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Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses is situated 12 km (7.5 mi) North of ┼áiaulia. This unique site has numerous legends surrounding. The origin of placing the crosses according to some accounts date back to 1831 then Russian Empire defeated Polish and Lithuanian rebellions who defended Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort established here. The families of the dead soldiers could not find the bodies of their relatives so they gathered all crosses on a single hill that represented a massive burial.

 

 

Location: 12 km (7.5 mi) North of ┼áiauliai   Map

 

 

 

Another legend date the origin of Hill of Crosses to 14th century then Roman Catholic Church finally took over the region and baptized everyone to Christianity. The hill that once served as pagan temple received its first cross. This was a common practice for Catholic priests to erect crosses over places that once were sacred to polytheistic religions. Another legend claim that in 1870's a Virgin Mary appeared here and naturally pilgrims brought their crosses to the hill. Some claim that the first cross was brought here by a father those daughter disappeared. He set a cross, prayed over it and upon returning home discovered his lost child back in wife's arms.

 

Whatever the true origin of the Hill of Crosses might be it is certain that it gained great notoriety in the 20th century as a symbol of struggle of Christians against atheistic Soviet government that tried everything in their power to wipe out faith of millions of people in Lithuania as well as other republics of the former Soviet Union. By 1961 the hill counted over 5,000 crosses. Nikita Khrushchev who was a leader of Soviet Union at the time unleashed immense atheistic campaign against anyone who believed in God. Hill of Crosses became a logical target for atheistic fanatics. It was too famous for its own good in Lithuania as well as other countries of the Eastern Europe. Bulldozers wiped out all of the crosses, metal crosses were sold as scrape metal, wooden one were burned, and stone crosses were thrown into a river. Communists closed all roads to the hill and yet as soon as they removed all the crosses they started to reappear again. Local citizens were bringing them back at night. The attempts to remove the crosses from the hill were repeated in 1963 and in 1973. All had the same result. The crosses just started to appear every night. With arrival of Gorbachev the place began to recover. On September 7th, 1993 Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage was open near the site. Today over 100,000 crosses stand on the hill. Anyone who is willing to bring a cross is welcome to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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