Saint John Paul II is the first pope to visit Lithuania. His visit in 1993 provided moral and diplomatic support and strengthened the unity and the spirit of Lithuania, which had recently regained its independence. To honor the Holy Father, the primary shrines of Lithuania were linked; creating a pilgrimage route named after John Paul II. This route encompasses the most significant Lithuanian sacred locations and also introduces visitors to Lithuania’s history of religion, sacred art, architecture and traditions. Five Vilnius Archdiocese shrines are included in this route: Vilnius Cathedral; The Shrine of Divine Mercy; The Gate of Dawn Chapel and St. Theresa Church; The Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross; and The Church of Trakai.
This pilgrim route takes visitors through various regions of Lithuania. Pilgrims are encouraged to not only visit the sacred sites, but to also explore the surrounding regions and cities, which offer many other attractions. We recommend allowing seven days to complete this pilgrimage. Here is one of our suggested itineraries: Day 1 – City of Vilnius; Day 2 – Trakai-Pivasiunai-Marijampole; Day 3 – Pazaislis and the City of Kaunas; Day 4 – Klaipeda and the Baltic coast; Day 5 – Zemaiciu Kalvarija-the Hill of Crosses-the City of Siauliai; Day 6 – Tytuvenai-Siluva-Krekenava; Day 7 – City of Rokiskis and the region of Aukstaitija.
The official Pilgrim Route of John Paul II website: www.piligrimukelias.lt. This website provides detailed descriptions of all shrines, as well as all essential information to travel this route.
Descriptions, photos and details
THE CHRISTIANIZATION OF LITHUANIA
Vilnius Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislaus and St. Casimir’s Chapel (Vilniaus šv. vysk. Stanislovo ir šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra Bazilika ir šv. Kazimiero koplyčia)
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.
For more information about Vilnius Cathedral and the Route of St. John Paul II click, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 7.00 – 19.00
Excursions are not available during the Holy Mass.
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)
Sat. – 18.30
+370 600 12080
The Feast of St. Casimir – March 4
THE PRIMARY MARIAN SHRINE OF LITHUANIA
The Gate of Dawn Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Theresa’s Church (Aušros Vartų Gailestingumo Motinos koplyčia ir šv. Teresės bažnyčia)
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.
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.
For more information about the Gate of Dawn Chapel and the Church of St. Theresa on the Pilgrim Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 6.00 – 19.00
Mon. – Sun. – 9.30 (in Lithuanian)
Mon. – Sun. – 10.00 (in Polish)
Mon. – Sun. – 9.00 (in Lithuanian)
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian):
Sun. – 11.00, 18.30
Mon. – Sun. – 18.30
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 9.00
Sun. – 9.00, 13.00, 17.30
Mon. – Sun. – 17.30
On the first Friday and Saturday of every month – 10.00
Mon. – Sun. – 7.30
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.
VILNIUS – THE CITY OF MERCY
The Shrine of Divine Mercy (Dievo Gailestingumo šventovė)
This Church is included as part of the following itineraries: The Route of Divine Mercy
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 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.
For more information about the Shrine of Divine Mercy on the Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Sun. – 12.00, 18.00, 20.00
Mon. – Sat. – 12.00, 20.00
Sun. – 16.00
Mon. – Sat. – 16.00
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.
JERUSALEM IN VILNIUS
The Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross (Šv. Kryžiaus Atradimo bažnyčia ir Vilniaus Kalvarijų Kryžiaus kelias)
Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross is a sacred architectural ensemble, recognized as one of the largest European Ways of the Cross. It consists of the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and 35 Stations of the Cross. The Church is the primary location for Pentecost celebrations in the Archdiocese of Vilnius.
The Calvary Way of the Cross was constructed and dedicated in 1669 as a sign of gratitude to God for the victory against the tsarist Russian army. Dominicans, with the support of noblemen and prominent religious figures, built the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and 20 new chapels here in 1772. Up until the 20th century this architectural ensemble didn’t change much, though some damage was done by the army of Napoleon. Vilnius Calvary suffered the most destruction during the Soviet era, when one night in 1962 most of the Stations of the Cross were blown up. Their reconstruction began when Lithuania regained its independence in 1990.
The overall length of the Way of the Cross and the distances between Stations correspond to the distances and to the topography of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. For that reason, Vilnius Calvary is called “The City of Jerusalem”. The Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross is located at both the geographical and ideological center of Vilnius Calvary. The Church, built on a high hill in Calvary, topographically corresponds to the Golgotha Hill. The main altar, also known as the Crucified Jesus altar, is the most important Station of the Cross, dedicated to the remembrance of our Savior’s death. The sculpture of the Crucified Jesus is considered miraculous by the faithful. At the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows a relic of the Holy Cross is displayed under glass. Church walls and vaulted ceilings are decorated with impressive frescoes, dating to the late 18th century.
