On our pilgrimage we will have an opportunity to visit Siluva, which is the first apparition site of Our Lady in Europe in 1608. In order to appreciate the holiness of this religious site, it is necessary to know its history.


Lithuania was actually one of the last European countries to accept Christianity. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 13th Century when Christianity began to be celebrated in Lithuania. Catholicism has thrived in Lithuania ever since. In 1475, a young man called Peter Giedgaudas, a diplomat for Vytautas the Great, built the first church in Siluva and officially gave it to the Catholic Church. Later, he  returned from a visit to Rome with a large picture of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus, which was put in the sanctuary of the new church.

Fifty years later, the Calvinist heresies swept through Europe and many of the leaders of Lithuania converted to it. Unfortunately, in 1532, the governor of Siluva also converted and forced his new beliefs on the people of Siluva. He outlawed Catholicism and claimed the church land for the Calvinist church. In 1532, the parish priest was Fr. John Holubka and when Catholism was banned he got an iron box and placed all the church belongings including the Image of Our Lady and all his Catholic documents into it.  He then buried it in a field near a rock as a marker for the future recovery. Calvinist would remain the norm in the village of Siluva for the next seventy six years.


Then in 1608, one sunny summer’s day, some children were playing in the fields near the rock. Suddenly they heard the sound of sobbing and they turned to see a beautiful young woman, standing on the rock, holding a baby in her arms, crying. The children said she was crying so much that some of the tears fell on the rock. This apparition shocked the children and they ran and told their parents and then the local Calvinist pastor.

Although the Calvinist Pastor did not believe them, news of the apparition spread very quickly through Siluva. The following day a large group of people gathered near the rock. The Calvinist minister heard about the gathering and decided to go to the site to re-assure the crowd. While they were all gathered there, Our Lady reappeared again holding the child Jesus in her arms and crying profusely. This apparition shocked the people present including the Pastor who asked Our Lady who she was and why she was crying. Our Lady said, she was the mother of Jesus. then she said  “There was a time when this was precious to me and I was worshipped here by the people. But then they were prevented,  Why?

The news of this apparition spread thoughout Lithuania very quickly. A very old blind man heard this story and recalled a night  eighty years before, when he helped the priest to bury an iron box in the field. With the help of some friends, he was taken to the apparition site. As soon as he reached the site, his eyesight returned. This miracle shocked everyone present and he immediately pointed to the spot near the rock where he had helped the priest bury the iron box. The box, contained all the legal documents which also proved that the ground belonged to the Catholic Church. It also contained the Image of Our Lady which was perfectly preserved. After this apparition, thousands of people converted back to the Catholic Faith and Siluva became a pilgrimage site thereafter. It is estimated that over 11,000 people attended a celebration of the nativity there ten years later. The Vatican formally recognised the apparition in 1775 when Pope Leo issued a Papal Decree. It was also one of the main sites visited by Pope John Paul II when he toured Lithuania.

Siluva has remained a Catholic village ever since, in spite of the Russians best efforts to destroy the faith of the village. When we visit Siluva, there is an opportunity to visit the church where the Image of Our Lady with the child Jesus is displayed as well as see the other religious items, including the old iron box, which were all perfectly preserved even though buried for almost 400 years ago. They have also built a church around the rock in Siluva. 

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