Franciscan Monastery at the Hill of Crosses

Jurgaičiai Village, Meškuičiai Eldership, Šiauliai District. Tel.: 8-41-527733

In the autumn of 1993, two weeks after his return from Lithuania, Pope John Paul II visited the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna in Italy and encouraged the Franciscan friars to build a monastery at the Hill of Crosses. The Franciscans immediately responded to the Pope’s urging. The project of a hermit of Franciscan Brothers was designed by the architects Angelo Polesello and Nunzio Rimmaudo; the construction was administered by A. Jukna, Chief Architect of Šiauliai District. The cornerstone of the monastery was cut out of Mount La Verna and consecrated by Pope John Paul II. The founding documents of the monastery have been encapsulated in the stone. The Franciscan Brothers of the Province of Tuscany contributed to the construction of the building standing 300 meters away from the Hill of Crosses. It was solemnly consecrated on 8 July 2000.

The monastery has a number of cells, a chapel, and a library. The chapel is decorated with the stained glass of Algirdas Dovydėnas, representing the history of Franciscan friars, an expressive altar, a tabernacle and a pulpit (author: painter Rimantas Sakalauskas). The reliefs of the altar reveal an interface between the Hill of Crosses and Mount La Verna. While he was praying on the Mountain of Verna, St. Francis received the Holy Stigmata, the wounds of Christ.

A novitiate of the Lithuanian Franciscan Province of St. Casimir was founded in the sanctuary of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM, Franciscans). The Franciscan Brothers at the same time serve as custodians of the Hill of Crosses. The monastery can shelter worshippers wishful of quiet moments of concentration.

The chapel of the Hill of Crosses Monastery is open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Hill of Crosses and La Verna link: the words pronounced by the Pope that the whole world, the whole secularizing Europe should go to pray to the Hill of Crosses and La Verna.

Works of Art of the Monastery and Their Authors

The monastery was designed by the architect Franciscan friar Angelo Polesello. The project was implemented by Leandro Rimmaudo Nunzio, the architect-restorer of the Sanctuary of La Verna. The altar of the Chapel of St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata, the tabernacle, and the pulpit of the monastery of the Hill of Crosses were created by sculptor Rimantas Sakalauskas. The author of the stained glass in the Chapel is Professor Algis Dovydėnas, Head of the Stained Glass Department of the Academy of Fine Arts. The stained glass on the left side of the Chapel depict moments from the lives of St. Francis and his first brothers, the stained glass on the right represents the origin of the Franciscan Order in Lithuania and the most important moments in their history. The author of the altar painting “The Sermon to the Birds by St. Francis” is a Lithuanian Jew, Leo Ray, currently residing in Tel Aviv. The altar cross is a replica of the San Damiano Cross. Brother Carlo Bertagnin of Italy created the icons “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata” and “Mary on the Throne” which are situated in the entrance porch of the Chapel. The sculptor Fabrizio Giannini created the bronze sculpture “St. Francis in Ecstasy” which is located in the courtyard of the monastery. Gintautas Kurmanskis’ Enterprise “Šiaulių kalviai” forged the Chapel gates and other iron works in the monastery and around it.

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Photos used in this site were made by Zigmas Ripinskis
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