Šiluva

Šiluva is a small town including approximately 1300 citizens in Raseiniai district. It is one of 5 European cities where the appearing of Blessed Virgin Mary is officially accredited. The town is often attended by pilgrims. Each year at the start of September the largest feast days  in Lithuania are held there. Pilgrims traditionally walk to Šiluva. Walking distances reach 70 km or more, but long walk does not scary churchgoers.

Early records of 1457  have mentioned this place due to the construction of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary over here. A local landlord Gedgaudas built this church and he even installed a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Along the sixteenth century, Calvinism entered this region. The church used to draw pilgrims from as far off as Prussia where Protestantism was the ruling religion of the state. As a result, fights started and the beautiful church was destroyed. In 1622 that Catholics were finally granted the permission to construct a church made of wood for themselves. After this, people started attending the rituals and participating in the festivities held at the church in Šiluva.

The then ruling Tsarist Government wanted to construct a church that was orthodox right in front of this small church. However, all their attempts were thwarted when a priest decided to buy up the whole area and erected a statue brought from St Petersburg of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Soviet monument then replaced the statue in the Town Square in later years. However, towards the end of the year 1981, Lithuania was entrusted to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin by Mary Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius and the Chairman of the Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis. Two years after that, this spot in Šiluva became very famous when the Pope John Paul II visited this place and said his prayers in the chapel of the Appearance. The church in Šiluva represents the Basilica of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is the fourth one constructed in the same spot to this day. The honorary title of basilica minor was given to the church in Šiluva by Pope Paul II.