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The Gate of Dawn (Ausros Vartai) in Vilnius, constructed at the beginning of the 16th century,
is one of nine gates that existed at that time in the city’s defensive walls. In medieval Vilnius there was a custom of placing holy pictures over the gate in tower recesses. The picture of the Madonna without the Infant Jesus, having a sad countenance, slightly bowed head, and crossed arms, was placed on the gate which was considered to be the most representative, because official visitors were welcome there. This picture did not attract much attention, as it was in the recess behind shutters, which protected it against the rain and snow.
The situation changed in 1626 when the Barefoot Carmelites order was established near
the Gate of Dawn. One of the monks in the Gate of Dawn constructed a wooden chapel with
stairs for the Madonna picture, where the inhabitants of Vilnius started gathering for prayers.
In that chapel, with the intercession of the Mother of God, the inhabitants of Vilnius for
generations have pleaded for special graces for themselves and their family and friends.