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The Hill of Crosses

Location: N56° 0` 55.00", E23° 25` 0.00" | Website: kryziukalnas.lt/

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Approximately 12 kilometres north of Šiauliai, near Šiauliai - Riga railway line, there is a not very large, elongated hill standing in the field, sunken in the middle, and densely set with crosses. This is the famous Hill of Crosses also known as Jurgaičiai (Domantai) mound. For more than one hundred and fifty years it attracts pilgrims who want to link their lives with faith. 

It was prohibited to build crosses during Tsarist and Soviet occupation. However, the bans only encouraged people to persevere, even valiantly witness their faith in the redemptive power of the cross. Pilgrims were persecuted especially fiercely during the Soviet occupation, and the hill itself was repeatedly withdrawn and demolished, overthrowing all the crosses. People used to build up crosses at night, they carried them in spite of the dangers, prohibitions and persecutions. The Hill became a symbol of the heroic resistance of the suppression of religious freedom. 

Pope John Paul II prayed and offered the Holy Mass by the Hill of Crosses on 7th September, 1993. Holy Father's visit to the Hill of Crosses became famous all over the world, especially because John Paul II many times on different occasions mentioned in his speech about the great impression the Hill of Crosses had made on him. 

People visit the Hill and build crosses throughout the year. The Franciscan monastery stands next to the Hill. Masses are offered up there. A special day for worshippers is the Feast taking place on the Hill of Crosses on the last Sunday of July. 

Franciscan monastery near the Hill of Crosses. In autumn 1993, just a few weeks after his arrival in Lithuania, during a visit to Italy, Mount La Verna Franciscan monastery, Pope John Paul II encouraged the friars to build the Hill of Crosses monastery. Soon the Franciscans responded to the Pope's exhortation. The foundation stone was cut from the mountain of the monastery of La Verna. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II, the capsule with the documents of the incorporation of the monastery are protected in the stone. The Franciscan brothers of the Tuscan province helped to build the building, standing at 300 meters from the Hill of Crosses. It was solemnly consecrated on 8 July 2000. 

The monastery is equipped with a dozen of cells, a chapel and a library. The chapel is adorned with Algirdas Dovydėnas’ stained glass on the subject of Franciscan religious history, expressive altar, tabernacle and the pulpit (the author is artist Rimantas Sakalauskas). Altar reliefs reveal the interface of the Hill of Crosses and La Verna mount. When praying on this mountain St. Francis received the stigmata - the wounds of Christ. 

Lithuanian St. Casimir provincial novitiate is located in this Order of Friars Minor (OFM - Franciscan). At the same time Franciscan brothers are like guardians of the Hill of Crosses. Worshippers wishing to concentrate can find shelter in silence in the monastery. The Hill of Crosses convent chapel is open 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. 

The Tourist Information Centre branch of "The Hill of Crosses" Jurgaičiai village, Meškuičiai, Šiauliai district,
Tel. (41) 370860, email: turizmas@siauliai-r.sav.lt