The icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy (Holy Mother of Vostraja Brama) Photo © Ê. Øàñòî¢ñê³ |
Gate of Dawn in VilniusGate of Dawn (Belarusian: Âîñòðàÿ Áðàìà - Vostraja Brama, Lithuanian: Aušros Vartai, Polish: Ostra Brama) was built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city of Vilnia (Vilnius), the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The name-sake for the gate was the borough of Vostry Kaniec to which the gate initially led. Other name-sake goes to the name of Grand Hetman of Lithuania Kanstancin Astrožski. It has also been known as the Miedniki Gate as it lead to the Miedniki (Medininkai) village south of Vilnius on the modern border with Belarus. From the Vostraja Brama lays the straight way to Belarus. The Gate of Dawn is the only remaining out of nine city gates, while the others were destroyed by the order of the government at the end of the 18th century.
In the 16th century city gates often contained religious artefacts intended to guard the city from attacks and to bless travellers. The Vostraja Brama Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains a renowned miraculous icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy. For centuries the picture has been one of the symbols of the city and an object of praise of both Roman Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants. Thousands of votive offerings adorn the walls and many pilgrims from neighbouring countries come to pray in front of the beloved painting.
On September 4, 1993 Pope John Paul II said Rosary at the Vostraja Brama (Gate of Dawn) Chapel. Church festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy – celebrated in the third week of November.
After the World War II the cult of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn prevailed in Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian communities worldwide and is continued in many shrines to the Virgin Mary in Europe, and the Americas.