Gate of Dawn

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The Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, the chapel of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn is in the middle behind the glass window
Southern side of the gate
The icon of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros vartai), or Sharp Gate (Polish: Ostra Brama, Belarusian: Вострая Брама, Russian: Острая брама) is a city gate in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and one of its most important religious, historical and cultural monuments.


It was built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city of Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It has also been known as the Medininkai Gate, as it led to the village Medininkai south of Vilnius as well as Aštra broma, which derivative for the Lithuanian language word aštra meaning sharp.[1] Of ten city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed by the order of the government at the end of the 18th century.[2]

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn[edit]

In the 16th century city gates often contained religious artifacts intended to guard the city from attacks and to bless travelers. The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers.[3] For centuries the picture has been one of the symbols of the city and an object of veneration for both Roman Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants. Thousands of votive offerings adorn the walls and many pilgrims from neighboring countries come to pray in front of the beloved painting. Masses are held in Lithuanian and Polish languages.

After World War II the cult of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn prevailed in Lithuanian and Polish communities worldwide and is continued in many shrines to the Virgin Mary in Europe, and the Americas. The largest of the churches devoted to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn is St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk, Poland.

The shrine is also important in the development of the devotion Divine Mercy as it is the first place where the Image of Divine Mercy was exposed for the first time and also where the first celebration of the Feast of Mercy took place.[4]

On September 4, 1993 Pope John Paul II said Rosary at the Gate of Dawn Chapel. Church festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy—celebrated in the third week of November—is of great importance in the Vilnius Archdiocese.



  1. ^ Jurginis, Juozas (1987). Aušros vartai. Pokalbiai su tikinčiuoju (in Lithuanian) (2nd ed.). Vilnius: Mintis. pp. 3–37. OCLC 19353894. Archived from the original on 2014-11-09.
  2. ^ "The Gates of Dawn", Lithuanian State Department of Tourism
  3. ^ "The Gate of Dawn", Travel Lithuania
  4. ^ "The Gate of Dawn - Vilnius", Catholic Chaplaincy: University of Glasgow

Image gallery[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Gate of Dawn at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 54°40′28″N 25°17′22″E / 54.67444°N 25.28944°E / 54.67444; 25.28944