Monday, April 05, 2010
Hill of Crosses in Lithuania
While watching a movie about Arthur Blessit: he visited the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. What a remarkable place. It is a pilgrimage site about 12 km north of the city Šiauliai. In an area of about 200 yards by 70 yards there are thousands (estimated 100,000) of crosses: large, huge, small and tiny one hanging on the others. Also giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. It started after an uprising in 1831. Over the centuries, the place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it faced throughout history. After the 3rd partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire. Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. These two uprisings are connected with the beginnings of the hill: as families could not locate bodies of perished rebels, they started putting up symbolic crosses in place of a former hill fort. When the old political structure of Eastern Europe fell apart in 1918, Lithuania once again declared its independence. Throughout this time, the Hill of Crosses was used as a place for Lithuanians to pray for peace, for their country, and for the loved ones they had lost during the Wars of Independence. Soviet Occupation Most recently, the site took on a special significance during the years 1944–1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Continuing to travel to the Hill and leave their tributes, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. It was a venue of peaceful resistance, although the Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses (estimated over 7,000), and bulldozed the site at least three times (including attempts in 1963 and 1973). There were even rumors that the authorities planned to build a dam on the nearby Kulvė River, a tributary to Mūša, so that the hill would end up under water. Credit to Wikipedia Here is a Google Earth KMZ file for it. Lithuania Hill of Crosses.kmz You must download (free) and install Google Earth to view it. When you view it in Google Earth make sure to turn on the Panoramio layer; there are dozens of photos linked over the aerial photo. If you have trouble with the Google Earth link or usage leave a comment. I haven't done such linking before.