This photo is of the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai, Lithuania. The first time I saw footage of this place, I knew I had to visit. From that moment on, I longed to make a pilgrimage to the site where more than 100,000 crosses have been placed on the hill.
Over the past couple centuries, the practice of leaving crosses has been a sign of resistance to tyranny. For example, when Soviets would remove the crosses, the faithful would become all the more resolute to leave their crosses there.
Taking buses and trains (which often did not show up on time) for more than 12 hours to travel there from Lublin was quite a journey. Thanks be to God I was able to make it to the Hill of Crosses with a dear friend as the sun was setting on a Friday night. We were the only ones there and had the opportunity to walk among the crosses in silent contemplation on a cool night.
One thing that struck me is that every single cross had been placed by someone in particular on that hill. Each cross was different and even personal. I thought about how each person who had left a cross on the hill had/has his or her own story. Each one carried or is carrying his or her own cross through life in the struggle to unite their own suffering to that of Christ. The suffering has meaning because of the sign of the cross which bears witness to the transformation of suffering by the love that conquers death.
I thought to myself: I may never again see a scene quite like that which is before me now – 100,000 crosses on a hill. But I will see in years to come thousands of persons walking around with their own invisible crosses. And I hope that when I do I will marvel just as much as I did at the hill, and that I will pray for them just as fervently as I prayed at what became one of my favourite pilgrimage sites I have ever visited.