of the Carmelites of Vilnius.

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. Theresa. 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. Theresa’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. Theresa, were painted between 1760 and 1764 by a local artist, Motiejus Sluscianskis. In the main altar there is a painting depicting the ecstasy of St. Theresa, as the angel pierced her heart with a spear representing the love of God.

During his visit to Lithuania Pope John Paul II said a Rosary at the Gate of Dawn Chapel. In one of his speeches he recalled, that immediately after being elected Pope, he rushed to the Lithuanian Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy in the Vatican Basilica grottoes, to pray. The Gate of Dawn Chapel is one of the oldest and most important places of pilgrimage in Lithuania. In the late 18th century this Shrine became a symbol of struggle for independence and statehood for Lithuanians and Poles. The residents of Vilnius honored Mary of the Gate of Dawn as their patron. According to Saint John Paul II, “This Gate has become a special place of meeting with the Mother of Church and Christ, and a place of unity for the faithful of the entire region. Christians of Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and other countries gather here like brothers and sisters to share their faith, hope and love in the presence of the Virgin Mary.”

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.

Opening times:
Mon.–Sun. – 6.00–19.00
Holy Mass in the chapel:
Mon.–Sun. – 9.30 (in Lithuanian)
Mon.–Sun. – 10.00 (in Polish)
Mon.–Sun. – 9.00 (in Lithuanian)
Church of St. Theresa
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian):
Sun. – 11.00, 18.30
Mon. – Sun. – 18.30
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 9.00
Holy Mass (in Polish):
Sun. – 9.00, 13.00, 17.30
Mon.–Sun. – 17.30
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 10.00
Holy Mass (in Latin):
Mon.–Sun. – 7.30
Priests hear confessions before all Masses, on Sundays and during Mass.
Feast days – Indulgences
Minor indulgence feasts of the Mother of Mercy are celebrated on the 16 th day of each month with Holy Mass in St. Teresa’s Church at 10:00 (in Lithuanian) and 12:00 (in Polish).
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 November 16.

Trakai Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (LT, PL, RU)

This Church is included as part of the following itinerary: The Route of Saint John Paul IIPlaces of Marian Devotion, The Route of St. Jacob.

St. John Paul II possessed a special devotion to the Mother of God. As his apostolic motto he chose “Totus Tuus” (“Totally Thine”), a proclamation of love and faithfulness to the Holy Virgin Mary. Trakai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a testament to the deep Lithuanian tradition of devotion to Mary. The altar is adorned by the image of the Mother of God – Patron of Lithuania, and is renowned for its special graces. It was the first image of Mary in Lithuania to be crowned by the pope, and it received the title of the Intercessor of the Afflicted on September 4, 1718.

The Church was built in 1409 due to the initiative of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas, and was granted the title of the Visitation of Elizabeth by the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Christian tradition this event is perceived as an encounter between the old and the new covenant. The interior Church walls, dated to the 15th century, are adorned with Byzantine-style painting, with the first fragments of it discovered in 2006. The frescoes depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. This Church has an enduring reverence for the Rosary. For that reason the altar of the Virgin Mary in the Church’s northeast corner displays the 17th century painting of “Our Lady of the Rosary with St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena”.  This Church has never been closed, given to another religious denomination or used for other purposes. Consequently, Trakai Church is an exceptional monument to faith and Lithuanian culture, representing an ecclesiastical and artistic legacy of six centuries.

The Church features a Byzantine style painting depicting the Mother of God Hodegetria (from Greek: “She who shows the Way”). In it, Child Jesus is wearing a purple tunic and is seated on Mary’s left knee. He’s holding a book in His left hand, while reaching His right hand towards three roses held by His Mother, which represent three Mysteries of the Rosary. The Mother of God painting of Trakai is closely associated with the Grand Duke Vytautas. The 17th century inscription on the back of the painting provides that it was given to Vytautas as a baptismal gift by the Byzantine Emperor Emanuel II Paleologos. Over the years it had served as a reminder of the majestic rule of Vytautas. This image of Mary strengthened the nation, and for that reason it became a destination for prayer to supreme state rulers, nobles and people from all over the region.

Opening times:
Mon.–Sun. – 9.00–19.00

Holy Mass (in Lithuanian):
Mon.–Sat. – 18.00
Sun. – 12.00
Holy Mass (in Polish):
Mon.–Sat. – 17.00
Sun.– 12.00
Holy Mass (in Latin):
On the last Saturday of every month at 17.00
The Akathist Hymn in honor of the Mother of God is sung on the first Sunday of every month at 11:20 (in Lithuanian).
Feast days – Indulgences
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 15 th of August
The Birth of Our Lady (Trakinės) – from 2nd –till 8 th of September