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The gate of Dawn

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Phone No.: +370 5 212 3513
Email: rastine@ausrosvartai.lt
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Opening Hours: I-VII: 06.00-19.00
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The gate of Dawn is one of main symbols of Vilnius – a shrine for Catholics. Even several churches stand nearby this location, namely – the Basilian church with monastery, also church and monastery of the Holy Spirit, St. Theresa church and Carmelite monastery.

At first this gate was called by the name of Medininkai. The name was chosen because the path through this gate led to Minsk through Medininkai town. The gate of Dawn was the first gate, built at the same year as the defensive wall itself, in 1503 – 1522. This gate now contains a chapel for the painting of Mary the Mother of mercy, it was first documented in 1514 m.

It is not quite clear why the gate was called as the Dawn. It is assumed, that the name came from a word ‘sharp’ (in Lithuanian language Aušra (dawn) sounds similar to Aštrus (sharp)). This name could be explained because the gate stood at the southern part of the city that was called ‘sharp’.

The gate is squared, its masonry is gothic, walls around 2 – 2.5 meter thick. Holes for shooting can be seen on the southern side of the gate.

Chapel for the painting of the Mother of Mercy was not built instantly. At first this painting was hanged in a niche from the inside of the gate. There was no chapel, no decorations and no suitable conditions for a painting. It was like this up until the Carmelites moved to Vilnius in 1626. They got a site for their church just beside the gate of Dawn, therefore Vilnius government entrusted the painting of the Mother of Mercy for Carmelites in 1668. They built a wooden chapel to protect the painting.

Painting of the Mother of Mercy is very well known among Catholics all around the world. There are many copies of this painting spread around the globe. The renaissance painting is claimed to be painted around the beginning of 17th century. Unlike in most of other these kinds of paintings Blessed Virgin Mary is portrayed without her infant Jesus, instead her arms are crossed on her chest, gentle look pointed to the ground. Since mid-17th century this painting is considered to be miraculous. This portrayal of Madonna was renewed in 1993, just before the visit of Pope John Paul II. Almost a decade later, in 2002, whole chapel was reconstructed very carefully. This reconstruction revealed some décor details over-painted in 21st century.

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