Christian PilgrimagePilgrimages in LithuaniaJohn Paul II and Lithuania

Hail Mary, Mother of Fair Love!
Vytauto Kandroto fotografija

Mother of Fair Love Painting

The painting known as the Mother of Fair Love, or more popularly, the Camaldolese Mother of God, was given as a gift by Pope Alexander VII to the founding patron of the Pažaislis church in 1661. The image initially was hung at the Visitation Church’s choir altar, but now embellishes the main altar.

Painted by an unknown Dutch artist on an oval canvas in the first half of the 17th century, the image portrays Mary seated and holding the Child Jesus on her knees. The looks on their faces are warm and playful. The figures of Mary and the Child are surrounded by a garland of colourful flowers, above all roses –symbols of the “Hail Mary” prayer. The artwork combines divers Marian iconographic styles, joining a modified Byzantine “Tender Mother” format with that of Mary in a flower wreath.

During World War I, Orthodox believers took the Camaldolese Mother of God with them when they fled to Russia. It was returned to the care of the Sisters of St Casimir at Pažaislis in 1928. Later, during the Soviet years, as the monastery changed hands time and again, the image was transferred to the Kaunas Cathedral Basilica. It was stolen from there in 1978 but, after a campaign of intense prayer by devoted souls, was recovered in 1979. A few years later, restoration work was done on the painting. The Mother of Fair Love image was returned to the church at Pažaislis in the year 2000.