The main faith of Lithuania since 15th century Roman Catholicism withstood the Reformation (16th century) and the church closures under the Russian Empire (19th century). In 1940-1990 was among primary forces of defying Soviet occupation, publishing the anti-Soviet “Chronicles of the Catholic Church” that documented persecution of Lithuanians.
Many small towns or villages are adorned by tall elaborate churches, mostly dating to the early 20h century when the ban of new Catholic churches was lifted. In other places, older wooden churches (18th – 19th centuries) remain. They are great examples of traditional people’s architecture.
Next to the roads you may still see some large crosses and small chapels erected by the local people. Lithuanian cross-making is inscribed into UNESCO list of immaterial heritage and the best place to see it is the Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai.
But probably nowhere Roman Catholicism is felt as much as in Vilnius Old Town, where there are many church spires of different periods gone by, from 14th to the 18th century. There are also several miraculous paintings that are visited by pilgrims from far away in Vilnius: the Divine Mercy and the Mary of the Gates of Dawn are the prime examples.
Another famous miraculous painting exists in Šiluva. While the elaborate processions to the holy sites across Lithuanian countryside are less popular than they were 100 years ago the religious town holidays are still the main event of the year in many places.
As the Lithuania’s major religion (some 86% its followers) Roman Catholicism was the prime target of the Soviet anti-religious drive. The Soviets closed many churches and all the monasteries. After independence, most of these buildings have been reopened and repaired but a lack of money means that many others still stand derelict with their priceless artworks destroyed.