Catholic Shrines & Places of Interest in Lithuania
Few countries in modern times have suffered the persecution and devastation as this small Baltic nation. With conquerors such as Germany and Russia, many hundreds of thousands of people were exiled or simply killed. The Jewish community, once the nation’s largest minority, was all but wiped out during the Nazi occupation. Likewise, many Catholic priests and nuns were exiled or simply killed.
The end of World War II unfortunately brought Russian occupation, when many were deported to Siberia or forced in to exile. Estimates are that up to 30% of the population was simply wiped out in an effort to make the country more ethnically diverse in favor of the Soviets.
Through all this, the Catholic faith was somehow kept alive (the country is over 90% Catholic). With the collapse of Communism the country has opened up and at the end of August 1992, the last Russian soldier left what had become an independent country. Today, the country offers a glimpse into old world charm unspoiled by huge numbers of tourists (at least for now). We definitely encourage you to visit if you can.
Note: due to the influence of Poland over the centuries, you will find most churches have Mass in either Lithuanian or Polish, and often times both.
There are several sites in Lithuania of particular interest to Catholics:
Siauliai: Hill of the Crosses
Siluva: Our Lady of Siluva