Monday, February 2, 2009

Hill of Crosses

This former fort hill in northern Lithuania is estimated to have around 50,000 crosses erected on it. Its origins are unclear but the tradition of planting crosses on the hill may have begun after the 1831 Catholic uprising against the occupying Russian empire, and it has come to symbolise the resilience of Lithuanian Catholicism in the face of centuries of oppression. The hill has survived not only Russian occupation but also attempts by the Soviet Union to destroy it during their 46 year occupation - they bulldozed it three times.

The hill's collection of objects includes crosses, giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary, tiny effigies and rosaries and it is still a popular site of pilgrimage with Catholics who bring their own crosses to deposit. In 1993 the Pope himself visited the site and a plaque commemorating the visit remains today.

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