Feasts and Marian Piety
From olden times Krekenava has been known for its Indulgenced Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Žolinė), which draws tens of thousands of participants. At the centre of this feast is the shrine’s painting of the Mother of God, which is renowned for extraordinary graces.
One hymn dedicated to Our Lady of Krekenava is especially well known. It was translated from Polish and edited by one of the top names in Lithuanian literature, Maironis, who lived in Krekenava during World War I. The hymn was included in a book of his poems entitled “Voices of Spring” (“Pavasario Balsai”). Numerous hymns sing the praises of the Krekenava Mother of God as Queen of Heaven, Queen assumed into Heaven, Protector from evil and ruin, and Refuge of sinners. People address her with the titles from her litany and petition her aid by praying the Rosary. The faith of Krekenava’s inhabitants, which has always been vibrant, and their struggle for religious freedom is closely linked with their undying devotion to the miraculous Mother of God.
Even during Soviet times, when the Assumption was declared a working day and pilgrims were punished for attending the indulgenced feast, they would gather by the thousands. Groups belonging to the Friends of the Eucharist, who travelled throughout Lithuania during the communist era praying the Rosary for the rebirth of their homeland, visited the shrine of Krekenava regularly.
On September 8, 1999, Pope John Paul II instituted a plenary indulgence for pilgrims who visit the shrine of Krekenava during the octave of the Assumption (August 15-22), on the 15th of any month or during the indulgenced feast of St Anthony of Padua (June 13 or the nearest Sunday). During indulgenced feasts, thousands of pilgrims flood the town and a multitude of priests come to hear confessions.
On March 11, 2009, the shrine of Krekenava was joined in a bond of spiritual kinship with the Papal Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome, making it the Roman basilica’s first and so far only Lithuanian daughter shine. For the occasion, the Apostolic Penitentiary declared perpetual plenary indulgences for pious visits to the shrine of Krekenava on the feast of Our Lady of the Snows, on the feast of the Assumption, during all solemnities of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on any one day each year chosen by the pilgrim and when coming to the shrine with a group of pilgrims.