Christian PilgrimagePilgrimages in LithuaniaJohn Paul II and Lithuania

The Son of God is worshipped here eternally.
Gintaro Česonio fotografija
Piligrimų kelias
Šiluvos šventovė

Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The current red brick church of Šiluva was built and furnished around the middle of the 18th century. It is an example of late baroque sacred architecture, with an interior that has been preserved almost entirely unchanged for more than two centuries. The roughly 35-meter tall, vertically oriented, two-tower church stands out from other sanctuaries of the era for its external walls of exposed red brick. The church’s interior has three naves. The central nave, twice as wide as the lateral naves, extends into a presbytery of equal height and width that ends in a three-walled apse. The church’s architect is unknown. Its interior decoration is the work of the artist Tomas Podgaiskis, who laboured more than a decade to create the elaborate and cohesive ensemble of seven altars, pulpit, baptistery and organ loft.

The Basilica’s iconography develops three main themes: Mary as she who brought the Saviour into the world, Christ as the Founder of the Church, and the Church itself. These are complemented by secondary themes, including events from the Old and New Testaments, the Apostles, and other saints who contributed to the fortification and growth of the Church.

The main altar features the miraculous painting of the Mother of God and Child. Statues on either side of the image represent Mary’s two guardians – her spouse St Joseph and her father St Joachim. The upper level of the altarpiece contains sculpture work of St Peter leading the faithful to God the Father through the Church, which is entrusted to his care. At the apex, in glory, stands God the Father with outstretched arms. Just above the altar, there is a figure of a pelican. The altar at the end of the left nave is dedicated to the Holy Family, while the one at the end of the right nave is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Christ.

The Chapel of Mary, Health of the Sick, at the right side of the presbytery, guards the iron chest that was found with the church’s valuables after Mary’s apparition, plus a Cross that was injured by gunfire during a 17th-century clash with the Calvinists, and liturgical items from the old church of Šiluva. These articles will be transferred to a museum that is being set up, so that the chapel may be reserved for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.