It is especially important to enjoy a sense of community in these difficult days. As such, Vilnius’ Archbishop Gintaras Grušas will lead this year’s Divine Mercy Sunday mass, which will be celebrated in English and broadcast live to 80 countries on EWTN www.ewtn.com. The mass will start on 19 April at 5 p.m. GMT+3 (please check the schedule in the link for the time in your region). EWTN will also broadcast a documentary later that day exploring the history of the original Image of Divine Mercy, from the events that led to its creation under St. Faustina Kowalska's guidance, to its current place in the Church of the Divine Mercy in Vilnius.
The world-famous painting of the Merciful Jesus, known as the Image of Divine Mercy, is one of the most well-known and venerated paintings in the Catholic Church, famous for the grace it bestows on visitors. Eugene Kazimirowski painted it in 1934 in Vilnius according to the visions of Saint Faustina. Copies of the painting soon spread around the world and today the image is widely used; however, the original hangs in the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius. Hidden for many years, the original Image of Divine Mercy was only rediscovered and restored within the last 16 years, and can now be appreciated in its full splendour.
Vilnius, often called a City of Divine Mercy by pilgrims, was an important place for sister Faustina Kowalska, who experienced visions and revelations of Jesus and had conversations with him while living in the city. The Chapel of the Divine Mercy that has spread all over the world was also dictated to Sister Faustina in Vilnius. Pope John Paul II canonised Sister Faustina in 2000, on Divine Mercy Sunday.
You don’t need to travel to Vilnius to participate in the mass or to see the famous Image of Divine Mercy for yourself. A 3D model of the Shrine of Divine Mercy and the painting itself is available to explore online at: www.divinemercy3d.com. You can take a 360° virtual tour and even a VR journey. It is especially relevant today when pilgrimage journeys must find new roads. The model was created to commemorate the recent visit of Pope Francis, and the cutting-edge technology mirrors every inch of both the Shrine and Image of Divine Mercy.
Almost all of Lithuania’s history can be told in its churches, so it’s no surprise that the country has a deep tradition as a pilgrimage destination. Vilnius is special because the main Christian denominations are clearly visible on the narrow streets of the Old Town – there are Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Lutheran churches, Greek Catholic prayer houses and more.
The UNESCO-listed Old Town is a perfect place to explore the city’s sacral history. The path of Mercy found here begins with the special works of St. Faustina, who lived in Vilnius and spread the message of God’s Mercy to the world, and allows you to follow various pilgrimage routes, including the Route of St. Pope John Paul II, the Way of Saint James, the Calvary Way of the Crosses, and many others.