For more information about the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross and Vilnius Calvary Way of the Cross on the Pilgrim Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Sun. – 10.30 (for children), 12.00, 16.00 (for youth)
Mon. – Sat. – 7.00, 19.00
Veneration of the relic of the Holy Cross (True Cross) – the 14 th of each month
For faithful walking the Way of Cross indulgence can be obtained from the first Sunday of May till the 14 th of September.
THE MOTHER OF GOD – PATRON OF LITHUANIA
Trakai Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Trakų Švč. Mergelės Marijos Apsilankymo bažnyčia)
This Church is included as part of the following itinerary: Places of Veneration of Our Lady.
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.
For more information about the Church of Trakai on the Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 9.00 – 19.00
Mon. – Sat. – 18.00
Sun. – 12.00
Mon. – Sat. – 17.00
Sun. – 12.00
on the last Saturday of every month at 17.00
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – August 15
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Trakinės) – September 2-8
THE TRADITION OF THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION (ZOLINE)
Pivasiunai Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Pivašiūnų Švč. Mergelės Marijos Ėmimo į dangų bažnyčia)
Pivasiunai Church is known for a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1988 Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius adorned the famous image of Our Lady of Pivasiunai with crowns blessed by Pope John Paul II, and bestowed it with the title of “Comfort of the Afflicted”. The Church of Pivasiunai is one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations in Lithuania. It hosts the annual eight day Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is also known as the Indulgence Feast of Zoline.
The main altar features a venerated image of the Mother of God and Child, painted on beech boards in the mid-17th century by an unknown Lithuanian artist. It is believed that this painting was ordered by Jonas Klockis, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament and founder of the first Pivasiunai Church. The picture portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary, robed with a mantle, holding a Child on her lap with the right hand, and holding a scepter in her left hand.
The current Pivasiunai Church was built in 1825 as a result of the efforts of Benedictine monk Celestinas Soraka. It is the third Church built on the same site. Pivasiunai Church is a monument to Lithuanian wooden sacred classical architecture, with its design resembling that of Vilnius Cathedral. The altar located in the left chapel contains a wooden sculpture of the Crucified Christ by the famous sculptor Kazimieras Jelinskis. An altar dedicated to one of the patrons of the Church, Saint John the Baptist, is located in the chapel on the right. An altar devoted to another of the Church’s patrons, Saint Benedict, is located in the left nave, reminding us of the Benedictines role as builders and caretakers of this Church.
For more information about Pivasiunai Church on the Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Before Mass or by agreement in advance (+370 699 12 696)
Mon. – Fri. – 9.00, 17.00 (October), 19.00 (May and June)
Sat. – 10.00
Sun. – 10.00, 12.00 (during Advent 9.00 ir 12.00)
On 15 th of each month – 10.00 ir 12.00
Our Lady of Consolation – the 15 th of each month
Saint John the Babtist – June 24
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – August 15 (continues 8 days till 22 nd of August)
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8 (transferred to the following Sunday)
HEADQUARTERS OF MARIAN FATHERS AND THE RESTING PLACE OF THE BLESSED JURGIS MATULAITIS
Marijampole Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel (Marijampolės šv. Arkangelo Mykolo bazilika)
In 1987 Jurgis Matulaitis, the Archbishop of Vilnius (1871-1927), was beatified by Pope John Paul II. His remains are buried in the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, in Marijampole. The Archbishop contributed greatly to the improvement of the relations between Lithuania and the Holy See, to the creation of the Lithuanian Ecclesiastical Province and to the drafting of a concordat. Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis continues to attract national and international pilgrims. Particularly large crowds assemble in Marijampole every July for the Annual Blessed Matulaitis Indulgence Feast. At the Marijampole Basilica the faithful also venerate an old painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child Jesus. Until 1772 this image, also known as “Our Lady of Vaisbuniskis”, adorned the main altar in the old wooden church.
Additionally, a chapel dedicated to Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis was built in the nearby village of Lugine, which is his birthplace. The faithful organize pilgrimages to Lugine, where spiritual formation activities are held for youth.
The City of Marijampole is closely related to the Order of Marian Fathers. In fact, in the mid-17th century the City was named after one of the Order’s patrons, the Blessed Virgin Mary (in Lithuanian, “Mary” is “Marija”). The current Neo-Baroque masonry Church was built under the supervision of the Marian Fathers. It was consecrated in 1824, and was bestowed the title of St. Michael the Archangel, another patron of the Order. Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis is a very prominent figure in the history of the Marian Order, because during the early 20th century he reestablished the Order, which had been nearly eradicated by the tsarist authorities. Thus, in Marijampole during the period between the two World Wars, the Marian Fathers had a monastery, a school, a printing house, one of the largest libraries in Lithuania, and engaged in gardening and various other trades.
