Shrine of Divine Mercy Vilnius Lithuania

Vilniaus Dievo Gailestingumo šventovė, Dominikonų gatvė, Vilna, Litva

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About the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius

Located in the heart of the Lithuanian capital, the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius attracts believers and nonbelievers from all over the city every day. Pilgrims from around the world are drawn here as well, desiring refreshment from the streams of grace coming from the Heart of Merciful Jesus.

In the eleven years since the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius opened, it has become a refuge for many wounded, strayed, and doubtful souls. Here, those rejected by the world find shelter; those cold in their faith, renewal.

Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is available all day long: Jesus waits for his children night and day.

Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius

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In the center of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius above the altar is the original painting of Merciful Jesus, popularly known as the Image of Divine Mercy, made by the artist Eugene Kazimierowski in 1934, which our Savior Himself desired St. Faustina Kowalska to have painted as a sign to the world of His infinite mercy. He promised many graces for souls who will pray with trust in front of this image.

Travels of the Image of Divine Mercy

After the image of Merciful Jesus was completed in June 1934, it was kept in the corridor of the convent of the Bernardine Sisters beside the Church of St. Michael where Fr. Michael Sopoćko was rector.

Jesus, in one of St. Faustina’s visions, had expressed to her His wish that the image be put in a place of honor, above the main altar of the church. In 1937, on the first Sunday after Easter – now Divine Mercy Sunday – the image of Merciful Jesus was hung in the Church of St. Michael next to the main altar.

Sister Faustina, however, never saw Jesus’ wish fulfilled. She fell sick in March 1936, so she was transferred from Vilnius back to Poland by her superiors. In October 1938, at the age of 33, she died near Kraków, where she was buried.

After her death, her diary (entitled Divine Mercy in My Soul) was read and unveiled much of the mystery of the revelation of Divine Mercy.

Throughout the Second World War, the Baltic states changed between the hands the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The end of the war brought with it Soviet occupation for Lithuania.

In August 1948, the Church of St. Michael was closed by the communist government, and the convent of the Bernardine Sisters was abolished. All the contents that could be saved from Soviet hands were moved to the Church of the Holy Spirit or placed inside the yard of the Dominicans. But the Image of Divine Mercy was not taken down.

For a time, it remained undisturbed in St. Michael’s. Only in July 1951 was it removed when two faithful women – Bronė Miniotaitė and Janina Rodzevič – ransomed the image from the keeper of the church and after a while gave it to the priest of the Church of Holy Spirit.

Some people wanted to transport it to Poland, but that proved impossible because of the very strict Soviet border control. One man promised to take it across the border illegally, but changed his mind at the last minute, later admitting that he thought it would be a sacrilege.

In 1956, the Image of Divine Mercy was taken from Lithuania to Belarus, to the small church of Naujoji Rūda, not far from Grodno. There the image remained for over a decade, people coming to see and pray in front of it.

In 1970, as had happened years earlier at St. Michael’s, the church was shut down by the government and looted. Everything inside was removed. Everything, that is, except the Image of Divine Mercy. By a miracle, it was untouched.

It was not safe for the image to hang in the neglected church during those long years, so people began planning how to transport it back to Lithuania. In the autumn of 1986, by the efforts of a few priests – among them one Fr. Tadeuš Kondrusievič (now archbishop of the Diocese of the Mother of God in Moscow) and the bishop of Grodno, Aleksander Kaškievič – the Image of Divine Mercy was spirited back to Vilnius.

It was given to the care of the Church of the Holy Spirit again, and since a lot of repair work was going on in the church at that time, a new painting did not raise the suspicion of the government.

It was hung on a side altar of the church, where it remained until 2005. In the spring of 2003, the professional restorer Edita Hankovsa-Červinska removed previous signs of preservation and repainting from the image, revealing the image exactly as it was in 1934 when Kazimierowski painted it under Sister Faustina’s guidance.

On 28 September 2005, the Image of Divine Mercy was moved to the restored, nearby Church of the Holy Trinity, which was thereafter named the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius.

The Divine Mercy shrine in Vilnius is decorated with two graffitos made by Nijolė Vilutytė: the Holy Mother of Mercy of the Gates of Dawn and the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you” in eleven languages.

