There is one place you will meet thousands of believers every year on 14th – 15th on August. It’s Catholic Celebration of Assumption Day, but in that one special place you will find not only Catholics, not only Christians, but a lot of different people who are coming from different places, a lot of piligrims who have came to this place on their feet hundreds (and more) of kilometres.
Welcome to Aglona! 221 km from Riga, southeastern part of Latvia. Aglona is a special place for it’s white baroque style Basilica – Aglona’s Basilica is the most important shrine in northeastern Europe. The church has a collection of different sacred art samples, crypt in the basement and next to it you will find a monastery. It’s located near the lake, it has spring with holy water – you will see a lot of people staying in a loooong line to get the water. Another long line will be at the famous icon “Our Miraculous Lady of Aglona” - the icon is considered to have healing powers and it’s the main reason why around 3 centuries back piligrims, believers and other people searching for holy support and help got to Aglona.
A little personal story from childhood: when I was 8 years old I broke my leg very badly (we had a competition, who will get the first one down the tree and I managed to be the first) and after a month in a hospital I had one more month at home with no walking, doctors were sure they will have to brake the bone once again because fractures like that never grow back togeather correctly. I wasn’t a child who was going to do what doctor says in the period of recovery and it was one more reason for everyone to think I’ll have to get back to hospital soon. My parents took me to Aglona Basilica. My bone was just perfect and haven’t had any problems with it ever after. If it would happen to me now – I would say that it’s the power of believing in something or coincidence, but I was a child who can not be stopped and who is not going to follow any instructions :)
You can visit this place when it’s not the big celebration and enjoy it in peace, but the main celebration is on 15th of August and there are thousands of people. Special events starts before the 15th: 11th is a day for ill people, 12th - for families, 14th is a special day with heart touching Cross’ Walk at night where thousands of people are moving into the darkness around all theritory of the Basilica, praying and singign with lighted candles in their hands. During these days there are also a lot of concerts of Christian bands, presentations of piligrims’ groups, watching movies and dancing, special youth activities etc.
Check these little videos to catch the impression of what kind of feeling you can get there: 1) The Theritory of Aglona Basilica 2) The Cross’ Walk, 14th of August
If you go to that part of Latvia, close to Aglona you can visit this nice town: Preiļi – Find Your Own Little Wonderland