The first special celebrations in honour of Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn were held on May 18, 1706 after the Great Fire of Vilnius. Many residents of Vilnius claimed to have experienced Our Lady’s help at that time and some of them even claimed to have seen how the Blessed Virgin rose above the church of St Theresa and the chapel to extinguish the flames. From that day on May 18, orchestras from all over the city used to gather on their own will at Aušros Vartai, and used to play beautiful music pieces to the Blessed Virgin Mary each year. This tradition faded in 1715 when the wooden chapel burnt down.
Since 1735, the feast of Our Lady of Heavenly Protection began to be celebrated in the second week of November. In 1761, the Fraternity of Our Lady of Heavenly Protection was established and in 1773, the Fraternity received two charters from Pope Clement XIV. The first of these charters granted indulgences to Fraternity members on the day they entered the Fraternity and on the feast day of Our Lady of Heavenly Protection. The second privilege was given for celebrating the Mass for the deceased Fraternity members. Since then, the feast of Our Lady of Heavenly Protection developed into the grand feast of Our Lady of Mercy of the Gates of Dawn, which lastd for entire eight days. The feast used to end with a solemn performance of the litany by the best city’s soloists and orchestras. The great indulgence feast is still celebrated for eight days, starting from the week on which falls the day November 16.
As Palm Sunday approaches, traditionally traders gather here to sell Palm Sunday wands or verbos, thus, creating a unique and colourful picture of the street. The palms are thus, blessed and carried in a solemn procession on the same Sunday.
According to Vilnius tradition, the Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) procession ends at the Gates of Dawn. The procession was forbidden during the soviet occupation in Lithuania, but it was again revived after Lithuania’s independence was regained.
Over the entire second half of 20th c., the Mass is celebrated and the Litany of Loreto to the Blessed Virgin Mary is sung both, in the Lithuanian and Polish languages up to these days. The parish is also being taken care of by both communities in agreement.