Gate of Dawn
Gate of Dawn (lithuanian: Aušros Vartai, polish: Ostra Brama) 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. The name-sake for the gate was the borough of Ostry Koniec (Sharp end) to which the gate initially led. It has also been known as the Medininkai Gate as it lead to the village Medininkai south of Vilnius. The Gate of Dawn is the only remaining out of nine city gates, while the others were destroyed by the order of the government at the end of the 18th century.
In the 16th century city gates often contained religious artefacts intended to guard the city from attacks and to bless travellers. The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains a renowned miraculous icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy. For centuries the picture has been one of the symbols of the city and an object of praise of both Roman Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants. Thousands of votive offerings adorn the walls and many pilgrims from neighbouring countries come to pray in front of the beloved painting. Mass is said in Lithuanian and Polish.
After the 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 biggest of the churches devoted to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn is St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk, Poland.
Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (lithuanian Aušros Vartų Dievo Motina) is the prominent painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy venerated by the faithful in the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The original painting is 163 x 200 cm and was painted by an unknown artist on 8 oak planks around 1630. The effigy was covered with silver and golden face around 1671 and on July 2, 1927 it was crowned with a double crown and entitled the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy.
Today this holy image is venerated by faithful of many countries, including Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and their diasporas worldwide. In Lithuania there are 15 churches devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn as well as Lithuanian parishes in New York, Montreal and Buenos Aires.
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.
Constantin Ostrozhskiy (1460-1530)
Supposedly the Gate of Dawn named in his honour (rus. Ostrožskije vorota, from here in pol. Ostra brama).