Aušros Vartai | Description of miracles

Description of miracles

In his book ‘An account of the wonderful image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Discalced Carmelite Church of St Theresa in Vilnius at the Gates of Dawn, famed for various graces’, the Carmelite Fr Hillarie of St Gregory (1761) gives several other miracle stories, confirmed by eye witnesses and, of course, those who received the favours would give an ex voto as a sign of gratitude at the icon. Other types of wondrous occurrences are also described, such as the punishments imposed by Our Lady on malefactors attacking the picture or the honour of the shrine. The malefactors are usually foreign soldiers, Swedes, or Russians.

Here are a few accounts of the miracles:

‘In 1671, when the image was brought into the first chapel, a small two-year old child fell sharply from the top floor on to the stone ground below by some accident, and so he was lifted from the ground dead. The mourning parents took their child to the picture of Our Lady at Aušros Vartai in strong belief that their prayers would indeed be answered. The next day they found their child full of health without the slightest injury to his body or the least bruise.’ In gratitude to the Holy Mother of God for this favour and in eternal remembrance of the miracle, a plaque showing the incident was hung in the chapel on May of the same year. Later, it was destroyed along with the fire in the chapel on May 27, 1715.

‘Anyone would have a right to call May 18, 1706, a day of ashes if he had been in Vilnius, when almost the entire city was turned into ashes on the Pentecost day – the day when the Apostles got the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire in early Christian times. The fire broke out at sharp midday in a miserable hovel not far from St Nicholas’s church and it consequently destroyed many nice homes, monasteries, and sanctuaries. The fire raved to such an extent, embracing the monastery and the church of St Theresa, that some wooden buildings in the yard which was as narrow as it is today, burnt down. However, as soon as two monks – Father Zachariah of St Louis and Brother Urban of St Theresa, surprised that it was suddenly no burden for them to carry the icon out of the chapel, carried it out and placed in the church, which resulted at once in the subsided fire from the monastery and the church. At that moment, some pious people saw our Lady in splendid radiance standing on the Carmelite Church’.

‘In 1708, the tsar of Moscow, Peter Alekseyevich bored down on the city through the whole winter with considerable force and settled in Vilnius with the whole army. One godless soldier from that army, suddenly captured by godless greed, somehow managed to get into the Aušros Vartai chapel and decided to steal silver vestment from Our Lady’s icon. At the moment the soldier touched the picture with his sacrilegious hand, the soldier was immediately thrown back against the wall by the Blessed Virgin and crushed. This incredulous miracle frightened the Moscow army so much and inspired such respect and awe for the Holy Image that many of the soldiers started donating to the poor and bowing low before the image as was their custom… and they zealously started seeking out pictures of the most holy image, and, what is more, to pay honour to the holy image, guards at the gate were forbidden to smoke in this place.’

There is a story about the Swedish army which in 1702 occupied Vilnius and put its military guard at each gate of the city. The invaders did not allow people to sing the songs of glory at the icon of the Gates of Dawn, and they were mocking at the picture of Our Lady. Thus, on April 14, which was on Saturday morning before Easter, ‘gates that needed ten strong men to be moved, were suddenly by Our Lady’s miraculous power torn off from its pivot and fell down with great noise on the blasphemous soldiers who were warming up by the fire near the gates.’

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