Good Friday: Hill of Crosses

The of Hill of Crosses is in a small industrial city in Lithuania. For many years people have traveled to the hill and placed hundreds of thousands of crosses upon it in acts of Christian devotion.

After a fierce struggle, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire by force in 1795.  Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. These two uprisings relate to the beginnings of the hill.  As families could not locate bodies of perished loved ones, they put up crosses in remembrance.

From 1944 to 1990 Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. While people still traveled to the Hill of Crosses, they faced great resistance. Three times, during 1961, 1973 and 1975, the hill was leveled, the crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal. Following each of these desecrations, pilgrims from all over Lithuania rapidly replaced the crosses.

In 1990 when Lithuania once again declared its independence, there was an estimated 55,000 crosses on the hill. Today the crosses number in the hundreds of thousands.

How can a cross provide hope?  Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday but he rose from the dead on Easter.  Hope seemed distant on Friday, but lasting hope was revealed on Sunday morning.  

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