Following the destruction of Vilkaviskis Cathedral by the Soviets after World War II, Marijampole Church of St. Michael the Archangel served as a pro-cathedral between 1944 and 1949 and again between 1989 and 1998. Because of its historical significance, in 1992 this Church was granted the title of minor basilica.
For more information about Marijampole Basilica on the Route of Saint John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 7.00 – 19.00
Mon. – Sat. – 7.30, 8.00, 9.00, 18.00
Sun. – 8.00, 9.30, 11.00, 12.00. 18.00
Holy Mass at the chapel of Bl. Jurgis Matulaitis at 12.00 p.m. on the 12 th of each month.
Bl. Jurgis Matulaitis – January 27
Indulgence feast of Bl. Jurgis Matulaitis (beatification day) – July 12 (celebrated for eight days, starting from the week on which falls the day July 12)
Saint Anthony of Padua – June 13
Saint Michael the Archangel – September 29
ONE OF THE OLDEST AND LARGEST SHRINES OF LITHUANIA
Kaunas Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Cathedral Basilica (Kauno šv. Apaštalų Petro ir Povilo arkikatedra bazilika)
St. John Paul II visited the Cathedral Basilica of Kaunas to pray prior to meeting with Lithuanian youth. In 2013 the faithful celebrated the 600-year anniversary of the Cathedral Basilica. The Archbishop of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz, presented a relic of St. John Paul II to the Cathedral as a gift, and encouraged the faithful to entrust all the cares of the Church and the Lithuanian nation to Blessed John Paul II’s intercession. The relic is venerated at one of the side altars, which also features an image of St. John Paul II. The image was blessed in the spring of 2014, when Pope John Paul II was declared a saint.
Two significant paintings known for their special graces are displayed in this Cathedral: Our Lady of Sorrows, painted at the end of the 16th century, is located at the altar on the right, and Our Lady of Grace, painted in the 17th century, is located at the altar by the left pillar.
Kaunas Cathedral Basilica is one of the oldest and largest Shrines in Lithuania. The current Cathedral was preceded by the Parish Church of Kaunas, which was first mentioned in historical records in 1413. It is believed that Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, funded construction of the Church. It was granted the status of the cathedral in 1895, and later was honored with the title of minor basilica in 1921. In 1926, when Pope Pius XI established a new Ecclesiastical Province of Lithuania with the Kaunas Metropolitan Archdiocese as its center, the Cathedral was granted the title of basilica. It is the only Church of basilica dimensions in Lithuania containing both Gothic and Renaissance architectural characteristics. The current interior of the Basilica, which is dated to the second half of the 18th century, is one of the last Lithuanian Late Baroque ensembles. The right nave features an authentic, late 17th century altar of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Famous Lithuanian clergymen, such as Bishops Motiejus Valancius, Mecislovas Leonardas Paliulionis, Gasparas Felicijonas Cirtautas; Archbishops Pranciskus Karevicius and Jonas Skvireckas; an Advisor to the Apostolic Nunciature Msgr. Luigi Faidutti; Prelate Jonas Maciulis-Maironis, Prelate Adomas Jakstas-Dambrauskas and Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius, are buried at Kaunas Cathedral Basilica’s crypts, chapel and churchyard.
For more information about Kaunas Cathedral Basilica on the Route of Saint John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 7.00 – 19.00
Mon. – Sat. – 7.00, 8.00, 9.00 and 18.00
Sun. – 8.00, 9.00, 10.30, 12.00, 13.30 (except 1st of June – 15th of September) and 18.00
August 2 and November 2
The Chair of St. Peter – February 22 d (transferred to the closest Sunday)
Our Lady of Sorrows – Friday before Palm Sunday
Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles – 29 of June
Consecration of Basilica of Lateran – November 9
A MONUMENT TO LITHUANIA’S INDEPENDENCE
Christ’s Resurrection Basilica in Kaunas (Kauno Kristaus Prisikėlimo bazilika)
Christ’s Resurrection Basilica is a symbol of the Lithuanian nation’s independence, suffering and spiritual revival. Its history reflects Lithuania’s history during the 20th century. Currently, the Resurrection Basilica is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Kaunas. After Lithuania declared its independence from tsarist Russia in 1918, it was determined to commemorate the event by building a church in the Zaliakalnis area of Kaunas. Nearly completed, construction of the church came to a halt with World War II and the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. After the war the unfinished church was repurposed into a radio factory. In 1988, with the start of the national rebirth – “Sajudis”, the desire to complete this monument to Lithuania’s independence was revived. In 1997 the first Holy Mass was celebrated in the Church, which was still covered with scaffolding. In 2004 the Church was granted the title of Christ’s Resurrection. In 2015 Pope Francis bestowed this Church with the title of basilica.
