Religious tourism

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Throughout the history the religion was exactly the one that gave strength to the inhabitants of the Šibenik area in hard times. One of the proofs for this fact is exactly the number of churches in the Šibenik town core. There used to be 28 of them, and nowadays only 13 are left. Yet, the Šibenik's town core has the highest number of sacral objects among all the town cores of Dalmatian towns.

Today the religious tourism is one of the main motives of coming to the Šibenik-Knin region. Besides little churches located in the town cores and settlement centres, on neighbouring hills and in the fields, the following dates are especially important to pilgrims and believers:

Our Lady of Loreto – Primošten (May 10)

The painting featuring Our Lady of Loreto is connected to a story about a man, Marko Prgin, who saw a painting of Our Lady with little Jesus in his dream. In search of the painting he went to Loreto, where he found the painting of Our Lady and bought it. The box used for the transfer of the painting to Primošten is still preserved today. Numerous inhabitants gave their family gold in order to help make a gold picture frame. The inhabitants of Primošten still believe that Our Lady of Loreto saved them from the Italian attack in the Second World War, so the first Sunday after the 16th of November is dedicated to her, when the Holy Mass is held, and at the same time that day is the votive day of the inhabitants of Primošten. The holiday of Our Lady of Loreto is especially significant (May 10), when a big procession around the settlement and by boats on the sea is being held.

Our Lady of Karavaj – Tisno (May 26)

The worship of Our Lady of Karavaj started in Italy in 1432. Our Lady appeared to the pious woman Ivanica, on 26th of May in a little place called Caravaggio near Bergamo. During the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century many Italian families came from the surroundings of Bergamo to live in Tisno, and among them was also the Gelpi family that brought the painting featuring Our Lady since all its members were very religious, so around 1720 they built up also a little chapel on the hill Brošćica above Tisno. Almost three centuries long worship of Our Lady of Karavaj speaks a lot about the inhabitants of Tisno, their religion and their life in respect to the Church, so it is not surprising that on the day of their festivity, May 26, they cannot hide their joy and happiness. On that day all the houses are open to the guests and friends, no matter if the house belongs to the rich or to the poor ones.

Our Lady of Kapelica – Rogoznica (July 2)

According to the tradition, the fisherman Ivan M. Bogović Tumburko saw some unusual light in 1722, when he was fishing around the cape of the peninsula of Gradina. When he came a bit closer to the cliff, from where the light was coming from, he found the picture featuring the scene of Visitation (Our Lady visits her cousin Elisabeth). He took it home and stored it in a chest, but in some inexplicable way the picture was again found at the original finding place. And so it happened three times. Soon the inhabitants, together with the priest, decided to build up a chapel on that place, and the festivity was founded in 1776 in today's form.

The festivity is held on July 2 on Petrovčica. The picture of Our Lady is brought by boat to the waterfront of Caparin, escorted by priests and young girls dressed in white. There the bishop of Šibenik, together with about ten priests and couple of thousands of believers, waits for them and then they go altogether in the Parish church of the Assumption carrying the picture of Our Lady in the procession over the waterfront in Rogoznica.

The picture of Our Lady remains in the Parish church until the first Sunday after Our Lady of Mount Carmel festivity, when it returns to its sanctuary on the cape of the peninsula of Gradina in a ceremonial maritime procession. Hundreds of boats and thousands of believers participate in the procession; people walk for about 2,5 km along the votive path, many of them barefoot. In the past, young men followed the Boat of the Lady swimming and today they are accompanied by girls.

Our Lady of Tarac – Kornati (July 15)

This was a church of huge dimensions (about 20 x 13 m) and it is hard to believe that it served only to the local inhabitants because indications of a settlement nearby were never found. It is more possible that it gave shelter to seamen who were waiting in the protected bays of Šipnat, Levrnaka or Telašćica for more convenient winds to sail across the Adriatic. Today there are only parts of the foundation and an apse of the original church preserved. A small church dedicated to the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was constructed in the nave of the church in the Late Middle Ages. It is called Our Lady of Tarac among the inhabitants. On the first Sunday in July a Holy Mass is served in the church, along with the blessing of fields and sea. Hundreds of boats drive on that day towards Tarac. This votive procession by boats is one of the most beautiful and interesting religious events in Croatia.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel / Okit – Vodice (July 16)

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Observing from the sea, the hill of Okit with the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dominates over the panorama of Vodice. The first church on this hill was constructed already in the 17th century, probably on the foundations of a much older chapel. Later on, at the beginning of the 20th century the Way of the Cross with 14 little chapels was placed from the bottom to the top of the hill, where each and one chapel demonstrates one station of the Way of the Cross. Every year, on July 16, believers from all over the world walk along this Way of the Cross.

Our Lady of Visovac – Visovac (August 2)

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The Franciscan island "Visovac" is a unique and very beautiful place, abundant in natural and spiritual beauty. It symbolizes a detachment from daily routine. It is a place of novitiate – preparation of theologians for monastic service and ministry. The monastery, church and island of Visovac, as well as the lake of Visovac are a natural, cultural, historical and spiritual whole. The Franciscan monastery built on the island possesses a significant archaeological collection, a small ethnographic collection, a collection of liturgical clothes and vessels, as well as a rich library with dozens of valuable books and incunabulae. A special place belongs to the collection of the Turkish documents (Sultan's edicts), among which some are from the Sultan himself. In the Church of Our Lady of Visovac there are valuable organs. In hard and peaceful, joyful and painful moments the people turned to Our Lady of Mercy for incantation. A picture featuring Our Lady of Visovac, painted in 1576, is a symbol of the divine power. Thousands of people travel to this sanctuary every year from the 2nd of August (Our Lady of Visovac) until the 15th of August (Assumption). The monastery of Visovac became a spiritual centre of North and Middle Dalmatia, Herzegovina and Lika.

Our Lady of Vrpolje – Vrpolje near Šibenik (August 15)

The famous sanctuary of Our Lady of Vrpolje originates from the 14th century, and different gifts placed near a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary are proof of love for received benefactions. The festivity of Our Lady of Vrpolje is traditionally celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 15th of August, when thousands of people come to this little settlement near Šibenik.

Of special importance to the believers is also the ethno village "Jurlinovi dvori" with the sacral collection protected by the Ministry of the Culture of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the sacral collection of the Benedictine monastery of the St. Lucia in the centre of the historical medieval core of Šibenik.


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According to the account of Vodice older inhabitants, it is believed that the custom of watching over the Christ's tomb during the Holy Week came from Prvić Šepurine to Vodice at the beginning of the 20th century.
"Žudije" are young boys dressed in uniforms of Roman soldiers, representing their role in the torment of Christ. The custom of "žudije" has been preserved in Vodice for more than one hundred years and there are strict rules about who can be a "žudija" and how he needs to look like. "Žudije" participate in the Eastern religious service from Maundy Thursday until Holy Saturday in a special way.

On Good Friday, they participate in the procession through the settlement escorting Christ who carries a heavy cross. The end of their service is scheduled for the Holy Saturday, when they fall down during the Holy Mass and run, and two angels announce the Resurrection of Christ.