Saturday, April 20, 2019

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

Kryžių kalnas, "The Hill of Crosses" is 12 km (7,5 miles) north of Šiauliai and the reason I went there yesterday.  

There are thousands of metal and wooden crosses, and rosaries, here; something like 200,000.

Crosses started being placed here back in 1831.  The crosses were left there to mourn relatives lost in revolts against the Russian Empire.

During Soviet times the communists banned religion and the site was off limits.  But that didn't stop crosses from appearing.  In 1961 the authorities had the entire place bulldozed and burned down.  Yet the crosses kept coming back.
The Soviet authorities destroyed the site at least four more times and people risked KGB patrols to place crosses back on the hill at night.

After Lithuania gained independence it became a symbol of religious freedom and a pilgrimage site.  In 1993, Pope John Paul II delivered mass here. 

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