The Slovenia Times

Slovenian Christians Celebrate Assumption Day


Assumption is one of the oldest holidays celebrating the Virgin Mary. It has been a bank holiday in Slovenia since 1992.

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.

Ahead of the holiday, the Slovenian Bishops' Conference issued a statement labelling the holiday a day of hope for all and a celebration of the "dignity and the calling of every woman".

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.

As has become tradition, mass there will be given by the archbishop of Ljubljana, Stanislav Zore.

Following Slovenia's independence in 1991 the basilica was declared the nation's main shrine to the Virgin Mary at the behest of the Franciscan monks who have run it for centuries.

The rector of the pilgrimage site Robert Bahčič says most countries in Europe have a special basilica or church that represents a shrine for the entire nation.

The basilica in Brezje is a holy site with special powers where many people have been miraculously healed, says Bahčič. "People feel God's presence here," he told the daily Večer ahead of the holiday.

Another popular pilgrimage site is the Basilica of the Virgin Protectress in the village of Ptujska Gora, perched atop a hill near the medieval town of Ptuj (NE).

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.


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