Basilian Monastery Gate Ausros Vartu Street
In Ausros Vartu Street, just beyond the Philharmonic building is a striking masterpiece of late Baroque architecture – the elegant gate of the Basilian Monastery, built in 1761 according to a design by Johann Christoph Glaubitz. The relief composition of the Holy Trinity on the pediment anticipates the name of the courtyard sanctuary. Construction of the church and monastery started on the site where, according to legend, three of Duke Algirdas’ courtiers, Anthony, John and Eustatius were hung from an oak tree.
Algirdas’ wife Julianne built a wooden Orthodox church in their memory in 1347. The present-day church descended from one built in 1514 by Constantine Ostrogsky. In 1608-1827 it belonged to the Uniate Basilian monks. The monastery held a prison at the beginning of the 19th century.
Incarcerated in its cells were members of the Philaret and Philomat movement. These included the poet Adam Mickiewicz and Ignacy Domeyko, who later emigrated to South America and became Chile’s first minister of education. Mickiewicz’s cell is known by the name of the “Conrad Cell” after the principal character in his poem, Forefathers’ eve.
|Address||Ausros Vartu Street 7, Vilnius Old Town|
Russian Orthodox Church in Ausros Vartu Street
Relics of the three martyrs Anthony, John and Eustatius are kept in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit – Lithuania’s principal Orthodox sanctuary. Sources show that building of a monastery and church started here in the mid-16th century.
The present-day edifice dates from 1638, and Glaubitz it in 1749-1753. In its form, the church’s elaborate rococo iconostasis is reminiscent of a Catholic altar. Every June 26th, the faithful celebrate the transfer of the relics of the three martyrs.
|Address||Ausros Vartu gatve 10, Vilnius Old Town|
|Telephone||+370 5 212 7765|
Church of St. Theresa Vilnius
Continuing towards Ausros Gate, one passes the Church of St. Theresa of Avila. This is an example of early Baroque, built with funds from vice-chancellor Stephen Pac in 1633-1650 according to a design by the Italian architect Constantino Tencalla. The Discalced Carmelites were responsible for building the church.
The Discalced Carmelites is the Order reformed by St Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross in Spain, the members of which obey the strict monastic ‘rule' of St Albert and their proper Constitution. These monks were the most known in the field of mystic theology.
The writings of St Theresa and St John of the Cross are informative masterpieces on mysticism up to these days. In 1626, the Discalced Carmelites came to Vilnius and in 1737 they established the Lithuanian province of St Casimir. In 1760-1764, Motiejus Sluščianskis from Vilnius decorated the church's interior with the frescoes representing the life and activities of St Theresa.
Church of St Therese after the uprising
After the uprisings of 1831 and 1864, the tsarist authorities closed all the monasteries that belonged to the Discalced Carmelite Order. Later, in pre-war Lithuania, the monasteries were restored again. Its interior is resplendent with 18th century ornamentation – wall murals, sculptures and relief work which form an intricate expression of the tradition of Carmelite devotion.
The church has works by painters Szymon Czechowicz, Kanuty Rusiecki, and others. The adjacent Monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites houses a spiritual center, and a guest house.
|Address||Ausros Vartu gatve 14, Vilnius Old Town|
|Telephone||+370 5 212 3513|
Gates of Ausros Vartu
The remaining short fragment of Ausros Vartu Street runs along the Church of St. Theresa and ends at a gateway crowned by the most famous and beloved of Vilnius sanctuaries – a tiny chapel with a painting of the Mother of God . The gateway, one of five in the wall erected around the city in the beginning of the 16th century, led to Medininkai, and is mentioned in historical sources in 1514. According to sources the wall began at Ausros Vartu and encircled an area of 85 ha.
Outside it lay the 15th century suburbs of Uzupis, Antakalnis, Lukiskes, and Rasos, and the domains of the surrounding estates. The name “Ausros” (“of the dawn”) accompanied the spread of the cult of the Mother of God, and is probably associated with the image of Mary as the “dawn star”.
Painting of the Mother of God Vilnius
The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, acknowledged miraculous in the mid-17th century, dates from 1620-1630. It was rendered in tempera on oak planks after a design by the 16th century Flemish artist Marten de Vos. It was later painted over in oil. Its magnificent gilded silver raiment appeared in the 18th century after the Carmelites became responsible for the care of the painting. The friars built a wooden, later a brick, chapel for the painting above the Medininku gate.
The chapel acquired its present form in 1715. In 1829 it was given neo-classicist features, the Eye of Providence inside a triangular pediment. A Latin inscription “Mater Misericordiae, sub Tuum Praesidium confugimus” (“Mother of Mercy, we pray for your protection“) appeared on the façade around the same time. An eight-day church festival known as the “Great Protection” is held in November in honour of the Mother of Mercy of Ausros Gate.
In 1927 the painting got crowns blessed by the Pope. About 8,000 silver votive objects dedicated to the Mother of God cover the chapel walls in return for her intercession and protection. During his visit to Lithuania in 1993 Pope John Paul II led the rosary prayers in the Ausros Gate Chapel.