On a small and remote hill in Central Lithuania there is a strange and inspiring place of pilgrimage, which has become a symbol of devotion and defiance in Eastern Europe.
Tens of thousands of crosses stand upon the hill.
Many stories are told of the origins of this site. Crosses first appeared here in the 14th century. During the Soviet era it was an arrestable offence to put a cross here and at least three times the Soviets had the site bulldozed. But the courageous faith of the Lithuanians prevailed and during the night people crept through the wires and began planting crosses again. The site has become a symbol of christian courage and faith.
Today there are large and tiny, wood and metal, expensive and home made, devotional and commemorative crosses next to one another. Some have inscriptions, or photographs pinned to them, on others rosaries or objects of devotion hang.
The lovely modern Franciscan monastery nearby helps emphasise that this is a special place, a place of pilgrimage and holiness in a remote setting.
I knelt down near the top of the hill and surrounded by thousands of crosses placed the small cross Dominic, Gregory and I had made from rose branches in our garden. As I thought of the courage and faith of the Lithuanians I prayed for my family and for St Chrysostom’s.