Christian PilgrimagePilgrimages in LithuaniaJohn Paul II and Lithuania

Through Jesus’ passion to the home of the Heavenly Father.
Dalės Šmerauskaitės fotografija

Church and Monastery

The basilica-size church, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, has three naves and a particularly large presbytery that is as wide and high as the central nave and ends in a three-sided apse. The architecture clearly displays traits of the gothic, mannerist and baroque styles. Currently the church contains nine altars, which are decorated in accord with the baroque and rococo styles.

The main altar is embellished by an ornate tabernacle and a two-level backdrop. The centre of the altar scene’s first level features a painting of the Mother of God and the Child Jesus that is considered miraculous. Statues stand among pillars on either side of the image: on the left are St Bernard of Sienna and St Dominic, and on the right are St Francis of Assisi and St John Capistrano. Francis, Bernard and John Capistrano are three prominent saints of the Franciscan Order, which the first founded and the second reformed, while the third spread its ideas in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The sculpture of St Dominic is placed beside that of St Francis to stress the spiritual affinity of the mendicant orders they founded – the Franciscans and the Dominicans. A sculpture of the Crucifixion occupies the centre of the second level of the altar scene. Above it are depicted the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, and the Father.

The monastery building is a superb example of late Renaissance Lithuanian architecture. The two-story structure is in the form of a horseshoe, whose two ends join the southern wall of the church, thus creating a small enclosed courtyard. A covered walkway lines the walls that face the courtyard. Inside the monastery itself, an old one-way system of corridors is maintained. The large windows of one brightly lit corridor look out onto the cosy patio.