Christ’s Resurrection Church is one of the most expressive modernist style churches in Lithuania. Its architecture is characterized by generalized bulk composition, sharp rhythmic verticals, clearly defined stepped silhouette with a 70 meter high tower, rising toward the heavens. The rooftop terrace has a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Siluva.
The columbarium in the Church cellar contains the remains of distinguished Lithuanian clergymen: the builder of the Church Rev. Feliksas Kapocius, Rev. Prof. Antanas Paskus, Rev. Prof. Arvydas Petras Zygas, SJ, and Rev. Prof. Kestutis Trimakas, SJ. In 2005, when St. John Paul II went home to the Heavenly Father, a huge crowd gathered in this Church for the Kaunas Archdioceses prayer vigil. This collective prayer gave rise to a new tradition. Now the anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II is solemnly commemorated every year at Christ’s Resurrection Church.
For more information about Resurrection Basilica on the Route of Saint John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 7.00 – 18.30
Terrace of the Church can be visited daily.
Mon. – Sat. – 18.00
Sun. – 9.30, 11.00, 12.30, 18.00
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – the tenth Sunday after Easter
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8 (transferred to the following Sunday)
THE MOTHER OF FAIR LOVE AND THE HARMONY OF NATURE AND ARCHITECTURE
Pazaislis Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and Monastery (Pažaislio Švč. Mergelės Marijos apsilankymo bažnyčia ir vienuolynas)
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and monastery is one the most renowned Late Baroque masterpieces in the northeastern part of Europe. It was built on Pazaislis Hill, near Kaunas Reservoir (lith.: “Kauno marios”), on the outskirts of Kaunas. The sanctuary was built for the Camaldolese monks by Kristupas Zygimantas Pacas, the chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The painting known as the Camaldolese Mother of God or as the Mother of Fair Love, was given as a gift to the founder of the Pazaislis Church in 1661, by Pope Alexander VII. The image is known for its special graces and has drawn huge crowds of pigrims to the annual indulgence feast, celebrated on July 2nd.
The ensemble of Pazaislis is rich with frescoes, portraying various iconographic themes. Of particular importance is the fresco painted in the monastery’s southern corridor, by the sacristy. It portrays the life and martyrdom of St. Bruno Boniface of Querfurt, who is associated with the first recorded reference of Lithuania’s name in the Annals of Quedlinburg. St. Bruno had come to Lithuania to spread the Gospel. In 1009, he baptized Duke Netimer, but was killed by the Duke’s brother. It is the earliest and most comprehensively-detailed portrayal of the first baptism in Lithuania.
In 1812 the Church was devastated by Napoleon’s soldiers. After the Uprising of 1831, the Camaldolese monastery was closed, and the Church was converted into an Orthodox church. Consequently, many interior and exterior details of the Church were demolished or altered. Pazaislis Church was also heavily damaged during the period of World War I. During the interwar period the Sisters of St. Casimir settled in Pazaislis complex. During the Soviet era the Sisters were evicted, and were forced to operate in the underground. During that period, the Church and monastery were repurposed numerous times and served as the National Archives, a tourist base, a psycho-neurological hospital and as a branch of the M. K. Ciurlionis Art Museum. In 1992 Pazaislis Monastery was returned to the Sisters of St. Casimir. Due to their dedication, Pazaislis has become not just a home for their congregation, but a true spiritual center.
For more information about Pažaislis Church and Monastery on the Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
the first Saturday of each month (pilgrims’ day) – 12.00
CONSTRUCTION OF A CHURCH DURING THE SOVIET OCCUPATION
Klaipeda Mary Queen of Peace Church (Klaipėdos Marijos Taikos Karalienės bažnyčia)
The construction of this Church bears witness to the immense challenges Lithuania’s faithful had to endure during the Soviet occupation, and it is a testament to their devotion and perseverance.
Until the 1960s, Klaipeda’s Catholics had only one place of worship – Apostle Church. In 1956, the City Committee designated to Klaipeda’s Catholic Community a one hectare allotment of marshy land on Rumpiskes Street, on the outskirts of town. The marshy ground had to be reinforced first, then the construction of the Church began. After a couple of years, the Soviet authorities began to hinder its construction and eventually started demolition of the nearly completed Church in 1962. All of the Church’s interior furnishings were destroyed. All decorations were covered with tar, the equipment was disassembled, the main altar was demolished and plastered over, other altars were dismantled, and valuable plaster Way of the Cross bas-reliefs were smashed and crushed under the tractor tracks. Later on, the fragments were buried in the mud, all of the decorations were destroyed and the Church towers demolished. Additionally, the Church had been designated to house the “Lithuanian SSR National Philharmonic”.
