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It’s time to experience the joy of discovery!

Let’s go on an extraordinary journey on the “Bernardine Paths”, marked by centuries of history.
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Kaunas Bernardine Friary
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Kaunas St. George the Martyr Church
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Kretinga Church of the Lord’s Revelation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Grave and Chapel of Jurgis Ambrose Pabrėža
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Vilnius Bernardine Friary
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The Church of St. Francis of Assisi
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Kretinga Bernardine Friary
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Lourdes of Kretinga
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About Bernardines

The Order of Friars Minor, which has been active in Lithuania for already 550 years, has been given different names over the centuries. The Order was started by Franciscan “Observants”, i.e. friars, who aspired to return to the principles and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and follow his rule letter for letter. Interestingly, in Lithuania and its neighbouring countries, the Franciscan “Observants” were named the Bernardines after St. Bernardine of Siena, and this name caught on with the common folk.
St. Bernardine of Siena (1380 – 1444) was an extraordinary person. He was gifted with spectacular eloquence and thus was a remarkable orator. The story goes that crowds of worshippers, which gathered wishing to listen to the brother’s unique sermons, were too big for churches, so St. Bernardine delivered many homilies in city squares. This friar minor is also known as the Apostle of Italy, because of his extensive travels through the warring lands of Italy while spreading peace and tranquillity. During his sermons, St. Bernardine used to keep a plate with a Christogram in front of him. After the end of the sermon, the plate was displayed for adoration. The adoration of the Christ’s name was one of his favourite subjects, and his love for the deprived was legendary.

St. Bernardine of Siena belonged to the strictest branch of the Franciscan Order, which believed that the rule dictated by St. Francis had to be followed in a dogmatic manner, rejecting all convenient interpretations that were introduced later on. Due to his charismatic personality, he became the leader of this newly established movement.
St. John of Capestrano, who had been a student of St. Bernardine of Sienna, founded the the “Observant” branch of the Franciscan Order in Poland in 1453. He named the first friary in Cracow on behalf of his recently canonised teacher St. Bernardine. Due to this, people started calling the brothers living in the friary the Bernardines. John of Capestrano and other brothers were fond of this name and used it later on while establishing other friaries in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, even though their official name was Friars Minor or the “Observants”.

#bernardinutakais

Objects

Lourdes of Kretinga Lourdes is a small town in France. It is an extraordinary place. For more than one hundred years, the most prominent object in the town has been a grotto on a slope near a stream. In the grotto (i.e. a wide and shallow horizontal cave with vaulted ceiling), a fourteen-year-old shepherdess named Bernadette Soubirous saw a revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the period from February to June of 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the girl in the said grotto as many as 18 times. At first, the apparitions were received critically by the representatives of the Catholic Church. More GO TO MAP
Kretinga Bernardine Friary The ensemble of Kretinga Bernardine Friary and the Church of the Lord’s Revelation to the Blessed Virgin Mary is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent friary complexes in Lithuania. Its subtle and elegant architecture, the beauty of the nearby Akmena River valley and the atmosphere full of serenity surrounding the complex are not the only points of attraction. Another extraordinary characteristic is the history of the Friary, the origins of which are related to influential noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the unrests of the Reformation and the most painful episodes of our country. More GO TO MAP
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is commonly called the Bernardine Church by local people living in Vilnius city. It holds a special place in the hearts of residents and guests of the capital. Traces of Lithuania’s past, triumphs and downfalls, historical events and personas, the heroism and fortitude of the nation all intertwine in its history. This majestic Gothic building, which at first glance seems hiding shyly behind the gracious St. Anne’s Church, is the living testimony of the centuries-old Bernardine history. More GO TO MAP
Vilnius Bernardine Friary The historic – architectural Bernardine ensemble is a unique urbanistic complex situated in Vilnius Old Town. It is comprised of three integral parts: the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (the Bernardine Church), the Church of St. Anne and the Bernardine Friary. Together with the Bernardine Church, the Friary was built in the 15th c. and reconstructed a multitude of times after that. Its Gothic design and many of its authentic façades, interior elements and forms have survived up to this day. In the 16th c., three two-storey pavilions were built. Together with the Church, the pavilions surrounded a closed rectangular courtyard. Furthermore, the interior of the Friary also has valuable authentic architectural and artistic elements. The ceiling of the corridors is embellished by stellar (lierne) and groin vaults and an abundance of remaining Gothic and Renaissance style painting, and the sacristy still has an authentic 16th c. portal, created during the Renaissance period, and an ornate 15th c. door made of forged metal. More GO TO MAP
Grave and Chapel of Jurgis Ambrose Pabrėža In the old cemetery of Kretinga, close to the central pathway, one can see a curious chapel, decorated with turrets and subtle sculptures of angels. It was built on the grave of a famous preacher, botanist and priest Jurgis Pabrėža, Father Ambrose OFS of the Third Order of Saint Francis. At the end of the 19th c., J. A. Pabrėža’s resting place was marked by erecting a granitic cross. Several decades passed, and, by following the orders of the then guardian (superior) of the Friary Father Augustine Dirvelė OFM, the grave received further attention by building a brick neo-Gothic style chapel on it. The gravestone with the granitic cross was supplemented by a concrete base with metal candlesticks and a fence. More GO TO MAP
Kretinga Church of the Lord’s Revelation to the Blessed Virgin Mary Kretinga Church of the Lord’s Revelation to the Blessed Virgin Mary was built to satisfy the needs of the Bernardine Friary. The foundation of the Church and the Friary was heartily looked after by the most prominent nobleman of the country Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and his wife Sofia. The first Holy Mass in Kretinga’s Church was offered in 1617. You can safely say that it is one of the oldest sanctuaries in Samogitia. However, the first church looked a lot different from the one standing today. It was a Gothic, towerless building with one nave. The upper part of its façade was decorated by a tall, narrow arch, which accentuated Gothic stylistics. More GO TO MAP
Kaunas St. George the Martyr Church A little more than 550 years ago, Franciscan Friars the “Observants” (popularly called the Bernardines) arrived in Lithuania. During that time, on the initiative of Stanislaw Sudiwoj (a nobleman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania), one of the places this Franciscan fraternity settled was Kaunas city. The friars were given a land plot in a picturesque and strategically convenient place near the confluence of Neman and Neris rivers and Kaunas Castle and received funds necessary for the construction of a friary and a church. More GO TO MAP
Kaunas Bernardine Friary The first wooden Church of St. George the Martyr and the Friary were built in an exceptional place in Kaunas - near Kaunas Castle, on the banks of Neman River. At first these were wooden constructions, but, somewhere around 1504, they were replaced by Gothic burgundy brick buildings. The two-storey Friary building and the Church were connected by creating a closed rectangular courtyard. The City was full of low wooden buildings, so the volume and masonry of the complex comprised of the Bernardine Church and the Friary were objects of admiration for the townsfolk. More GO TO MAP