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 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.
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