The faithful of Lithuania and other countries collected signatures and petitioned the authorities to have the Church returned to the Catholic community. The initiators of the petitions were declared to be in opposition to the Soviet regime by government authorities, and were, subsequently, persecuted by the KGB. Nevertheless in 1988, at the beginning of the independence movement “Sajudis”, the Church was returned to the faithful, and the first Holy Mass was celebrated on the evening of November 25th of the same year. The most significant restoration tasks were completed by its first rector Rev. Bronislavas Burneikis. The Church is decorated with modern Lithuanian artist frescoes and statues.
8.00 – 19.00
Fri. – 18.00
Sat. – Sun. – 12.00
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian) on the 15 th of each month (lietuvių k.) 12.00, 10.00 (May–October)
Mary, Mother of God – January 1
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Žolinė) – August 15
Saint Anthony of Padua – June 13 (transfered to the following Sunday)
Our Lady of the Snows – August 5
Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles – June 29
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8
Immaculate Conception – December 8
THE HILLS OF CALVARY AND THE MIRACULOUS PAINTING OF LOVING MADONNA AND CHILD
Zemaiciu Kalvarija Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and the Way of the Cross (Žemaičių Kalvarijos Švč. Mergelės Marijos Apsilankymo bažnyčia ir Kryžiaus kelio stotys)
Zemaiciu Kalvarija (“Samogitian Calvary”) is the main shrine in the Diocese of Telšiai. The town became famous for its Way of the Cross with twenty Stations built in 1639. Walking the Way of the Cross, also referred to as Calvary, while listening to 400 year old “Kalnai” (lith.: “Hills”) hymns being sung, pilgrims contemplate the significance of Christ’s Passion and Death on the cross.
The origins of Zemaiciu Kalvarija are linked to the chapel built on St. John’s Hill in 1619, and to the parish established in 1622. Samogitian Bishop Jurgis Tiskevicius invited Dominicans to come to Gardai, where he gave them a parcel of land and constructed a monastery. At this location, the Dominicans built a “Calvary” – free standing chapels with the Stations of the Cross – to commemorate Christ’s Passion, with the Calvary Indulgence Feast celebrated here annually. Since then, this pilgrimage site is referred to as Zemaiciu Kalvarija.
From the middle of the 17th century Zemaiciu Kalvarija became widely renowned for its miraculous image of Madonna and Child, brought from Rome by a Dominican monk, and for the Indulgence Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1649, a relic of the Holy Cross was brought from the Dominican monastery in Lublin, and to this day it is venerated at the Church of Visitation.
With the steadily increasing popularity of the Zemaiciu Kalvarija Indulgence Feast and the rising number of pilgrims, the Dominicans started the construction of a new larger church, which took over 40 years to complete, and was finally consecrated in 1824. Following two uprisings against the rule of tsarist Russia at the end of the 19th century, the Dominican monastery was closed. Several years later the Church burned down. The reconstruction of the Church was finished at the beginning of the 20th century. After Lithuania’s declaration of independence, the Marian Fathers took up residence at the Zemaiciu Kalvarija. Their influence was invaluable to the town’s culture, education and spiritual growth. The Soviet authorities closed the Marian monastery and changed the name of the town to Varduva, however, the Church remained open and the Stations of the Cross remained intact. In 1987 the Jubilee of Lithuania’s Christianization was solemnly celebrated at the Zemaiciu Kalvarija. In 1988 the Church was granted the title of minor basilica, and in 1989 the name of the town was changed back to Zemaiciu Kalvarija. In 2006 the painting of Madonna and Child was adorned with papal crowns.
For more information about Zemaiciu Kalvarija Church on the Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Fri. – 12.00 (October–March), 19.00 (April–September)
Sat. – 12.00
Sun. – 10.00, 12.00
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian): 8.00, 10.00, 12.00
Great indulgence feast of Zemaiciu Kalvarija – July 2–12
Holy Mass (in Lithuanian): 8.00, 10.00, 12.00, 19.00
During monthly indulgenced feasts after 12:00 Mass
During the Great Indulgenced Feast (in July) after each Mass
THE SYMBOL OF A PEACEFUL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM
The Hill of Crosses (Kryžių kalnas)
The Hill of Crosses, also known as Lithuania’s Golgotha, is an exceptional pilgrimage site and a symbol of the Lithuanian struggle and victory against the Soviet regime. St. John Paul II made it famous throughout the world, when in 1993 he visited the Hill of Crosses and celebrated the Holy Mass together with Lithuania’s bishops. The Mass was attended by a crowd of 100,000 people. During his homily the Holy Father sincerely admitted that he had wanted to visit the Hill for a long time to reflect about Christ’s Cross. The Pope climbed the Hill to pray before and after the Mass. The Hill of the Crosses made a deep impression on the Pope, who spread the word about this pilgrimage site around the world in his later speeches. In 1994 John Paul II’s cross was erected on the Hill of Crosses.
