The beautiful Image of the Mother of Mercy in Vilnius is one of the highlights of our pilgrimage to Vilnius. This famous and old image of the Mother of Mercy is one of the most popular religious shrines in Lithuania and every year thousands of Catholics come to visit the Shrine and to pray for their intentions.
One of the reasons this image of the Mother of Mercy is so important to our pilgrimage is because this Image came alive to St. Faustina and Mary spoke to St. Faustina and encouraged her to continue to fulfil the holy Will of her son. This image is displayed in an archway known in Vilnius as the “Gates of Dawn”. In the 16th Century, a large wall was built around the city of Vilnius to protect them from their enemies. The Gates of Dawn was the most dangerous part of this wall and they put an Image of the Mother of Mercy in the archway of this wall for protection. The history of Vilnius records that this section of the wall has gone unharmed in spite of all the various wars and battles that have taken place in its proximity. The Mother of Mercy Image has also become known for its miraculous power and there is a long history of people in Vilnius publically declaring that they were healing while praying to the image of the Mother of Mercy. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited this shrine and prayed the Rosary there. He told the crowd that he had always wanted to visit this special shrine.
The Gates of Dawn was also the first place where the image of Divine Mercy was exposed for the first time and also where the first celebration of the Feast of Mercy took place. So the Gates of Dawn will forever be linked with this new Devotion to Divine Mercy and it is absolutely wonderful to pray and talk with the Mother of Mercy while we are spending time at this shrine. We will also have the honour of attending Mass during our time at this Shrine of the Mother of Mercy and you will also have some time for personal prayer also. There are some nice religious shops within the vicinity of the Gates of Dawn so you will have an opportunity to purchase a little remembrance of your time in one of the holiest places in the world.
On the evening of the last day [November 15, 1935] of the Novena at Ostra Brama, after the singing of the litany, one of the priests exposed the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. When he placed it on the altar, I immediately saw the Infant Jesus, stretching out His little arms, first of all toward His Mother, who at that time had taken on a living appearance. When the Mother of God was speaking to me, Jesus stretched out His tiny hands toward the congregation. The Blessed Mother was telling me to accept all that God asked of me like a little child, without questioning; otherwise it would not be pleasing to God. At that moment, the Infant Jesus vanished, and the Mother of God was again lifeless, and Her picture was the same as it had been before. But my soul was filled with great joy and gladness, and I said to the Lord, “Do with me as You please; I am ready for everything, but You, O Lord, must not abandon me even for a moment.” (Diary 529)