Virgin Mary appeared in Šiluva in 1608. It is one of the first apparitions of Mary in Europe and probably the only one where Mary spoke to a man of another denomination.

The oldest written history of Šiluva

The oldest and most reliable document, probably written by the rector of Šiluva. M. Sviekauskas shortly after 1651, preserved in the Šiluva church archive, describes Mary’s apparition as follows:

“Shepherds from a nearby village, grazing a herd in church lands, saw a girl with combed hair on one big stone holding a baby in her arms and crying bitterly. When they saw this image, one of them ran to a catechist of Šiluva Calvinists and reported what they had seen. The catechist then called for a bachelor named Solomon and approached the stone and also saw the crying Virgin as the shepherds had seen. When he gathered his strength, he asked her, “Girl, what are you crying about?” She answered “I am crying because my Son was worshiped in this place before and now it is plowed and sown here”. Having said that she was gone. The catechist and the bachelor, as false believers, despised that vision denouncing it as a creature of the evil spirit.

Having returned with the herd to their home, the shepherds began to spread the story among themselves. One old farmer, over a hundred years old, almost blind from old age, said to his neighbors: “Dear neighbors, say whatever you want, but I assure you that there was no temptation on that stone, but Virgin with her son appeared in whose honour the ancient Catholic church used to stand in that place. Eighty years ago, as far as I remember, our gentlemen destroyed and abolished it”.

When the story began to spread among the peasants in the markets of various towns, it reached the official of the Samogitian Diocese. He was at that time His Excellency Father Kazakevičius Smolka, canon and later suffragan of the same diocese. Concerned with the spread of the glory of God, he went to Šiluva and carefully interrogated all who saw that scene. After that, he carefully reviewed the Land Register of Samogitia, looking for acts of that foundation. After searching for a long time and not finding, he accidentally noticed two slightly glued cards, which he could not read well, only these clearly surviving words: “And I, Morkienė Vnučkienė,… maršalkienė permanently connect these lands of  idolaters to my Šiluva zbor… ”  

He took the record from the register, went back to the Šiluva parish and urged the old farmer to show the place where the Catholic Church stood in his memory. The old man was persuaded and told to take him to the soil which had been sown with rye that year. He asserted that although blind, he would give tangible evidence of the location of the old church and the buried treasure. Having just been brought to that place, he suddenly could see again. After thanking the Lord for the miraculous return of vision, he pointed out the place where they had to dig. A coffer with the treasure of Šiluva church was discovered during excavation.

Prompted by such a happy course of things and such clear signs of God’s help, His Excellency Fr. Kazakevicius took the legal route to reclaim the land of the Šiluva church, which belonged to it by foundation. It took over fifteen years for the case to be over, cost him a lot of expenses, work, and was connected to his further health issues as the opposing party was very persistent. However, being a diligent admirer of God’s glory and the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he tirelesly continued the work he had begun, until he reached the desired solution.”

The story concludes with a testimony of God’s goodness and grace – in Šiluva, not only church lands but also human hearts have been regained to God. It is written that here “the goodness of God and the piety of men who are faithful to Him increases.” This is evidenced even today by the pilgrims gathering here to Šiluva, experiencing the Lord’s grace and regaining the health of body and spirit.

It has been determined that the apparition of Mary was witnessed by true historical figures – the Rector of the Calvinist Seminary – bachelor Solomonas Grocijus and the Calvinist Catechist of Šiluva Mikalojus Fiera. After researching the Calvinist archives it was revealed that the latter left Šiluva relatively quickly for unknown reasons (1609) after the apparition of Mary. In 1614 Vilnius Synod of the Calvinists returned him to Šiluva. Usually, the Synod investigated the reasons for preachers’ withdrawal, even reproached them for that, but this time it did not happen and, a year later, M. Fiera was allowed to leave Šiluva. The escape of M. Fiera, the Calvinist seminary beginning to fall from 1609, suggest that the Calvinists were probably affected by some unusual event.

The certainty of Mary’s apparition in Šiluva is also confirmed by the continuous cult tradition, and the special attention given by Samogitian bishops to the apparition of Mary in Šiluva. The stone chapel built at the site of the apparition of Mary by Bishop Aleksandras Sapiega in 1643 seems not to have been the first. In the appeal to the Holy See by Bishop Jonas Lopacinskis on October 31 1774 to grant the infatuation rights to the priest of Šiluva, it was stated that the church of Šiluva was regained by “the special grace of God and the wonderful help of the Mother of God … mediated by a clear miracle (mediante evidenti miraculo)”.

In Šiluva, Mary expressed her greatest desire, that her Son would be worshipped. Mary’s desire should also become our desire as Christians, to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. In Šiluva, Mary pointed not to herself but to her Son Jesus, the True Way, the Truth, and the Life. In the fields where it was plowed and sown, Mary called to remember the word of God, the word of life, sown there centuries ago.

In Šiluva who survived numerous religious disputes, Mary spoke to a man of another denomination, a Calvinist. Maybe this unique fact is the Lord’s call through His Mother for Christians to reconcile? For only through reconciliation can peace and tranquility be attained, and the health of body and spirit restored.