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The path of the Virgin Mary

Usually the walking of the Stations starts at the introductory chapel of the Virgin of Sorrows though the Room of the Last Supper marks the first Station. The devotion to the Mother of God is a key in many Calvaries of the 17th century. The apocryphal tradition had it, that the Mother of God was the first to cover the ground of Her Son’s journey to Calvary. Often the Stations of the Cross included the stations of the Mother of Sorrows, walked in the reverse direction.

The Calvary of Vilnius continues the tradition: the path of the Virgin Mary includes 12 stations, starting with the Sepulcher and walking back to the Room of the Last Supper. The Guide of 1826 also refers to the four-station way of the Virgin Mary’s Funeral, which started with the so-called Abode of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Death (most probably, it is now called the Chapel of the Mother of Sorrows) and proceeded through the Gate of Water and the bridge to the chapel of the Virgin’s burial. The believers praying for a happy death or the salvation of the souls in Purgatory walked this route.

Yet in Vilnius Calvary the role of the Mother of God never reached the extent of the Calvary in Samogitia or many Polish Calvaries. All attention focuses on the Crucified Christ and the Holy Cross. The relationships of all the structures and a skilful exploitation of the natural features work together in a unique manner to reveal this semantic focus of the Via Crucis in Vilnius.

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