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The Altar of the Crucifixion and the side altars

Nukryžiuojo altorius. Arnoldo Stasiulio fotografijaThe Altar of the Crucifixion, which is the main altar, is the religious nucleus of the church’s whole interior. It is also, at the same time, the most important station on the Way of Cross (number 32), commemorating the Saviour’s death on the Cross. The altar stands close to the back wall of presbytery and takes almost all its space. The first level of the altarpiece contains a 17th century Crucifix that is famed for special graces. Among the columns on either side stand four statues, which represent the persons who took part in the removal from the Cross and burial of Jesus Christ’s body: the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John, St Nicodemus and St Joseph of Arimathea. 

A painting of St Helen holding the Cross adorns the smaller, simpler upper level of the altar scene. The architectonics of the main altar is closely related to the paintings of the presbytery vault: the Eye of God that foresees everything, which is painted above the altar, is the final point of the architectural structure, so- called “Gloria”, at the same time uniting Crucifix with above painted “Veraikon” and the upper painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, glorified by angels and surrounded by the garland of thorns. Raised their eyes from Crucifix and The Passion believers are encouraged to recollect the love and mercy of Jesus. The main altar is the most important station on the Way of Cross, commemorating the Redeemer’s death. So believers are even more induced to grasp the identity of Christ’s death and the Eucharist and to feel Jesus existence “here and now”.

People have long considered the Crucifixion sculpture over the main altar to be miraculous. Many extraordinary graces have been associated with it. During the major fire in the church, the figure of the Crucified Christ is said to have turned black from the smoke but to have miraculously avoided being consumed by the flames. Some 60 votive offerings are reported to have hung beside the image in the second half of the 18th century. A lot of votive offerings are also seen in the pictures of the end of the 19th century. The Latin inscription above the sculpture “Non istum Christum sed Christum crede per istum” reminds that true source of grace is the Lord Himself, but not Him representing sculpture. In the 18th century the Dominicans encouraged devotion to Christ Crucified by distributing pictures with graphic representations of this image.

Not only the main altar but the Altar of Thoughtful Jesus was devoted for the Passion of Christ. It is possible to pray before a relic of the Holy Cross displayed at the side Altar of Mother of Sorrows.

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