The Gate of Dawn – Vilnius
During the 16th Century, Vilnius had many enemies who were trying to invade their city. In order to protect themselves, they build a large wall around the city with nine gates. Each of the gates had religious icons and pictures for the purpose of asking God’s help for the protection of the city. The most dangerous point along this wall was the Gate of Dawn, which had a beautiful Image of the Mother of Mercy.
Towards the end of the 16th Century, the shrine had gained a reputation as a source of miracles and cures. The Carmelites were given the responsibility for the shrine, and they built a monastery there and a tradition of placing offerings begun. The wall around the city of Vilnius lasted until the end of the 18th Century, when the Lithuanian government ordered it be taken down, with the exception of the Gate of Dawn. As the city expanded, the Gate of Dawn started to become apart of the city centre.
There is no doubt that the Gate of Dawn is an exceptionally holy shrine with many miraculous cures and healings attributed to this shrine. The shrine is exceptionally important on our pilgrimage as it is 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. St. Faustina also saw the image of the Mother of Mercy come alive and Our Lady spoke beautiful words encouraging her to continue to fulfil the will of her son.
St. Faustina also saw the rays of Divine Mercy come from the Image of Divine Mercy and enter into the hearts of all present and then spread out over the whole world. We will have time to contemplate the importance of this Shrine, not only to the Lithuanians, but also within the context of the Devotion to Divine Mercy. It was customary in Vilnius while St. Faustina lived there to attend novenas and special Masses at the Gate of Dawn. In the Diary of St. Faustina, she makes many references to praying at the Gate of Dawn and before the beautiful image of the Mother of Mercy.
We will be lucky enough on this pilgrimage to attend Mass at this shrine and also have some time for prayer and personal reflection while at this shrine. The history and holiness of this shrine is palpable for the moment you visit the Gate of Dawn and it will be one of the shrines we will visit which will make a long lasting impression on you.