The Slovenia Times

Slovenian Catholics Celebrate Assumption Day

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Tens of thousands are expected to turn up for mass at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in the town of Brezje (NW), which has established itself as the country's main pilgrimage site.

The mass there is usually given by the archbishop of Ljubljana, but this year it will be given by Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop Anton Jamnik at 10 AM.

The brake from tradition comes after the archbishops of Ljubljana and Maribor were sacked last month in the wake of a 2011 financial scandal at the Maribor Archdiocese.

Assumption is one of the oldest holidays celebrating the Virgin Mary. Many Slovenian churches are dedicated to her and holidays celebrating her are popular among believers. As a result, Slovenian bishops entrusted the Slovenian nation into her hands in 1992.

Another popular pilgrimage site is the Basilica of the Virgin Protectress on Ptujska gora, sitting atop of a hill near the medieval town of Ptuj (NE). At the biggest pilgrimage site of the Maribor Archdiocese, the head of the Ptuj Minorite Order Milan Kos will step in for the sacked archbishop.

Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rode will celebrate mass at Fara pri Końćevju, a small parish celebrating its 650th anniversary this year.

Apart from Brezje and Ptujska gora, a less ordinary ceremony draws hundreds of people each year. On the eve of Assumption Day, a procession of boats carries a painting of the Virgin Mary from the medieval coastal town of Piran to the nearby village of Strunjan.

Legend has it that on the eve of Assumption Day, the Virgin Mary appeared to two men near the ruins of an old church on the hills overlooking Strunjan. A chapel was built there soon thereafter, followed by a new church, named Church of the Vision of St. Mary.

As part of the celebrations, a painting of the Virgin Mary is taken from Strunjan to neighbouring Piran a week beforehand. On the eve of the Assumption, it is taken back by boat.

Being a bank holiday in Slovenia, many will use the day to enjoy an extended weekend.

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