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.
Tues. – Thurs. – 18.00 (in a chapel)
Sun. – 11.00, 13.00
Sun. – 11.00
Mon. – Sun. – 10.00 – 19.00
Mon. – Sun. – 11.00 – 20.00
Belfry is closed from October untill April.