The Chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva in America’s National Shrine: The Spread of Lithuanian Marian Devotion and the Construction of the National Monument
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords:Apparition of Our Lady in Šiluva, sacred architecture, ecclesiastical art, Catholics, politics, United States of America
The Lithuanian Chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D. C. was consecrated in 1966. Thus far this object of sacred heritage has not been examined in Lithuanian historiography. The article reconstructs the history of installing the chapel, reveals the socio-cultural context that influenced it at that time, and discusses the religious, artistic, and political significance of the chapel. With the installation of the Lithuanian chapel in Washington’s Basilica, the devotion to Our Lady of Šiluva extended beyond the Lithuanian diaspora and became part of the devotional culture of all American Catholics. The Neo-Byzantine National Shrine, whose construction started in the early twentieth century, and the Chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva installed in the post-war years reveal the admiration of Americans and Lithuanian Americans for revival styles, as well as the sustainability of decorativeness, ornamentation, and other aesthetic qualities highly esteemed since the time of the Arts and Crafts Movement. During the Cold War years, the Chapel of Our Lady of Šiluva represented Lithuania in one of the most important centres of power of international politics. Along with other political and cultural campaigns, the existence of this place of prayer strengthened the Lithuanian presence in the political and public life of the United States of America.