The history of the Divine Mercy shrine in Vilnius began in the 15th century when it was first built as a small Catholic church in the gothic style and was named Holy Trinity Church. From 1946 to 1947, St. Faustina’s confessor Fr. Michael Sopoćko worked in this church.

On Divine Mercy Sunday, 18 April 2004, under the care of Audrys Juozas Cardinal Bačkis, the church was restored, blessed, and given the title Shrine of Divine Mercy.

During the high holy days of the octave of Easter, the faithful who visit the Shrine may receive an indulgence. This week of grace is crowned with the principal celebration of the Divine Mercy shrine Mercy in Vilnius – The Feast of Divine Mercy.

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  • The Image of Divine Mercy

    Dear to every Vilnian is the image of the Holy Mother of Mercy in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn, a site of pilgrimage and Marian devotion since the 17th century. In the 1930s, Vilnius became home to the now-famous image of Merciful Jesus, popularly known as the Image of Divine Mercy, painted in 1934 by Eugene Kazimierowski according to the visions of Sister Faustina.

  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
  • Chaplet of Divine Mercy: Every day 12.45, 15.00 (in Lithuanian), 15:40 (in Polish)
  • Rosary: Every day 11.30, 19.00

Feasts of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius:

  • The Feast of Divine Mercy is the first Sunday after Easter.
  • The Week of Divine Mercy is celebrated from Easter Monday until the Feast of Divine Mercy.
  • Every Friday is a minor feast of the Shrine.

House of St. Faustina
Antakalnis area, Grybo 29a, Vilnius
Contacts: Onutė (8 600 84068), Petras (8 613 34460)

House is open to visitors:
10.00 – 17.00

Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, who was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000, lived in Vilnius in the convent house of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy from 1933 to 1936. During that time, she experienced several mystical visions of Jesus. It was according to these visions that the Vilnian artist Eugene Kazimierowski, under the constant observation of Sister Faustina, painted the now-famous image of Merciful Jesus. In Vilnius, she also met Fr. Michael Sopoćko, a confessor well-known among the sisters. He encouraged her to start the mission which was entrusted to her: to proclaim the Lord’s Mercy.

The prayers comprising the Chaplet of Divine Mercy were spoken by Jesus to Sister Faustina in her visions in Vilnius as well. This happened on 13-14 September 1935 in the wooden house of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.

The convent house itself has survived to the present day almost by miracle. It was badly damaged and fell into ruin in the period after the Second World War because later owners didn’t really care or know about the historical significance of the building. But the number of people was growing who heard the message of mercy and knew where Sister Faustina had lived. In 2008, the house was restored, the cell of Sister Faustina was reconstructed, and space was made for people to pray and reflect in this holy place.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Promises

What the Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina shows how great the graces attached to this prayer are: By saying the chaplet you are bringing humankind closer to Me (Diary 929). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to this prayer provided that the conditions of the correct devotion to the Divine Mercy are met, that is, the spirit of trusting  God and being merciful towards neighbour is required. Perseverance in praying is an expression of this trust; the greater the trust is, the greater the perseverance in saying the Chaplet is. The Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina that by saying the Chaplet one can obtain everything.

However, apart from the grace of a good death, He has never claimed that everything can be obtained immediately, having said the prayer once.

The Lord Jesus attached a promise of obtaining all graces to the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy said with trust – He said: It pleases Me to grant everything they [people] ask of Me by saying the chaplet (Diary 1541), adding: if (…) [it] is compatible with My will (Diary 1731). God’s will is an expression of His love for man, thus everything that is not compatible with it is either bad or harmful.

Apart from the general promise, there are promises that concern the hour of death, and to be more precise: the grace of a happy and peaceful death, in other words, death in the state of grace and without experiencing fear and terror. These graces can be obtained not only by those who say the Chaplet with trust themselves but also the dying by whose bedside others will say this prayer.

How to pray Chaplet:

Begin with: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

On the five large beads:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

On the ten small beads:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Conclude with (3 times):

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Being the largest city in the Baltics, Vilnius lies at the crossroads of East and West.