In 1993, while visiting the Franciscan monastery on Mount La Verna in Italy, John Paul II encouraged the Franciscans to build a hermitage near the Hill of Crosses. The monastery was built and consecrated in 2000.
It is believed that the first crosses were placed on the Jurgaiciai Hill in approximately the mid-19th century, as a sign of genuine Lithuanian devotion and gratitude to God. Records located in surviving Siauliai mansions at the time, indicate that the first cross was built by a man who had recovered from a serious illness. It is also believed that the crosses on this Hill were erected to honor the slain rebels of the uprisings of 1831 and 1863. Following the Uprising of 1863, tsarist General Muravjov built a camp where approximately a 1,000 rebels lost their lives.
Despite the prohibition and danger during the Soviet occupation, the faithful erected crosses on the Hill almost every night, with the Soviet officials cutting them down the next day. Throughout the decades of Soviet occupation, the cross became a source of strength and hope for the Lithuanian people. Ultimately, the peaceful resistance of the faithful prevailed. Lithuania defeated the Soviet occupation in 1991. Today the Hill, with over 200,000 crosses, is recognized as one of the most exceptional Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.
For more information about the Hill of the Crosses on the Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
8.00 – 21.00
Mon. – 7.00
Tues. – Sun. – 11.00
The Great Indulgenced Feast of the Hill of Crosses – last Sunday of July
11.00 Pilgrimge on foot from Šiauliai Cathedral
14.00 Reconciliation Liturgy and Confessions
15.00 Holy Mass
LITHUANIA’S RENAISSANCE AND THE NEWEST LITHUANIAN DIOCESE CENTER
Siauliai Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Cathedral (Šiaulių šv. apaštalų Petro ir Pauliaus katedra)
Siauliai Cathedral is the most prominent example of Renaissance architecture in Lithuania. One of the most important objects of devotion in this Shrine is the painting of Our Lady of Zemaiciu Kalvarija. In the Divine Mercy Chapel the relics of St. John Paul II, St. Faustina and Blessed Fr. M. Sopocko are venerated.
From whatever direction you arrive in Šiauliai, you are sure to see the Cathedral’s 70-meter-tall, graceful tower. The current masonry Church was built next to the former wooden church, with the statues of Saints Peter and Paul above its altar at the beginning of the 17th century. The Church tower that stood until the end of the 19th century was an impressive Renaissance five slot masonry work of art, with a wooden bell-shaped peak, and at the time in Lithuania, a rarely encountered clock. The Church tower had to be rebuilt after it was struck by lightning.
The most unique aspect of Šiauliai Cathedral is its architectural fortress motif. It was a Renaissance style tradition and a practical necessity to protect sacred grounds, religious items and works of art from common robbers and Protestant riots. Bay windows on the grand tower and churchyard gate towers are equipped with firing holes to further the impression of a defensive fortress. However, the defense motif is more formal than practical, because the firing niches are simplified and awkward to be useful for that purpose.
The Church sustained substantial damage during the war with the Swedes in the mid-17th century, the Great Northern War of the early 18th century, and during World War I. However, the Church incurred the worst devastation during the fire and bombing of Siauliai in World War II. The fire destroyed the treasured interior of the Church, as well as works of art, liturgical objects, and the invaluable Church archives. Reconstruction began immediately after the War and lasted about three decades. A Crucifix, which survived the fire, was placed above the main altar in the newly reconstructed Church. In 1997 St. John Paul II established the Diocese of Siauliai with the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul at its heart.
For more information about Siauliai Cathedral on the Pilgrim Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Fri. – 7.00, 7.30, 17.00, 18.00
Sat. – 8.00, 10.00, 17.00, 18.00
Sun. – 8.00, 9.30, 11.00, 12.30, 18.00
Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles – June 29
Every year, during the week of the Sunday after Easter, the International Festival of Religious Music is held at Šiauliai Cathedral
ST. JOHN PAUL II MOMENT OF REST
St. Ignatius Loyola Church (Šv. Ignaco Lojolos bažnyčia)
The Jesuit mission in Siauliai was established in 1930 by Fr. Benediktas Andruska, its first rector. Under his direction a masonry oratory was built in 1936. In 1948 the Church was closed and the building was used as a warehouse, and later as a fitness facility. In 1986, under a pretext of the city needing a new concert hall, and with the assistance of the city government officials, the funding was obtained and the restoration began. In 1990 the Church was returned to the faithful and consecrated on December 23rd. During his 1993 visit to Lithuania, Pope John Paul II briefly rested at St. Ignatius Loyola Church. The Holy Father blessed the Church and the future site of Fr. Benediktas Andruska Elementary School, which was established in 1995 in a former Kindergarten building near the Church.
