Siluva, Lithuania: Our Lady of Siluva
The story of Our Lady of Siluva:
Catholic history in Lithuania dates from 1457 when the first church was built in the country and the land given to the Catholic Church. The diplomat who did so, Peter Giedgaudas, also traveled to Rome and returned with a beautiful painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus. This painting was placed in the sanctuary of the church.
Once Calvinism took hold many of the nobility turned against the Church and property was confiscated by the Calvinists. In 1570 it was made known that they planned to take over the Church the parish priest, Father John Halubka, hid important documents and the image of Our Lady in a box under a rock near the church. Later on the church was demolished and no trace of it remained.
About 20 years later times had changed and a new law gave the Church the right to re-possess the properties taken from her. The only hitch was that the church had to present documents proving that the property was actually theirs. No documents could be found and the church remained in the hands of the Protestant rulers.
The apparitions of Our Lady of Siluva:
Then in 1608, several children who were tending sheep saw a beautiful lady standing on a rock near the church and crying. The children fled but returned the next day with many of the villagers (most of them skeptics) and this time all saw the lady. Even the Calvinist pastor, perhaps the biggest skeptic of them all, came to believe. When he asked the lady why she was crying she replied that before her Son had been worshiped and adored on that spot but now it is only used for farming.
As news spread of this apparition a man in a nearby village–old and nearly blind–remembered that Father Halubka had buried the box under a large rock. When he was led to the spot his sight was miraculously restored and he pointed out the exact location of the chest. Inside the chest were the documents proving ownership of the church as well as the image of Our Lady.
As time went on the church became a place of pilgrimage until 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied the country and forbid worship in the church. The Soviets tried to ban public transport, spread rumors of infectious diseases and everything possible to dissuade people from visiting the shrine; however, pilgrims continued to visit and hold Mass in secret. Finally in 1989 Lithuania regained its independence and thousands now flock here each year.
The image itself is only on display on certain days, but there is a replica of the image always displayed in the church. This is the third church building, as others were continually being out-grown.
There is no train service directly to Siluva, you would need to take the train to Siauliai (near the Hill of Crosses) and then take a bus or a taxi. Get train and bus schedules, see fares and buy tickets here.
Address: M. Jurgaičio g. 2, LT–60432 Šiluva, Raseinių r., Lithuania
Tel: +370 428 43190
Click here for the official website of Our Lady of Siluva