By plane

Vilnius is easily accessible by air from all major European cities. It takes approximately three hours to fly from many European cities and “hubs” including Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Frankfurt. The Vilnius International Airport is located just outside the centre of Vilnius. It is only 7 km/15 min driving distance from the centre of the city. Access to the city is quick and inexpensive. For up-to-date information on flights, schedules, new routes and airlines see www.vno.lt

By train

Lithuania has a well-developed rail network. Vilnius is the focal point for rail connections in the region. Vilnius Railway Station is situated close to the Old Town, just accross the street from the bus station. Routes and schedules are available atwww.litrail.lt

By bus

There is a choice of international bus lines connecting Vilnius with other European cities. Buses are the cheapest but least comfortable method of reaching Vilnius. There are direct buses to the capital city from many European countries. Routes and schedules are available at www.eurolines.lt and www.ecolines.lt.

The Image of Divine Mercy

Dear to every Vilnian is the image of the Holy Mother of Mercy in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn, a site of pilgrimage and Marian devotion since the 17th century. In the 1930s, Vilnius became home to the now-famous image of Merciful Jesus, popularly known as the Image of Divine Mercy, painted in 1934 by Eugene Kazimierowski according to the visions of Sister Faustina.

Fittingly, the first place that the image of Merciful Jesus was publicly venerated was at His Merciful Mother’s Chapel, the Gates of Dawn. In April of 1935, for three days leading up to the first Sunday after Easter, the image was honored by crowds of faithful people. This occasion also marked the closing of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption of the World, as it had been nineteen hundred years since the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Sister Faustina, who attended these holy days, wrote in her diary that, during the liturgy, the arm of the Savior was moving and blessing all the people gathered there with the sign of the Cross. The image looked like it was alive and the rays flowing from it were penetrating into people’s hearts and were spreading ever further.

St. Faustina experienced the first revelation of the Merciful Savior on 22 February 1931 in Płock, Poland. At that time, she had made her first vows as one of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1933, having professed her perpetual vows, she was directed by her superior to go to the convent house in Vilnius, where she lived until 1936. It was in Vilnius where she had more visions of Jesus, guided the painting of the image, and received from our Lord the message of His divine mercy for the world.

In his painting, Kazimierowski depicted Jesus in the way Sister Faustina saw Him in her visions. His right hand lifted to bless those who look upon Him and clothed with a white tunic, the Savior seems to say, “Peace be with you”. With His left hand, Jesus touches His breast – His Sacred Heart – wherefrom two rays spring forth, one pale, the other red. The pale ray symbolizes water cleansing the soul; the red symbolizes blood, the life of the spirit. Together, these rays shelter souls from the righteous anger of our Heavenly Father, just as they did 2,000 years ago as blood and water flowed out from Jesus’ pierced side when He offered Himself on the cross to the Father in our place, in atonement for our sins. Happy are they who are found living in the shelter of God’s mercy! The water, in turn, symbolizes the healing Sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation while the blood points to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Sacraments truly are springs of grace, refreshment, and healing in the life of the Christian. In St. Faustina’s visions, the Savior asked that the words “Jesus, I trust in you” be inscribed at the bottom of the image. This prayer reminds us that trust is the key to live a life in union with God.

Jesus promised an abundance of graces for those who will pray in front of this painting. He said to St. Faustina: “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend [that soul] as My own glory.” (Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 48).

Jesus promised to protect cities and villages where the image is venerated and also all those who trust in the mercy of God.

Mother of Mercy

Ever since the 17th century, pilgrims have been drawn to Vilnius to visit the miraculous image of the Holy Mother of Mercy. Placed in the chapel above the eastern gates of the city known as the Gates of Dawn, the dark Madonna, her neck humbly bent, graciously looks over the Lithuanian capital under her patronage. For nearly four hundred years, Catholics and Orthodox alike have prayed together in front of our Holy Mother of Mercy. Even before our Lord’s revelations of His divine mercy to St. Faustina in the 1930s, pilgrims were already coming to Vilnius as the City of Mercy, where the intercession of the Mother of Mercy has testified to the inexhaustible divine mercy of our Savior.

