Lithuania, Vilnius: The Shrine of Divine Mercy and the Original Image of Divine Mercy

The Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius, Lithuania, is a beacon of spirituality and an emblem of the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on God’s infinite mercy. This Shrine is particularly significant for its housing of the original Divine Mercy image, inspired by St. Faustina Kowalska’s visions of Jesus Christ. In this article, we will delve into some fun facts about this awe-inspiring place and its theological, cultural, and historical significance.

The Image was Painted under Direct Supervision from St. Faustina Kowalska

The original Divine Mercy image that resides in the Shrine was painted under the close supervision of St. Faustina herself. According to her diary, Jesus Christ appeared to her during her prayers and instructed her to paint an image that depicted his merciful countenance. St. Faustina was not an artist, but she entrusted the task to a painter named Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, who completed it in 1934.

Theological Significance

This close supervision ensures that the image adheres strictly to the theological vision that St. Faustina reported. It serves as a concrete manifestation of Christ’s divine mercy, which is central to the Roman Catholic faith. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners” (CCC 1846).

Rays of Light: Explaining the Colors

The original image features Jesus Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand touching his heart. From his heart spring two rays of light, one red and one white.

Theological Significance

St. Faustina reported that Jesus himself explained the colors: the red ray symbolizes his blood, which gives life to souls, and the white ray symbolizes the water that purifies souls (Diary of St. Faustina, 299). This echoes the Catholic teaching that the blood and water flowing from Christ’s pierced heart symbolize the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism, respectively. Jesus’ words during the Last Supper, as recorded in the Bible, affirm, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Devotees often recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the Shrine. This series of prayers uses a standard set of rosary beads and focuses on the mercy of God.

Theological Significance

The Chaplet emphasizes the Catholic teaching on the need for God’s mercy and the importance of trusting in Christ. St. Faustina’s diary records that Jesus told her, “Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you. […] Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death” (Diary of St. Faustina, 687). This can be paralleled with the Church’s teaching that “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).

Annual Feast of Divine Mercy

The Shrine witnesses a considerable influx of pilgrims every year on Divine Mercy Sunday, which occurs on the first Sunday after Easter.

Theological Significance

The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday helps to extend the joyous reflections of Easter Sunday by emphasizing Christ’s ever-merciful nature. Pope John Paul II, who canonized St. Faustina, also established this feast. The Catechism reinforces the importance of celebrating God’s mercy, stating, “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice” (CCC 2181).

A Cultural Hub

Beyond being a spiritual center, the Shrine also serves as a cultural hub that keeps the Lithuanian Catholic heritage alive.

Cultural Significance

Lithuania was one of the last European countries to adopt Christianity, but since then, it has been a stronghold of the Catholic faith. The Divine Mercy Shrine not only serves as a religious center but also as a reflection of the Lithuanian spirit. The devotion to Divine Mercy has been embraced by the Lithuanian people as a representation of their struggles, hopes, and resilience.

The Pilgrimage to Vilnius

The Shrine is also a part of several pilgrimage routes, both at the national and international levels.

Theological and Cultural Significance

The act of pilgrimage is deeply embedded in Catholic theology, symbolizing the Christian’s journey towards God. The Church teaches, “We are pilgrims, but we are also wayfarers; that is, travelers with a destination” (CCC 309). The pilgrimage to the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius thus serves as a powerful reminder of this ongoing journey towards divine mercy and salvation.


The Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius, Lithuania, is a significant landmark in both religious and cultural spheres. It is a living embodiment of the Catholic Church’s teachings on God’s boundless mercy. From the original image of Divine Mercy to the celebrations and prayers that occur within its precincts, each aspect of the Shrine is steeped in rich theological and cultural significance.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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