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Three Crosses, Vilnius, Lithuania

Author: Wojsyl

Three Crosses (Lithuanian: Trys kryžiai) is a prominent monolith in Vilnius, Lithuania, on the Hill of 3 Crosses, originally called the Bald Hill (Lithuanian: Plikasis kalnas), in Kalnai Park. According to a tale, seven Franciscan friars were beheaded in addition to this hill. Wooden crosses have actually been sited in the area given that the early 17th century, and also they came to be a symbol of the city as well as an important part of the city’s skyline.

As the timber deteriorated, the crosses needed to be occasionally replaced. In 1916, a concrete monolith was made by Polish– Lithuanian engineer and also sculptor Antoni Wiwulski or Antanas Vivulskis in Lithuanian. It was taken apart in 1950 by order of the Soviet authorities. A new monument created by Henrikas Šilgalis was erected in its location in 1989. The monument was portrayed on 50 litas banknotes. A scenic view of the Vilnius Old Town can be observed from a little observation deck at the base of the crosses.

Tale

Lithuanian Guard of Honor near the Three Crosses in 1939

According to the Bychowiec Chronicle, fourteen Franciscan friars were invited to Vilnius from Podolia by Petras Goštautas.  The friars publicly taught the scripture and badmouthed Lithuanian gods. Agitated city locals melted the abbey and eliminated all fourteen friars. Seven of them were beheaded on the Bleak Hill; the other 7 were tortured and thrown right into the Neris or Vilnia River.  Chroniclers debate the valid precision of the tale. Maybe an embellishment of a tale from Chronica XXIV Generalium regarding two Franciscans murdered around 1340.  It might also be an embellishment of a tale from De Conformitate Vitae B. P. Francisco by Bartholomew Rinonico regarding 5 Franciscans martyrs. If the last is the case, the event most likely happened in 1369.

Despite whether the legend regarding the Franciscan martyrs is true or not, their story spread from the early 16th century.  The initial wood 3 Crosses were built on the Bleak Hillside, the area where seven friars were beheaded, at some point prior to 1649. That is the year when the crosses were depicted in a panegyric to Bishop Jerzy Tyszkiewicz. Around the exact same time, Tyszkiewicz began a case to canonize the fourteen friars.  There is some proof that the crosses were built prior to 1636 as, according to Jan Nepomucen Fijałek, the crosses were also shown on 2 silver pictures of St. Casimir that were made in 1636 and hung in Vilnius Sanctuary.  Nonetheless, the pictures did not make it through as well as Fijałek’s claim can not be verified.

Background
The wooden crosses collapsed in 1869 as well as Tsarist authorities did not permit to rebuild them. The brand-new monument from reinforced concrete designed by Antoni Wiwulski was erected in August 1916, while Vilnius was inhabited by the Germans throughout World War I.  The monument was destroyed by Soviet authorities on May 30, 1950. Residents of Vilnius desired them recovered. During the Lithuanian self-reliance motion, the monolith was rebuilt on the old structures according to the job of sculptor Henrikas Šilgalis. The monument was introduced on 14 June 1989.  The rebuilt goes across currently are 1.8 metres (5 feet 11 in) greater than those of 1916. Busted items of the old monument can be seen numerous meters below the rebuilt monument.

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