Pope St. John Paul II, in his encyclical about Divine Mercy “Dives in misericordia”, also wrote about the merciful Mother of God:

Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the Mother of mercy: our Lady of mercy, or Mother of divine mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which “from generation to generation”105 people become sharers according to the eternal design of the most Holy Trinity. (Dives in Misericordia, 9)

The Hour of Mercy

In October 1937 in Kraków, Jesus directed Sister Faustina to honor the hour of His death – three o’clock in the afternoon – in a special way. He called this hour the hour of great mercy for the whole world, saying to her:

“….as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul….Try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant…. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.” (Diary, 1572)

The Shrine of Divine Mercy in VilniusThe Feast of Divine Mercy

On several occasions when Our Lord appeared to St. Faustina, He made known to her His desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy. That Jesus would request the first Sunday after Easter, which marks the end the octave of the Solemnity of the Resurrection, to be universally celebrated as the Feast of Divine Mercy reveals how interconnected is the Paschal Mystery of the Redemption with the mystery of Divine Mercy. After all, the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s Passion, death, and Resurrection – is the greatest revelation of God’s merciful love.

In His words to St. Faustina, Jesus said that the Feast of Divine Mercy is the last hope of salvation for poor sinners: “Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, recourse to My Mercy.” (Diary, 965)

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.” (Diary, 699)

The Lord asks with sincerity and compassion that souls go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, for then a whole ocean of mercy will be poured out on that soul: When you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. […] Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. (Diary, 1602).

When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. (Diary, 1385). No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My mercy; and this is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy, and on that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable mercy. (Diary, 570)

Travels of the Image of Divine Mercy

After the image of Merciful Jesus was completed in June 1934, it was kept in the corridor of the convent of the Bernardine Sisters beside the Church of St. Michael where Fr. Michael Sopoćko was rector. Jesus, in one of St. Faustina’s visions, had expressed to her His wish that the image be put in a place of honor, above the main altar of the church. In 1937, on the first Sunday after Easter – now Divine Mercy Sunday – the image of Merciful Jesus was hung in the Church of St. Michael next to the main altar.

Sister Faustina, however, never saw Jesus’ wish fulfilled. She fell sick in March 1936, so she was transferred from Vilnius back to Poland by her superiors. In October 1938, at the age of 33, she died near Kraków, where she was buried. After her death, her diary (entitled Divine Mercy in My Soul) was read and unveiled much of the mystery of the revelation of Divine Mercy.

Throughout the Second World War, the Baltic states changed between the hands the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The end of the war brought with it Soviet occupation for Lithuania. In August 1948, the Church of St. Michael was closed by the communist government, and the convent of the Bernardine Sisters was abolished. All the contents that could be saved from Soviet hands were moved to the Church of the Holy Spirit or placed inside the yard of the Dominicans. But the Image of Divine Mercy was not taken down. For a time, it remained undisturbed in St. Michael’s. Only in July 1951 was it removed when two faithful women – Bronė Miniotaitė and Janina Rodzevič – ransomed the image from the keeper of the church and after a while gave it to the priest of the Church of Holy Spirit. Some people wanted to transport it to Poland, but that proved impossible because of the very strict Soviet border control. One man promised to take it across the border illegally, but changed his mind at the last minute, later admitting that he thought it would be a sacrilege.

In 1956, the Image of Divine Mercy was taken from Lithuania to Belarus, to the small church of Naujoji Rūda, not far from Grodno. There the image remained for over a decade, people coming to see and pray in front of it. In 1970, as had happened years earlier at St. Michael’s, the church was shut down by the government and looted. Everything inside was removed. Everything, that is, except the Image of Divine Mercy. By a miracle, it was untouched.

It was not safe for the image to hang in the neglected church during those long years, so people began planning how to transport it back to Lithuania. In the autumn of 1986, by the efforts of a few priests – among them one Fr. Tadeuš Kondrusievič (now archbishop of the Diocese of the Mother of God in Moscow) and the bishop of Grodno, Aleksander Kaškievič – the Image of Divine Mercy was spirited back to Vilnius. It was given to the care of the Church of the Holy Spirit again, and since a lot of repair work was going on in the church at that time, a new painting did not raise the suspicion of the government.

It was hung on a side altar of the church, where it remained until 2005. In the spring of 2003, the professional restorer Edita Hankovsa-Červinska removed previous signs of preservation and repainting from the image, revealing the image exactly as it was in 1934 when Kazimierowski painted it under Sister Faustina’s guidance.

On 28 September 2005, the Image of Divine Mercy was moved to the restored, nearby Church of the Holy Trinity, which was thereafter named the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius.

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