Facts About Vilnius Cathedral
The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off Cathedral Square.
The cathedral and the belfry were thoroughly renovated from 2006 to 2008.
During the Soviet regime initially, the cathedral was converted into a warehouse. Masses were celebrated again starting in 1988, although the cathedral was still officially called “The Gallery of Images” at that time. In 1989, its status as a cathedral was restored.
Vilnius Cathedral is Dedicated to Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, the church is the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania.
In 2002 work officially began to rebuild the Royal Palace of Lithuania behind the cathedral. The newly erected palace building will considerably alter the context of the cathedral.
In 1387, the year in which Lithuania was officially converted to Christianity, construction began on a second Gothic Cathedral with five chapels. It was however burnt down in 1419.
In 1769 the southern tower, built during the reconstruction of 1666 collapsed, destroying the vaults of the neighbouring chapel and killing 6 people.
Between 1786 and 1792 three sculptures by Kazimierz Jelski were placed on the roof of the Cathedral – Saint Casimir on the south side, Saint Stanislaus on the north, and Saint Helena in the centre. These sculptures were removed in 1950 and restored in 1997.
Inside crypts and catacombs of the Cathedral are buried many famous people from Lithuanian and Polish history.
The heart of the Polish-Lithuanian king Władysław IV Vasa was buried there upon his death, although the rest of his body is buried at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.