Krikščionių piligrimystėPiligrimystė Lietuvoje
Į pirmą puslapį
Jonas Paulius II ir Lietuva
Jono Pauliaus II piligrimų kelias
Do not be afraid, my friends, to open the door to Christ! He knows the human heart…
John Paul II, Lithuania

Visit to Lithuania

Lithuania had only recently regained independence when Pope John Paul II came to visit in 1993, from September 4 to 8, becoming the first pope in history to do so. During his stay the Holy Father reflected deeply on the motto of the trip through the Baltic region: “Let us give witness to Christ who has set us free”. He accented the fact that freedom is inseparable from responsibility.

On September 4, John Paul II prayed beside the remains of St Casimir, Patron of Lithuania, in the Vilnius Cathedral Basilica. There he also met with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, whom he reminded that evangelization, even in conditions of freedom “will always be like the Cross of Christ, that Cross which rises above sanctuaries and must be impressed upon the heart of every believer.”

In the evening, the Holy Father prayed the Rosary at the Gate of Dawn in an act that was broadcast around the world. He spoke about the Dawn Gate shrine’s significance in his life, and about how he had longed to come here just after becoming pope but was unable to do so. “Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “return to your homes with hearts full of the hope that life will conquer death, light darkness, and freedom captivity.”

The morning of September 5, John Paul II took part in an ecumenical gathering at the Apostolic Nunciature and then prayed at Antakalnis Cemetery by the graves of people who had lost their lives during Lithuania’s recent struggle to regain independence from the Soviet Union. “I come, o Lord, as a pilgrim of peace and hope, and here by the graves of Lithuania’s most recent martyrs, of their predecessors and their old adversaries, I announce faith in You and in our resurrection,” the Pope said. He prayed for “the strength of love to renew faith and to reject the temptation of revenge,” asking God that alongside these crosses there might spring up “shoots of charity, hope and forgiveness,” and that the Lord’s Cross might shed its light on all other crosses.

The same morning, the pope celebrated Holy Mass in Vilnius’s Vingis Park. He spoke there about the true nature of Baptism, about the importance of the duties that flow from this Sacrament and about discovering the Holy Spirit inside oneself as a source of unity. He personally baptized 10 young women and men who had not received the gift of Baptism as children.

During an afternoon meeting with the diplomatic corps at the Apostolic Nunciature, John Paul II recalled that “political forces should always keep in mind the spiritual values contained in the Christian message.” He urged Lithuanian Catholics to serve their homeland responsibly and generously in its political, economic and social institutions.
Meeting later with Lithuanian intellectuals at the Church of Sts John in Vilnius, John Paul II stressed the responsibility of workers in the world of culture to ensure “that the intellect not be cut off from the paths that lead toward mystery.” He stressed the ethical principles of upright reasoning and encouraged intercourse between faith and culture as well as ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

In the evening, the Pope met at the Church of the Holy Spirit with members of the Polish community. He urged them to turn to Christ who is “the best path to the future”, “the only Truth” and “the fullness of life”. The Holy Father reflected on Blessed Faustina Kowalska (now St Faustina), who lived in Vilnius and spread devotion to the Divine Mercy. “Learn from this humble and faithful Servant of God in every circumstance to be children of your Heavenly Father, dedicated disciples of the Incarnate Word and docile instruments of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

On September 6, Pope John Paul II visited Kaunas. During Holy Mass at the confluence of Lithuania’s two largest rivers, the Holy Father spoke about the action of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth, recalling that the Holy Spirit works through the human person, whose spirit it invigorates. This makes possible the renewal of personal, family and social life.
Meeting at midday with the Lithuanian Bishops Conference, the Holy Father urged the local pastors to give priority to the evangelization of their communities. He said it was important to constantly improve the quality of religious instruction and to renewing as appropriate the programmes for the formation of future priests. Lay people, too, needed formation in order to be more effective apostles, he noted, encouraging support for lay ecclesiastical movements and particular attention to young people, as well as adult and family education.

In a gathering with 30,000 young people at Darius and Girėnas Stadium in Kaunas, the Pope said he yearned for them to be happy, and he urged them to avoid paths of immorality, to cherish the Word of God in the depths of their being, to frequent the sacraments and to rely on the Church. The Holy Father expressed his hope that these young people would be active in the Church, strong and burning with a holy zeal.

On September 7, John Paul II celebrated a Mass at the Hill of Crosses, where he turned his attention to the mystery of the Cross. He called the Cross “a source of blessing given to us by Divine Providence, a sign of reconciliation” that gives sense to suffering, illness and pain. At the same time, according to the Pope, the Cross is an “exaltation”, which raises us up and opens our eyes to “enormous horizons”. It is a sign of God’s love for the world and a sign of eternal life in God, he said. Largely due to the Pope’s presence and words at the Hill of Crosses, since then the site has drawn ever growing numbers of pilgrims from around the world.

At Šiluva the same day, on the last stop of his trip, the Holy Father briefly prayed in private at the Apparition Chapel and then led a celebration of the Liturgy of the Word in the Basilica. He reflected on the nature of true peace, encouraged people to be followers of Mary in faith and life, thanked Mary in the name of the Lithuanian people for having interceded to bring about “the hour of resurrection and hope”, and asked her to help “transform the painful experience of the past into a joyful future.”