Christian PilgrimagePilgrimages in LithuaniaJohn Paul II and Lithuania

O gracious Queen, who at Calvary works wonders, to your protection we entrust our families!
Gintaro Česonio fotografija

Basilica of the Visitation

The current stone Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Samogitian Calvary is the fourth. Exactly when the first church was built is not known. Some documents say a wooden chapel was built here in 1619. The second church, also wooden, appeared in the mid 17th century alongside the town’s new Dominican monastery. A third wooden church arose in 1750. The current church was constructed between 1780 and 1822. It was severely damaged by a fire in 1896. Hundreds of books and archive documents perished in that blaze, including the register of miracles at Samogitian Calvary. The church, rebuilt at the start of the 20th century, was raised to the status of basilica in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. The triangular edifice with three naves and a three-sided apse is one of the most noteworthy works of the architect Augustinas Kosakauskas (1737–1803).

The main altar emphasizes devotion to Mary and to the Passion of Christ. The lower part of the scene comprises four columns, at the centre of which is a crowned painting of the Mother of God and Child in a gilded frame. Above that is the “Altar of the Holy Cross” with a large Crucifixion sculpture, which originally hung in one of the chapels and is considered miraculous. The relic of the Holy Cross is kept at this upper altar.

The Basilica also preserves an authentic photocopy of the Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the cloth placed on the body of Jesus at the time of his burial. The copy was given to the shrine in 2004 by the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto. His gift helps pilgrims to meditate on the passion and death of Christ, and is an eloquent testimony of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead.