September 28, 2016

2781 LITHUANIA (Šiauliai) - Hill of Crosses

Located about 12km north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania, the Hill of Crosses is an historical and architectural monument, a unique composition of folk art. It attracts people with its peace, spirituality, and sacred nature. The oblong mound stands on a plain and is surrounded by the valleys of Kulpė Stream and its nameless tributaries. The hill itself is the Jurgaičiai-Domantai mound, which sits next to a former ancient village that was here in the 13th-14th centuries.

Over the generations, the place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it faced throughout history. After the 3rd partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire. Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russians in 1831 and 1863. These uprisings are connected with the beginnings of the hill: as families could not locate bodies of perished rebels, they started putting up crosses in place of a former hill fort.

In 1918 Lithuania declared its independence, and the Hill of Crosses was used as a place for Lithuanians to pray for their country, and for the loved ones they had lost during the Wars of Independence. The site took on a special significance betwen 1944 and 1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Continuing to travel to the hill, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their identity, religion and heritage. The Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses, and bulldozed the site at least three times.

In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage was opened nearby. In 1850, there were 17 crosses, from 1895 to 1898 the number increased to 180, and in 1938 there were over 400. Their number grew during the period of Soviet occupation; in 1960, there were 2,500. Now, there are about 100 000 crosses. The hill remains under nobody's jurisdiction; therefore people are free to build crosses.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Red Book of Lithuania - Mushrooms, issued on February 13, 2016. The series comprises two stamps with the same face value (0.84 EUR)
Boletus radicans - It's on the postcard 2781
Gomphus clavatus

Hill of Crosses - Official website
Hill of Crosses - Wikipedia
Hill of Crosses - Sacred Sites

Sender: Eric Clemente Figueira (direct swap)
Sent from Kaunas (Kaunas / Lithuania), on 22.09.2016

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