Thursday, 19 February 2015

HOLY PLACES IN VILNIUS

Over  the last two years I have become familiar with the Churches in Vilnius. They are friends and when I have time I always call in and say hello.

Two weeks ago I went to see three particular acquaintances, the baroque St Teresa’s, the gothic Bernardine Church and into the Chapel of Our Lady at the Gate of Dawn.

Like all holy places they each have a tale to tell.

ST. BERNARDINE
The Church of St. Francis and St. Bernardine called simply the Bernardine Church. It was built in the 15th century. During the Soviet occupation it was closed. Now the place thrives.

Originally it was fashioned in the Gothic style, and then an earlier invasion by Russia in the middle of the 17th century, the Cossacks devastated it. When Lithuania regained its capital city, the church was restored and Northern European Renaissance and Baroque make over; notably some exquisite wood carvings and woodworking, which against the pale walls, jump up to greet you as you enter.


Bernardine Church 


ST TERESA’S
This church with its dark and warm mood with gold decoration shining through was built in the second half of the 18th century. Its high altar is among the most impressive in the city. Everything outside says ‘deep pockets; Swedish sandstone, marble, and granite – were used in the exterior façade.

The church is beautifully maintained with three naves giving it a basilica plan. There is room to move to room in the welcoming gloom. Whilst I am there one or two people come and go, making their prayers and supplications.


St Teresa Church


GATES OF DAWN
The Gates of Dawn enjoy a constant trickle of people making their petitions before Our Lady. People of all dominations and creeds come to kneel before the Madonna. The chapel is part of the only surviving gate of city’s original five gates.

The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy looks down to the side of us. It was painted in 17th century originally in tempera on oak boards, later repainted in oil.


All three friends have several things in common; places of peace and apart from their principal decoration and fabric, free of clutter and notices and all offering a place to just be present.


Chapel at the Gates of Dawn