Šiauliai Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul

The Šiauliai Cathedral is one of the most visited by pilgrims prayer house in Lithuania. There is nothing to be surprised about: located really close to the main center of pilgrimage attraction, the Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai Cathedral is almost always visited by pilgrims for confession after their visit to Hill of Crosses. Or wise versa,  a nice tradition there is being kept by pilgrims to come to Šiauliai Cathedral to pray and after that go on foot to the Hill of Crosses (11,5 kilometers).

There are many legends nowadays telling why the Cathedral was built in the place it is located now. One of the most popular ones tells that once upon a time there came a big bull and sat down to sleep for a while. However, he never though woke up, thus winds blew  sands and a new hill here appeared which looked pretty attractive to build a church on.

The first wooden version of nowadays Šiauliai Cathedral was built in 1445 by a samogit Kesgaila. In the 17th century a new mason church here was erected. The newly build church was named the Church of St. Peter and Paul. It only was declared to be a Cathedral in 1997 after the pope John Paul II visited it. When it was built, it accurately reflected architectural tendencies of these times. And still, till nowadays the Cathedral represents the renaissance epoch better than any other building in Lithuania. As well as then, the same it is today that the Cathedral makes an impression as a huge defensive building  including original architectural elements. That are typical renaissance traditions implemented: treasures of sacral buildings attracted many robbers so they had to be kept safely. The Church of St. Peter and Paul also distinguished in including a mechanic clock which was installed into its façade tower. Such kind of clock was a pretty rare phenomenon in Lithuania then, however, a lightning struck into the tower in 1880 and destroyed the famous clock.  But the biggest damage for the church was done by human, not by nature forces. During both World Wars the Church suffered destructions for many times. It was battle – tried, burnt, robbed… In 1944 the building looked very miserably… But years passed by, several stages of reconstruction works were implemented. Thus today the church looks beautiful again.

Despite those many changes that were made to the interior and exterior of the Cathderal, nowadays it still astonishes visitors with its beauty. The nave and a presbytery are decorated with cylindrical arches and ribs. Renaissance fragments decorate the door of sacristy. The main altar that was built in 1975 is decorated with moderate neo baroque forms. The exterior is also particular. On the southern façade of the Cathedral there is a sun clock. According to historical sources it is one of the oldest sun clocks in Lithuania. Gates of the churchyard of the Šiauliai Cathedral are the only one of its type left in Lithuania as there are authentic defensive turrets located in the gates structure.

Every year the last Sunday of July is a special day for hundreds of pilgrims here. People are walking to the Hill of Crosses for a religious feast singing canticles, telling one`s beds. In addition, there is a nice tradition to carry a cross from the Šiauliai Cathedral to the Hill of Crosses every year at an International Life Day and the Children`s Defense Day. Thus the Šiauliai Cathedral unites 3 important dimensions: religion, art and social life.


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