THE ICON OF OUR LADY OF OSTRABRAMA
Our Lady of Ostrabrama is the prominent painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy venerated by the faithful in the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania. [Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn or Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, according to a legend it is an effigy of Queen Barbara Radziwil.] The original painting is 163 x 200 cm and was painted by an unknown artist on 8 oak planks around 1630 in Vilnius. The effigy was covered with silver and golden face around 1671 and on July 2, 1927 it was crowned with a double crown and entitled the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy. The painting is a visual copy of the similar painting by contemporary Flemish mannerist painter Marten de Vos. Today this holy image is venerated by Roman Catholic and Orthodox faithful of many countries whose origins lie in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and their diasporas worldwide. In Lithuania itself there are 15 churches devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn as well as Lithuanian parishes in Montreal and Buenos Aires.
On February 26, 2007 Our Lady of Vilnius parish (Aušros Vart? Parapija) was closed by the Archdiocese of New York. The sanctuary had featured an icon of Our Lady painted by the artist Tadas Sviderskis, [The Chapel of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius] which was commissioned in the 1980s. There is no longer a church devoted to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in the New York metropolitan area. In Poland the biggest of the churches devoted to Our Lady of Ostra Brama is the Marian Basilica in Gdansk. Other shrines of the holy icon are found in Bialystok, Drogosze, Ketrzyn, Olsztyn, Skarzysko-Kamienna and Wroclaw. There are also several Polish churches devoted to Our Lady of Ostra Brama in the United Kingdom (Kidderminster), USA (South River, NJ), Australia.