Catholics Celebrate the Assumption of Mary


The Assumption is one of the oldest holidays celebrating the Virgin Mary. There are several hundred churches in Slovenia devoted to her and several of them, mostly older ones, especially to Mary's "assumption of body and soul into heavenly glory", taught as dogma by the Roman Catholic Church since 1950.

Slovenian bishops symbolically entrusted the Slovenian nation into Mary's hands in 1992 and that year 15 August also became a bank holiday, marked by pilgrimages.

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

Novo Mesto Bishop Andrej Glavan, who serves as the apostolic administrator of the Ljubljana Archdiocese and the head of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference, will say mass in Brezje this year.

The Slovenian Bishops' Conference has described the Assumption as a holiday of hope and also as an homage to the dignity and vocation of every wife.

Every Slovenian diocese has a central shrine to the Virgin Mary and the locations, traditionally the destination of pilgrimages, are often connected to vows or folk tradition.

The Brezje Basilica is known for two stories, one related to its famous 1814 Mary Help of Christians painting by Leopold Layer. The Kranj painter made it to express his gratitude for the merciful rescue from prison, where he was incarcerated by the French because of money forgery.

Brezje however became the Slovenian Lourdes after 1863 after reports of a miraculous healing of one Marija Tavčar, an 18-year-old from nearby Begunje na Gorenjskem, significantly boosted the numbers of pilgrims. The basilica was officially declared the Slovenian National Marian Shrine in 2000.