I am keen to visit Lithuania and visit some of the Catholic and Orthodox monasteries. Recently I had a note from a nun who lives at the Monastery of Monte Pacis (Mountain of Peace) near Kaunas, the second largest city in the country.

The monastery lies in a picture postcard location on the Pa┼żaislis Hill near the shores of the Kaunas Reservoir. In summer the reservior offers a vast array of water activities and the surrounding national park is laced with walking trails.

The monastery and the adjacent hexagonal church are over 300 years old and were founded by the chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th century for Camaldolese monks. Over the years the building suffered the indignities of war, fire and looting and the inhabitants were raided by Napoleon and then evicted by the Soviets in 1948. However, in 1992 the female religious order of the Sisters of St Casimir (originally from Chicago) gained control and embarked on a successful program of restoration. The monastery is famous throughout Lithuania for its artistic heritage and the nuns enage with the local community in artistic, cultural as well as spiritual pursuits. An international music festival is held at the monastery each summer and the showpiece hexagonal Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary attracts numerous visitors for its classic Baroque style. Pope John Paul II visited the church in 2007.

In the tradition of hospitality the nuns have restored the original monastery guesthouse and now invite visitors to stay overnight. Two spacious apartments have been udated in period style and along with the standard guestrooms are ensuite with toilet and shower. The rooms are modern, air-conditioned and are connected to Wi-Fi (free). A large dining room caters for overnight guests and day visitors and all meals are available. Monastery wine is served and much of the produce used is grown on the property. A large conference room is available for meetings and seminars. Have a look at:

Monastery accommodation for pilgrims and tourists. An invaluable online guide for travelers who want to stray off the well-trodden tourist path.
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