Lithuania – The Churches

My outside view of a baptism inside a little Catholic church on Saturday:

Yep, still more on Lithuania that I haven’t posted. And if you’re over my trip, don’t feel guilty for just pressing delete – I just want to document for myself here so I remember.

One of the surprising things to me in Vilnius was how many churches there were in a place that was, fairly recently, not allowed freedom of worship. Apparently many of the churches were not destroyed on the oustide – they were just gutted on the inside and used for tanks and storage. Most have been beautifully restored, inside and out, and they were also surprisingly alive with parishioners. On Sunday morning, our group of women went out in two’s and went to as many church services to experience them as we could fit in.

At first I was really hesitant – seemed pretty intrusive to just go into people’s churches, especially when we didn’t understand the language for the most part. And to add to it, most of them were Catholic or Orthodox, so they are pretty formal, what I would call more “holy” services, I suppose. However, I got over it and once we got going, it was one of my most favorite experiences. It also reminded me of my grandpa almost the whole time – the devout Catholic families at the services, the smell of incense, the beautiful traditional singing, and recognizable parts of the service despite the language barrier. There was something very holy and reverent, and it was very special.

Of course I didn’t take pictures that morning, but here are a few of the unique moments that I was able to capture on film:

The super impressive National Cathedral…I couldn’t even catch the whole place in one picture, so just had these two snippets…I should have at least backed up some to give some scale, but I liked the views here:

This was really common to find – just a little tucked away place of worship. I just liked the “Sancta” above the statue and then all the bikes lined up right in front:

Crosses viewed from the courtyard across from our hotel:

A little courtyard with an angel looking over me! 🙂 :

One of my favorite spots right inside the Church of St. Francis and Bernadine:

These were taken of an Orthodox church that on the outside looked fine, but was undergoing a restoration inside after it’s use as military storage under Soviet occupation:

I love, love, loved this wooden door inside the church being restored. Not sure why, it just spoke to me:

St. Anne’s Cathedral in Vilnius, with her very gothic architecture:

The juxtaposition of the St. Annes and St. Francis and Bernadines facades with the begging at the gates:

This picture is of our hike to “Three Crosses”, constructed on a hill overlooking Vilnius in 1916, in the place where the three wooden crosses used to stand at least since 1636. The wooden crosses collapsed in 1869 and tsarist authorities did not allow for them to be rebuilt. The new monument was covertly erected in 1916, but was blown up under the order of the Soviet Government in 1950. Eventually the crosses were restored in 1989.

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