In Memoriam
2nd April, 2005
Pope John Paul II (1920 - 2005)
A Pope with a Special Affection for Lithuania
In Lithuania 1993
At the Hill of Crosses
With the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005, Lithuania lost a great friend, who always expressed special fondness for Lithuania. At the very beginning of his pontificate he declared that half his heart is in Lithuania. His mother had been of Lithuanian heritage. He always endeavoured to speak in Lithuanian to Lithuanians.
Right after his election as Pope, he went to pray in St. Peterís Basilica at the Chapel of Mary of the Dawn Gate, which refers to the Shrine of the Virgin Mary in Vilnius, Lithuania, situated in a small upstairs chapel in the Dawn Gate, originally part of the medieval defensive wall of Vilnius. The Shrine contains a miraculous picture of the Virgin. Pope John Paul II had often expressed a great wish to pray at the Dawn Gate Chapel in Vilnius, a wish he was able to fulfil during his papal visit to Lithuania in September 4 - 8, 1993, only after Lithuania had regained its independence.

Pope John Paul praying at the St Casimir's Chapel and silver sarcophagus in Vilnius Cathedral
Courtesy Catholic Church in Lithuania

The Dawn Gate Chapel - Vilnius

Pope John Paul praying at the –iluva Church

The –iluva Church
Pope John Paul praying at the Hill of Crosses
- Courtesy ELTA
Among the places he visited during his papal visit was the Hill of Crosses near –iauliai and the –iluva Marian Shrine. The Hill of Crosses left a deep impression on the Pope. On the 10th anniversary of the Popeís visit the newly constructed Spiritual Centre in –iluva was given the name of John Paul II.

Sources: www.catholic.lt , "Lietuvos Rytas" 4/4/05.