IMPRESSIVE BAROQUE ARCHITECTURE AND THE WAY OF THE CROSS
Tytuvenai Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Angels Church and Monastery (Tytuvėnų Švč. Mergelės Marijos Angelų Karalienės bažnyčia ir vienuolynas)
Tytuvenai Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Angels Church and Bernardine monastery is one the largest and most treasured examples of Lithuanian sacred architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. In its rich architecture emerges a multilayered harmony of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The ensemble consists of: a church; a two-story masonry monastery with nearby utility buildings; a churchyard containing the Way of the Cross and the Holy Stairs Chapel, which was designed to mirror the Lateran Palace Chapel in Rome. The main altar of the Church features a painting of the Mother of God and Child, famed for special graces. It is a rare example of the painting style prevalent within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which is characterized by symbolic Byzantine tradition of icon image structure and carved gilded background, which was discovered during the restoration of the image in 2003.
The Way of the Cross has an important place in traditional Bernardine devotion. The current gallery of the Way of the Cross and the Holy Stairs Chapel (or Christ’s Chapel) were installed after the Bernardine Antanas Burnickis trip to the Holy Land, in the second half of the 18th century. From Jerusalem, Brother Burnickis brought to the monastery sea shell models of renowned shrines of the Holy Land, as well as two crosses and some holy soil, which is displayed under glass enclosures near the Stations of the Cross. As is typical for the Stations of the Cross constructed in monastery courtyards, the Way of the Cross in Tytuvenai does not replicate the topography of Jerusalem. The Passion of Christ, rather, is depicted through paintings. Each step of the Chapel contains a relic in a glass enclosure.
For more information about Tytuvenai Church and Monastery on the Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Church is open before the Mass. Other time entrance to the church through Pilgrim center 8.00 – 17.00
Mon. – Fri. – 9.00 (October – April), 19.00 (May–September)
Sat. – 9.00
Sun. – 10.00, 12.00
Last Friday of each month – 19.00 (May–September). Way of Cross procession is held after the Mass.
Saint Anthony – June 13 (transferred to Sunday)
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – first Sunday in July
Our Lady Queen of the Angels – first Sunday in August
ONE OF EUROPE’S FIRST MARIAN APPARITIONS
Shrine of Siluva (Šiluvos šventovė)
The apparition of the Mother of God in Siluva is one of earliest in Europe, and the only known apparition where Mary approached a person from another Christian (non-Catholic) denomination. In the middle of the 16th century, Calvinism took hold in the region of Šiluva. Consequently, the Catholic Church was demolished, and its valuables and documents were put in a chest and buried by the last rector of Siluva, Rev. Jonas Holubka. In 1608, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to children tending their sheep on the old church grounds. To the Calvinist teacher, who had been brought to the site of the apparition by the shepherds, Mary said, that “at this place her Son was worshipped, but now people only plow and sow.” Shortly after the apparition, the buried deed and other important church documents were rediscovered. As a result, the Calvinist challenge to ownership of the property failed, and the court returned it to the Catholics. A new wooden church was built, and the Indulgence Feast of Silines was revived. Soon after, an image of Our Lady of Šiluva with Child Jesus, located in this church, began to gain fame for its special graces. In 1786, a newly built Baroque-style Catholic Church – the current Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – was consecrated. At the same time, the miraculous painting of Our Lady of Siluva with Child was adorned with Papal crowns. The Chapel of Mary, Health of the Sick is located on the right side of the presbytery, and houses the chest found after Mary’s apparition, a cross damaged by a shotgun during a clash with the Calvinists, and liturgical clothes and other items from the old Church of Siluva.
The Indulgence Feast of Siluva became especially popular in Lithuania during the interwar period. In 1924 a wooden chapel at the site of Virgin Mary’s apparition was replaced by a new masonry Apparition Chapel designed by renowned architect Antanas Vivulskis. During the Soviet occupation the government attempted to disrupt the traditional indulgence feast, but it was unsuccessful. In 1991, Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius and the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis signed an Act in Siluva consecrating Lithuania to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1993, St. John Paul II prayed in the Apparition Chapel in Siluva and participated in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word in the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
For more information about Siluva Shrine on the Route of John Paul II, follow this link.
Mon. – Sun. – 8.00 – 20.00 (May–October)
Mon. – Sun. – 8.00 – 15.00 (November–April)
Mon. – Fri. – 12.00
Sat. – 10.00, 12.00
Sun. – 8.00, 10.00, 12.00
The 13th of each month – 9.00 and 12.00
During the indulgence feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Šilinės, on September 7 – 15) – 10.00, 12.00 (in the esplanade), 18.00
Mon. – Sat. – 19.00 (only May-September), 18.00 (only October)
The 13th of each month – 8.00, 10.00
During the indulgence feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Šilinės, on September 7 – 15) – 8.00, 9.00
Indulgence Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Šilinės) – September 7-15
Marian Days – the 13th of every month
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – May 31 (transferred to the nearest Sunday)
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – transferred to the third Sunday after Pentecost
THE FILIAL SHRINE OF THE PAPAL BASILICA OF SAINT MARY MAJOR
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Basilica in Krekenava (Krekenavos Švč. Mergelės Marijos Ėmimo į Dangų bazilika)
Krekenava Church is renowned for its miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child. According to tradition, a pious knight named Shiling brought the painting from Krakow in the 14th century and presented it to Albert, a missionary who preached the Gospel on the banks of the Nevėžis River. With the appearance of this painting Catholicism began to spread throughout the region. The painting originally hung in a small chapel, but in 1419 it was moved to the first Church of Krekenava, built by Vytautas the Great.
