Sculpture of John Paul II
An impressive 3.5 meter high bronze sculpture of Pope John Paul II passing through the huge square of Šiluva from the Chapel towards the Basilica, was created in 2008 commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of Pope John Paul’s visit to Lithuania.
It was created by Czesław Dźwigaj, a professor of sculpture at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, who had known the Pope very well personally.
The sculpture was unveiled on September 7th, 2008. This monument depicting the Holy Father, who is depicted holding the painting of Our Lady of Šiluva close to his chest, testifies that one who trusts Virgin Mary will never be disappointed.
Statue of Virgin Mary
It depicts Mary with her hands down and a globe with snake a under her feet. These elements in iconography indicate that it is relatable to the type of Our Lady of Mercy. The rays of grace emanating from Mary’s hands are perceived as a symbol of the grace of Mary, the fulfilment of requests addressed towards her.
This sculpture dates back to the times when the Tsarist authorities had begun to erect an Orthodox church in the square opposite the parish church. After hearing this in 1908, rector Marcijonas Jurgaitis hastily bought the square, planted it with trees, brought a white-plastered statue of Our Lady from the Petrapil and put it in the same place it stands to this day. This cultural feat done by Fr. Jurgaitis for Šiluva displeased the Tsarist Russia, and yet the Orthodox Church did not emerge, and the sculpture was frequented visited by pilgrims for several decades.
It is known that Fr. M. Jurgaitis had previously thought of building a copy of the statue of Lourdes grotto Mary for the 50th anniversary of the Lourdes grotto, and in this way to link the stories of the apparitions of both shrines.
During the Soviet occupation it was decided to reduce the surge of the faithful to Šiluva, therefore the town was diminished every possible way and not taken care of. Around 1960 the Soviet authorities ordered the statue of the Virgin Mary to be removed, it was taken to the cemetery and in place of the statue a monument to the “Šiluva people who died for the Soviet government” was erected there.
After Lithuania regained its independence, in 1991 the monument was moved to the cemetery, and in 1992 the statue of the Virgin Mary was brought back to the square opposite the basilica. In 2008, not being able to restore the the old one, this statue was precisely copied and created in bronze and erected in the same place.