The current Gothic-style Church was built in 1901 and survived both World Wars without any major damage. In 1999, Pope John Paul II instituted a plenary indulgence for pilgrims who visit the Shrine of Krekenava during the octave of the Assumption and on the 15th day of every month (Protocol No. 115/99/1). On May 7, 2000, during a prayer service near the Coliseum in Rome, which was a part of the Great Jubilee of Christianity, John Paul II announced the martyrs of faith of the 20th century. Among the 114 Lithuanian witnesses of faith entered into the book of Church martyrs, 8 were residents of Krekenava, who lost their lives defending the Church and their faith during World War II.
In 2011 the Church was granted the title of minor basilica. It is the first, and so far the only Church in Lithuania joined in a bond of spiritual kinship with the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
St. Anthony of Padua is considered a special patron of Krekenava Church. His miraculous image is displayed at the altar on the left side of the Church. The picture of “Christ Among the Krekenava Residents” can also be seen at this Church. In 2014, on the Sunday after Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), a picture of St. John Paul II was unveiled at the side altar.
For more information about Krekenava Church on the Route of St. John Paul II, follow this link.
8.00 – 19.00
Fri. – 18.00
Sat. – Sun. 12.00
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Žolinė) – August 15 (continues from August 14 to August 22)
Monthly indulgenced feast – the 15th of each month
Mary, Mother of God – January 1
St Anthony of Padua – June 13 (transferred to the nearest Sunday)
Our Lady of the Snows – August 5
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8
The Immaculate Conception – December 8
DEVOTION TO MARY AND BEAUTIFUL NEO-GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE
Rokiskis St. Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist Church (Rokiškio Šv. apaštalo ir evangelisto Mato bažnyčia)
Consecrated in 1885, the Church of Rokiskis was considered a Shrine of a European scale. Today, it is the most beautiful Neo-Gothic ensemble in Lithuania, with extremely valuable works of 19th century masters. The construction of the Church was funded and managed by a brother and sister – Count Reinoldas Tyzenhauzas and Marija Psezdzeckiene. Additionally, the Count involved many parishioners in the construction. On an interesting side note, the Count released his peasants from serfdom a decade before the Tsar abolished it.
After the Count’s death, his sister oversaw the installation of the interior, making sure that only the finest works of art would appear in the Church. A gilded bronze altar and a grand crucifix were acquired in Paris. The pulpit, also purchased at the Paris exhibition, is considered to be a masterpiece. The 5,000 francs spent on this pulpit would have been sufficient to construct an entire modest church of the time. The Gothic canopy above the altar and all of the other finer oak carvings were made in the Gojer workshop in Leuven (Belgium). Bronze statues in the presbytery immortalizing Engelbrachtas Tyzenhauzas, a soldier of the Livonian Order, and Count R. Tyzenhauzas, founder of the Church, were made in Vienna. On the reverse side of the altar the names of all who contributed to the construction of the Church are engraved in bronze. On one side, the names of the construction committee and all the tradesmen are inscribed in Latin; on the other side, the names of the noblemen are inscribed in Polish; and in the middle, the names of the villages and homesteads and their residents – peasants are inscribed in Lithuanian. The Church’s stained glass windows, featuring the founder’s coat of arms, were crafted in Vienna. A huge 24-voice organ was made in Germany. The Church floors are constructed with Finnish granite, the presbytery floor and the stairs of the altar are made of white marble. A treasured mosaic of Mary of the Gate of Dawn can be found in the crypt of the Chapel, where the remains of Count Tyzenhauzas rest.
The region of Rokiskis is known for a particularly strong devotion to Mary, which is why a number of Marian statues can be found throughout the town. In the right nave of the Church is an altar of Mary, Queen of the Rosary, with an interesting sculptural composition from the iconographic point of view – the sculpture of Madonna and Child is surrounded with carvings of the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary.
8.00 – 18.30
Mon. – Fri. – 8.00, 18.00
Sat. – 8.00, 10.00, 18.00
Sun. – 8.00, 10.00, 12.00, 18.00
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – transferred to the third Sunday after Pentecost
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Žolinė) – August 15
Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist – September 21 (transferred to the nearest Sunday)